Minority Government CAN Work Better

Minority Government* can improve decision-making.

paul-henderson

Photo pinched from Paul Henderson’s Facebook profile

Then-Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson and I had a good chat – in early 2011 – about how his Government was working: his observations were acute, surprising and valuable.

In order to preserve the NT’s minority Labor Government, Paul and his team had entered into an agreement with Independent Member of the Legislative Assembly Gerry Wood: some of the agreement’s details are set out in the New South Wales Parliament’s paper, linked below.

The agreement with Wood, as well as support for his electorate and specific projects, focussed on parliamentary and constitutional reforms, innovatively the establishment of “a cross-party Council of Territory Cooperation, comprising 2 Government members, 2 Opposition members and at least one Independent. Among its objects would be to enhance inclusion and transparency in decision making.”

“The Government also agreed to reform parliamentary procedures, including reform of question time to allow more non-government questions.”

According to Paul, having Gerry Wood this close to the Government forced an additional dimension to major Government decisions – whether they would be supported by Gerry Wood or not – and this additional test significantly improved the quality, effectiveness, and viability of the decisions made.

Peter Wellington

Peter Wellington

Paul saw Gerry’s role as a positive for the community and the Territory, as well as for the Labor Government.

Now, that only works if the person offering support to a minority Government genuinely supports good governance, is of good character, committed to democracy, tolerant and respectful, and an honest negotiator**.  That is, if they are much like former policeman and solicitor, now Independent Member of Parliament, Peter Wellington in Queensland***.

 

 

*    Minority Governments are nothing new in Australia or Queensland:
www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/MinorityGovernmentsinAustralia1989-2009:Accords,ChartersandAgreements
www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2010/08/23/glance-australias-minority-governments
www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1011/11rp04
The Borbidge government in Queensland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Borbidge#National_Party_leadership
**    If they are otherwise, Government must inevitably descend into ugly, tainted bargaining about the improper allocation of resources, and the making of bad decisions.
***    Former policeman and solicitor Mr Wellington has backed a minority Labor Government before, so is a known quantity, to some extent: http://www.queenslandspeaks.com.au/peter-wellington and http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/peter-wellington-most-powerful-man-in-queensland-politics-20150216-13ghou.html

About Mike Smith

Partner in Ethical Consulting Services: www.ethicalconsulting.com; Ethical strategies and programs which get you where you need to go ... * Exceptional government & stakeholder relations, * Thriving governance systems, * Specialised project facilitation, * Inbound investment assistance, * Successful marketing, communications and PR campaigns ... and customised training in each of these areas.

Posted on February 24, 2015, in Change, Culture, Democracy, Election, Governance, Government decision-making, Political tactics, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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