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Negotiate quickly to ward off instability, Lundy urges Greens

The ACT Greens: L-R Caroline LeCouteur, Meredith Hunter and Shane Rattenbury.

The ACT Greens: L-R Caroline LeCouteur, Meredith Hunter and Shane Rattenbury. Photo: Graham Tidy

The ACT Greens should fulfil their role as kingmakers as soon as possible, according to Labor senator Kate Lundy, who is concerned a political vacuum could damage business confidence in the territory.

While she refused to suggest the Greens back Labor, she was critical of the time taken over negotiations after the last federal election to form a minority government.

''I would encourage the Greens to negotiate with haste,'' she said yesterday. ''The lesson from the drawn-out process federally is it enabled the Liberals to mount a very destructive and negative campaign through that period, causing instability … That is not what the ACT economy needs.

''I think even the Liberal Party and its supporters would not want to see a period of political instability in the ACT.

''It's bad for business, it's bad for the ACT's general reputation.

''I'm not going to speculate about what the Greens will do but I would just encourage the conversations to happen sooner rather than later in the interests of the ACT.''

Senator Lundy rejected federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's view that ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja had the moral right to form government after Saturday's election.

''This assumed right was reminiscent of the tactic and attitudes Abbott took into the discussions with the crossbenchers when the Gillard Labor government was formed,'' she said.

''It characterised Abbott's approach all the way through - he was claiming some moral right to leadership and it's incorrect.

''I think the same of Zed Seselja in the way he spoke on Saturday night.

''The whole speech was very much a claim of victory speech.

''101 in politics is if you're in a minority, you need to negotiate.''

Senator Lundy said the swing to Labor was impressive, given the trend around the nation of swings against the ALP. ''The ACT has once again bucked the trend,'' she said. ''That is really positive for Labor federally, given the smashing that occurred in the most recent state election, in Queensland.''

Meanwhile, federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh says ACT Labor was ''pretty brave'' to push ahead with tax reform against a strong scare campaign.

He says he was not surprised at the high vote for Labor in Molonglo compared with Ginninderra.

''I don't think any of that is much of a mystery; the leaders have such a high profile in ACT elections,'' he said. ''The movement of Zed Seselja from Molonglo to Ginninderra and Katy Gallagher being Chief Minister now compared to deputy minister last time accounts for much of what you saw.

''Invariably, political campaigns have a big focus on the leader.

''The main lesson, I think, is that Labor ran a pretty brave campaign.

''Having been in office for 11 years, they knew the election would be a challenge - nonetheless, they pushed ahead with stamp duty reform.''

The Liberal opposition ran a strong campaign that rates would ''triple'' as stamp duty on houses was removed.

Dr Leigh, the member for Fraser, said his fellow economists were united in believing stamp duty was a bad tax.

''We pushed back hard but it's always easier to run a scare campaign than to counter one, especially on complex issues like tax reform where you need people to focus on the issue for more than 20 seconds,'' he said.

''I am really proud the Labor team didn't throw away the reform … It was a very brave campaign and as somebody who is going to the next election supporting tax reform, it gave me a good deal of optimism.

''When you look around Australia, there are chief ministers and premiers who know the problems with stamp duty but none is doing anything about it.''

Dr Leigh said the lower vote for the Greens in the ACT highlighted the difficulty of brand recognition when a minor party was working with a major party.

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