ACT News

Tricky issues remain in Labor-Greens agreement to govern

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Almost halfway into the parliamentary term, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says most of the post-election deal with the Greens Shane Rattenbury has been delivered, but some tricky issues remain.

The tram line from Gungahlin is on track, with construction set to begin before the next election in 2016, as agreed. The other big-ticket item is ensuring 90 per cent of the city's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020, with the government embarked on an ambitious project to establish wind and solar farms.

But still to come is a needle exchange program at the prison, bogged down in disagreement from prison guards.

The government has yet to ban coal seam gas from its energy contracts, as agreed.

It is also still working to introduce a shared-car program such as the one run by,where people can pick up a car from central areas and use it for a short time - similar to the city bikes system in Melbourne.

And it is still working on a new solar scheme to give homeowners 20-year guaranteed payments for rooftop solar power fed into the grid. At issue is a Council of Australian Governments agreement that bans premium prices for householders, saying any premium pricing should be only transitional, closed to new participants by 2014, and would not impose a disproportionate burden on people without solar panels.


Ms Gallagher said new freedom of information laws were being drafted. Under the agreement, they are to be based on Queensland laws and include a "signficantly reduced schedule of information deemed not to be in the public interest to release".

But at the six-monthly review of the agreement between the parties, Ms Gallagher said 85 per cent of the almost 100 commitments were in place or well underway, and none had been abandoned.

"We've got a good working relationship, we trust each other," she said. "We have made agreements with each other and we've delivered upon them, even if at times it may have been difficult either within my organisation or with his."

Mr Rattenbury said he was especially pleased with progress on light rail, and laws banning cage eggs and sow stalls.

Asked whether he was prepared for the light rail project being scrapped as too expensive, Mr Rattenbury confirmed the government had seen the draft business case and the costs stacked up.

"There's no reason to believe we're going to come to a point where it's going to fall over," he said. "... Katy has given some very clear commentary around expectations of price, that it should reflect those 2011 prices [$614 million] with escalation and inflation built in. All the research indicates that we're on track for that."

Mr Rattenbury said the most challenging part of his agreement with Labor was the way it limited his ability to consult with his own party.

"The challenging part is being able to talk to my own party when there are matters that are [in] Cabinet in confidence and get clear guidance from my party, particularly as the only member," he said.

But there were "a lot of good progressive things going on", made easier by the "areas of commonality" between Labor and the Greens, he said, pointing to the work on renewable energy.

Under the deal, Mr Rattenbury agrees to maintain confidence in the government and not to support Liberal no-confidence motions.