Hung parliament brings flexibility

JULIA GILLARD could be Prime Minister Monday to Wednesday; Tony Abbott could lead thenation from Thursday to Saturday; and Bob Brown could have a turn on Sundays.

True, Richmond Independent Julie Boyd was being tongue-in-cheek when she made this suggestion yesterday, but it was an example of the flexibility in thinking the hung parliament had brought to the shape of the next Federal Government.

As the Labor and Liberal parties yesterday began negotiations with independents Rob Oak-eshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter, along with new Greens MP Adam Bandt, the men and women who stood as independents in Saturday’s poll were celebrating.

Independents Doug Behn and Merle Summerville (Page), and Julie Boyd and Stephen Hegedus (Richmond) were excited about the potential the hung parliament had for Australia’s political landscape.

“I’m stoked,” Mr Hegedus said. “It will mean that private member’s bills can be debated on the floor rather than just being canned by a majority.”

Mr Hegedus said there appeared to be a split view of the hung parliament – one that it was an opportunity to re-make Australian politics and another that the major parties got what they deserved ‘for taking the public for granted’.

Ms Boyd said she was excited by Mr Oake-shott’s vision of a parliament where MPs from ‘the red team and the blue team’ worked together.

“We can achieve far more through collaboration than through being antagonistic to each other,” she said.

While the Labor and Liberal parties might be unenthused at the thought of sitting at the Cabinet table together, it’s a technique that has been used successfully in Australia before.

In 2002, facing a hung parliament, South Australian Labor Premier Mike Rann brought a Nationals MP and an independent MP into his ministry.

The experiment went so well he reappointed them after the next election, which Labor won in its own right.

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