Labor-Green Accord

Labor-Green Accord

The Labor-Green Accord was a 1989 political agreement between the Australian Labor Party and the Tasmanian Greens (then called the Green Independents) to form government in the Australian state of Tasmania after the 1989 general election had resulted in a hung parliament.

1989 Tasmanian election

The election took place on 13 May 1989. Tasmanian elections use the Hare-Clark Proportional method of Single Transferable Votes, and in 1989 the Tasmanian House of Assembly (the lower house of the Parliament of Tasmania) consisted of 35 seats – five members from each of Tasmania's seven electorates.

The Liberal Party led by Premier Robin Gray won 17 seats, Labor (led by Michael Field) won 13. The Green Independents won 5 seats, giving them the balance of power in the parliament.

The five Green MPs and their electorates were Dr. Bob Brown (Denison), Christine Milne (Lyons), Dr. Gerry Bates (Franklin), Mike Foley (Franklin) and Di Hollister (Braddon).

Premier Robin Gray refused concede defeat, and announced his intention to form a minority government, exercising his right to stay on as Premier until the House of Assembly voted against him. [Green, Antony: [ What is likelihood of independents holding the balance of power after the election?] , Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 July 2004.] He also stated that if Labor and the Greens attempted to do a deal to form government, he would advise the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Phillip Bennett, to dissolve parliament and call a fresh election.Tanner, Stephen (1995): [ The Rise and Fall of Edmund Rouse] . "Australian Studies in Journalism" (4): 72-89.]

The accord was signed on 29 May. Governor Bennett considered Gray's request to call another election but declined, as constitutionally the government was in caretaker mode, and he had assurances from the Greens that they would support Field's government. [McGarvie, Richard (1999): [ Democracy: choosing Australia's republic] . Melbourne University Press.]

Edmund Rouse bribery scandal

The formation of the Labor-Green alliance resulted in one of the biggest scandals in Tasmanian political history. Launceston businessman Edmund Rouse was the managing director of ENT Limited, Tasmania's largest media company. Returning to Tasmania from an overseas trip shortly after the election, Rouse was dismayed to find the Greens in a position of power in government, and was determined to take on what he saw as a grave threat to the Tasmanian and Australian economies.Tanner] In particular, Rouse was concerned with the effect on the Tasmanian timber company Gunns, of which he was chairman, and which he thought stood to lose between $10 million and $15 million dollars as a result of the Greens' environmental policies.Darby, Andrew: [ The hubris that brought an island dynasty undone] , "The Age", 4 August 2002.]

Using a former employee, Tony Aloi, as an intermediary, Rouse offered Labor MP Jim Cox AUD $110,000 to cross the floor and vote with the Liberals to defeat the presumed motion of no confidence against Gray when parliament resumed. Cox informed Field of the offer, and the call was dismissed as a hoax until an instalment of $5,000 arrived at Cox's home. Cox reported the bribery attempt to Tasmania Police, who placed a tap on his phone and arrested Aloi on June 23 as he called Cox from a telephone box.Tanner]

Rouse was arrested several days later, after Aloi revealed his role in the affair. Rouse was charged with attempted bribery, and sentenced to three years in prison, of which he served eighteen months. Aloi was sentenced to twelve months prison, with eight months suspended sentence.Tanner]

A Royal Commission ("Royal Commission into an Attempt to Bribe a Member of the House of Assembly") was held in 1991, which attempted to determine the involvement of Robin Gray in the affair. Gray was cleared of involvement in the bribe attempt, as no connection between him and Rouse was established, although he had met with Rouse shortly before the bribe was offered and discussed a possible Labor defector. Gray's conduct was criticised by the Commission, however, and his political career and reputation were tarnished.Tanner]

Environmental concessions

In return for the promise of stable government, the Parliamentary Accord committed both parties to work towards common objectives, balancing broad changes to environmental management policies with Tasmania's economic and employment concerns. [Davies, Bob: [ Managing Tasmania's environment] , Australian Bureau of Statistics, 13 September 2002.] Several environmental and social policies requested by the Greens were implemented [ [ For the Forests - Chronology] , The Wilderness Society.] , including:
* a moratorium on logging in National Estate areas not already approved
* a limit on the state's woodchip export quota
* ending the attempts to build a pulp mill at Wesley Vale, and closure of a chip mill in the Huon
* freedom of information legislation

Collapse of the accord

The Greens terminated the accord after 409 days on 1 October 1990, when the state cabinet announced its adoption of the Federal Government's Forests and Forest Industry Strategy (FFIS), however an election was not required until 1992. [ [ 1384.6 - Statistics - Tasmania, 2005] , Australian Bureau of Statistics.] The accord was never considered a coalition government, as the Green MPs had no ministerial responsibilities, and as such had no say in the adoption of the forestry policy.

