Independent trio reveals seven-point plan
The three independents in talks with Labor and the Coalition over the formation of a minority federal government have released a list of seven demands to secure their support.
The list, formulated by rural independent MPs Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter, included access to the latest Treasury advice on election promise costings and the economic outlook for Australia.
They also want briefings from key government departmental secretaries on a range of issues, from health to infrastructure, as well as talks with ministers and shadow ministers on their policy plans for the next three years.
Independent thinkers ... Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter. Photo: Andrew Meares
They are seeking a written commitment to serving out the full three-year term and detail as to ‘‘how this commitment to a full term will be fulfilled, either by enabling legislation or other means’’.
The independents also want changes to political donations, electoral funding, and truth in advertising reforms. 3.
The trio has also asked for advice on Labor and the Coalition’s plans for parliamentary reform, including expanding the committee system, increasing time to consider private members’ business and bills, and overhauling question time and the end-of-session adjournment debate.
The independents would like to begin talks by September 3.
Earlier, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she had responded ‘‘positively’’ to the seven-point plan, which forms the basis of initial talks with the independents on minority government.
Ms Gillard told reporters she had ‘‘a productive, constructive discussion’’ with the independents.
‘‘They presented me earlier today with a letter raising seven items,’’ she said.
‘‘I have responded to that letter in writing. I have responded positively to each of the seven items.’’
She said she was seeking advice on whether to allow the independents access to Treasury’s costings of Labor and Coalition promises during the election.
Ms Gillard said the new Nationals MP for the regional West Australian seat of O’Connor, Tony Crook, did not consider himself to be a member of the ‘‘Truss Nationals’’.
‘‘His terminology, not mine,’’ she said.
Mr Crook saw himself as a crossbencher, the prime minister said.
‘‘As is publicly known, Mr Crook and myself have a very different view about the minerals resource rent tax,’’ Ms Gillard said.
She said the government would give Mr Crook information in writing.
‘‘Mr Crook is focused on infrastructure for the constituency he represents, services for the constituency he represents and I have undertaken to him to provide him with information in writing about the government’s policies and plans.’’
Ms Gillard said she had made arrangements to meet Andrew Wilkie, the prospective independent MP for the formerly Labor held Tasmanian seat of Denison.
Ms Gillard said she could understand why the three independents had sought information in relation to election promise costings.
She said the public service, in accordance with normal practice, costed election promises with a view to presenting the incoming government with a comprehensive brief.
But such material would not normally be made available in the caretaker period and she was seeking advice on changing that, she said.
‘‘It’s not available to me, it’s not available to Mr Abbott, it’s not available to the independents without changes to the normal convention arrangements,’’ she said.
‘‘Consequently what is being sought is advice on precisely that.’’
Ms Gillard said the independents were also seeking some ‘‘wise elders’’ to provide advice to them and the Australian people about what is possible in parliamentary reform and a ‘‘changed way of doing politics’’.
They asked that Labor strategist Bruce Hawker assist with that.‘‘I have said I will facilitate that with a request to Mr Hawker,’’ she said.
‘‘It is my understanding they will make a similar request of Mr Abbott relating to someone more associated with the Liberal Party.’’
Ms Gillard guaranteed that if she formed a government, she would do her utmost to serve out a full term.
She said some things were ‘‘not in my hands’’, such as ill-health and by-elections.
‘‘If I was the incoming prime minister out of this process, to the extent that I could control it, my guarantee to go full term is unequivocal.’’
Ms Gillard said she had requested advice from the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet about publicly releasing the costings of Labor and the coalition’s election promises.
‘‘When that advice is received by me, I will of course release a copy of it to the independents, I will send a copy of it to Mr Abbott and I will release a copy of it publicly.’’
Ms Gillard said the requests of the independents went beyond the usual caretaker convention.
‘‘Some changes need to be made to the usual understanding of the caretaker conventions,’’ she said.
‘‘My predisposition is to amend the convention as necessary to facilitate the requests of the independents.’’
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