Monday, 17 August 2009

They say a week is a long time in politics

Political strategist John Robinson of Kuranda, has relocated to Darwin for a time to raise the level of his bank account. He writes about the political turmoil from our Northernmost cousins.

They say a week is a long time in politics.

Politics in the Northern Territory has been in a bit of turmoil over the past few weeks. After being electorally savaged last year for “opportunistically” going to the polls early, Chief Minister Paul Henderson and his Labor government survived a vote of no-confidence last week, by one vote: 13-12.

That one vote came from Independent MP Gerry Wood. That's him pictured to the right, with a furry friend.
What is interesting is the cost of that single vote. Mr Henderson rolled over and signed a quite detailed agreement with Mr Wood. Like Queensland, the NT has only one parliamentary chamber. But now the NT effectively has one man acting as a house of review. One of the major conditions attached to Mr Wood’s support is a legislated Council of Territory Cooperation. This five-member (Wood and two from each side of politics), will be able to conduct inquiries, make recommendations on major matters of public importance and infrastructure developments. Notably, the first item referred will be the shambles of a $672 million Indigenous housing programme.

In Mr Woods long list of demands, agreed to by the Chief Minister, there are some good initiatives. The idea of a land planner being appointed to the inner sanctum of the relevant Minister’s office, does have merit.

But other aspects of the agreement are not so welcome. For instance, Labor members are not allowed to cross the floor on any legislation, quit the party, or challenge Paul Henderson for the top job. This, at a time when there are serious rumblings for a change at the top. It seems strange that someone who is not a member of the ALP can effectively dictate who the Labor leader is.

There is also a hell out a lot of pork-barrelling for Woods’ own electorate. If you thought Queensland was good at this, Mr Wood beats all, hands down. Sure his rural electorate does need youth centres, upgraded public reserves, regional waste facility; but then so too does much of the rest of the NT.

Gerry Wood, a former Shire President, UFO spotter and chicken farmer, says that his agreement will bring political stability. Looking at what is in it, and talking to people on both sides of the political divide, my gut feeling is that it will all breakdown sooner rather than later. Short term stability has come at the cost of a half-baked democracy where one man now has unprecedented control of the development and implementation of government policy.

It could only happen in the Territory.


nocturnal congress said...

Ughhh....too right, the Territory does things a wee bit differently...

Grogan McTaggart said...

He must be a serious "political strategist". That emu sculpture really gives him credibility, don't you think?

Constance Lloyd said...

Dear Grogan

If you really read the blog, you will see that John writes - "That one vote came from Independent MP Gerry Wood. That's him pictured to the right, with a furry friend. "

So the guy obviously with the emu sculpture is obviously not John.

Do you get it now!