Michael Field and Christine Milne spoke about the breakdown of the accord to the ABC program "Stateline" in 2006. Field compared the relationship between Labor and the Greens to a "forced marriage" which ended in a "very acrimonious divorce". Milne stated:

"What destroyed the Labor-Green Accord was the betrayal of the Greens by the Labor Party over resource security legislation." [Ward, Airlie: [ Minority Government] , "Stateline Tasmania" (ABC TV), 10 March 2006.]

After the accord

After the breakdown of the accord, an election was called for 1 February 1992. Although the Greens retained all of their five seats, Labor lost two seats to the Liberals, led by Ray Groom, who now had a majority.

The next election in 1996 saw Labor regain three seats and the Greens lose one. Ray Groom, who had promised before the election to only govern with a majority, resigned and handed the leadership to Tony Rundle, who formed a loose alliance with the Greens to govern in a minority until 1998, when the major parties voted to restructure the House of Assembly (from 35 to 25 seats) in an attempt to make it more difficult for minor parties to be elected. Rundle immediately called an election, which Labor won in a landslide, leaving the Greens with only one seat.

Christine Milne led the Tasmanian Greens from 1993, when Bob Brown left to make an unsuccessful bid for the Federal House of Representatives. He was elected as a Senator in 1996, and Milne followed him to become a Senator in 2004.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Accord — is of the semantic paradigm: agreement, harmony, alignment or concurrence and may refer to: Places* Accord, New York, a hamlet in Ulster County, seat of the Town of RochesterPeace agreements*Arab Israeli conflict ** Camp David Accords (1978) in… …   Wikipedia

  • Green Line (Washington Metro) —      Green Line …   Wikipedia

  • Farm Labor Organizing Committee — Infobox Union name= FLOC full name= Farm Labor Organizing Committee founded= 1967 country= United States office= Toledo, Ohio people= website= [] affiliation= AFL CIO members= 23,300 native name= current= head=… …   Wikipedia

  • Conference for Progressive Labor Action — This cartoon from the monthly magazine of the CPLA illustrates the organization s view of the American Federation of Labor. The Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA) was a left wing American political organization established in May 1929 …   Wikipedia

  • Geneva Accord — This article is about the proposal for peace between Israel and Palestine. There was also a Geneva Accord that concerned Vietnam, Geneva Accords that concerned Afghanistan, other Geneva Conventions and other Geneva Conferences .The Draft… …   Wikipedia

  • David Llewellyn (Australian politician) — The Honourable David Llewellyn Deputy Premier of Tasmania In office 22 March 2004 – 5 April 2006 Premier Paul Lennon Preceded by Paul Lennon …   Wikipedia

  • Christine Milne — Senator Christine Milne BA(Hons), CertEduc Senator for Tasmania Incumbent …   Wikipedia

  • History of Tasmania — The history of Tasmania begins at the end of the most recent ice age (approximately 10 000 years ago) when it is believed that the island was joined to the Australian mainland.Indigenous peopleTasmania was totally inhabited by an indigenous… …   Wikipedia

  • Tasmanian state election, 1989 — Distribution of SeatsAftermathAfter the election the Liberals had lost majority by one seat and the Greens gained the balance of power.The Australian Labor Party had suffered a minor swing against them, they lost one seat in Lyons to the Greens.… …   Wikipedia

  • Phillip Bennett — Infobox Officeholder honorific prefix = Sir name = Phillip Bennett honorific suffix = AC, KBE, DSO, KStJ imagesize = small caption = order = 23rd office = Governor of Tasmania term start = October 19, 1987 term end = October 2, 1995 lieutenant =… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.