ACT News


Labor and Greens hammer out deal to see Shane Rattenbury in Cabinet, Joy Burch as Speaker

The Greens' Shane Rattenbury will become a minister and Labor's Joy Burch the parliamentary speaker in a power-sharing deal finally signed by the two parties on Sunday.

The deal has failed to deliver major poker machine reform although it promises a 20 per cent reduction in poker machine numbers within four years, from about 5000 now to 4000 by July 1, 2020. That will be fewer than 13 machines for every 1000 adults, which falls somewhere between the Greens' push for a ratio of 10 machines per 1000 adults, in line with the national average, and Labor's plan for 15 machines for every 1000 adults. At the moment there are 16.5 per 1000.

Mr Rattenbury said last week it was time to get serious on pokies reform, but on Sunday he said the Labor Party simply was "not ready" for mandatory precommitment and $1 maximum spins for poker machines. The parties agreed to "explore" more harm minimisation measures and will increase the problem gambling levy from 0.6 per cent of pokie profits to 0.75 per cent, seeing an extra $250,000 a year for problem gambling.

The Greens have agreed not to support no-confidence motions in the government other than for "proven corruption, gross negligence, or significant non-adherence to this agreement or the ministerial code of conduct". Mr Rattenbury will vote for everything with which he has agreed in Cabinet, but reserves the right to amend or disagree with Cabinet decisions, in which case he takes no further part in them - similar to the 2012 agreement.

The agreement doesn't spell out how much information he can share with his Green colleague Caroline Le Couteur, who will sit on the crossbench, but says the Cabinet handbook will be reviewed to allow "appropriate information sharing".

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he had spoken with Mr Rattenbury about lessons learned from the Labor-Green arrangement in Tasmania, and "it is something that we are all conscious of".


The agreement ensures the Greens will have extra control over planning, with Ms Le Couteur to chair the planning committee. An inquiry will be held into ways to improve planning, consultation, building design, energy performance and "range of housing options". Building certifiers will be subject to annual audits.

The parties have agreed to set up "deliberative democracy strategies", "so that diverse views are taken into account in major project proposals". This is presumably a reference to Mr Barr's belief that some sectors exert too much influence compared with the views of people who don't speak out.

The Greens will also chair an inquiry into the promised "integrity commission". The agreement doesn't describe this as a corruption commission, but the Greens and Labor have already indicated they will look to the Tasmanian commission as their model. Mr Barr said did not give a timeframe, beyond saying he expected the inquiry to take up to a year, then more time on the fine detail of the legislation.

A critical issue was oversight of the commission, he said.

"It can't be god," he said. " ... It can't be a power unto itself. Who watches the watcher is very important to us."

Donations from property developers will be banned. The lobbyist register will be expanded to capture in-house government relations staff, industry associations, and project management liaison officers and companies.

Labor will chair an inquiry into changes to electoral law after the election, including lowering the voting age, which the Greens favour. But Mr Barr said a lower voting age would need to be considered in light of voting being compulsory.

Mr Barr has already announced plans to strip the Land Development Agency of responsibility for the Northbourne corridor, the City to the Lake project and other urban renewal land development after a damning audit report in September, with a separate authority to be set up with that responsibility with its own board. The land agency will concentrate of new suburbs.

The parliamentary agreement says the government will maintain a role for the public sector in land development. Affordable housing targets will be set for greenfield and urban renewal projects, with safeguards to prevent resale windfall profits.

Mr Rattenbury said the agreement picked the eyes out of polices each party took to the election. "It certainly delivers for the many thousands of people who voted Greens. They can see the fingerprints of our key policy items," he said.

Mr Barr will announce ministerial portfolios on Monday.

  • The full Labor-Greens parliamentary agreement