ACT LABOR has secured another four years in office after Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury announced his decision to support Katy Gallagher and the Party to form Government, ending a week of negotiations.
Rattenbury signed a Parliamentary Agreement with the ALP today, which includes a comprehensive list of policies, initiatives and reforms to be implemented over the next four years.
The negotiations also see Rattenbury appointed as a Minister, but he will not know which portfolio he will have until ACT Labor Caucus meets.
Addressing a packed media room, Rattenbury said he hoped to make the ACT government the “most progressive and green” in Australia.
“Being the sole Greens representative in the Assembly and making such a critical decision about the ACT’s future government has been challenging and I have taken this decision with the utmost seriousness,” he said.
“I have been heartened by the gracious support and good advice from many people over the past week, including the membership of the ACT Greens.”
Rattenbury said he had had “constructive” conversations with the Liberal party this week but felt the ALP “put a more substantial policy response on the table.”
“It would also be irresponsible of me to form government with a party that is committed to undoing the progressive tax reforms that have been implemented,” he said.
A range of policies key to the Greens and key to creating a sustainable and progressive ACT were at the heart of Rattenbury’s decision, including progressing a light rail network, cleaning up Canberra’s lakes, delivering a 40 per cent climate change target, implementing the ‘Gonski’ education reforms and combating homelessness.
“The negotiations resulted in what I consider to be an excellent policy agreement, with nearly 100 items to be implemented over the next four years, covering the full policy spectrum,” he said.
Rattenbury said he had offered to support the Liberal Party to elect a Liberal Speaker to the Assembly.
Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, flanked by other members of the Labor Party, proposed to progress her party’s “good work.”
“We’ve come through an incredibly tough and incredibly close election, and now comes the time to knuckle down,” she said.
“I genuinely believe Labor’s vision is the right vision for the future of this city. [We] will focus on health, education, jobs and delivering services Canberrans want on the ground.”
A frustrated opposition leader Zed Seselja addressed the crowd, expressing his disappointment at the decision.
“There will be many tens of thousands of Canberrans who put their faith in us, who will also be disappointed…but we will fight on,” he said.
“This will be the first time in the territory the party who received the most votes in the electorate doesn’t have the opportunity to form government. [I told Shane] I thought it would be a mistake for them to go into a closer coalition.
“I don’t believe 15 years of Labor will be good for this Territory. I don’t believe the government will suddenly do things better than they have over the last few years.”
Seselja did not believe the situation would be different if he had offered Rattenbury ministry.
“We’ve been through this twice. When the Labor party won the popular vote, the Greens backed them, when we won the popular vote, the Greens backed Labor, when we offered them ministry the Greens backed labor, and when we didn’t they backed Labor,” he says.
“I don’t believe it’s possible [for The Liberals form a Government] when the Greens are in that position of power.”
He confirmed he will continue to serve as leader of the opposition, but said he “didn’t rule anything out” when questioned on his movements over the next few years.
Photos by Silas Brown