3886Re: Proof of the pudding
- Dec 26, 2003The Australian
Bartlett attack starts Dems-Greens war
By Jamie Walker
December 27, 2003
Embattled Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett has fired the
opening salvo in a do-or-die election duel with the Greens, accusing
Bob Brown of leading a "Marxist-tinged" party that reserved the right
to block supply in the Senate.
Senator Bartlett also hit out at the Greens for misrepresenting
Democrat policies, and said they had relied on One Nation preferences
to win a NSW Senate seat.
The incendiary comments, made to The Australian before Senator
Bartlett was forced by his pre-Christmas indiscretions in parliament
to take indefinite leave, will deepen hostility between the minority
parties as they prepare to face off for Senate seats at next year's
Senator Bartlett said the Greens' economic policies were "hardline
Left" and basically anti-capitalist.
Their "Marxist-tinge, bring down the system" approach was reflected
in Senator Brown's insistence on retaining the right to block
government money bills -- "about the only thing you get the Coalition
and the Greens agreeing on", he said.
"It will certainly suit their way of doing things to take that
particular approach with supply," he said. "I'm all for standing up
for Senate powers ... but I don't think that's one we need to
Senator Bartlett said Greens campaign literature distributed on
behalf of Kerry Nettle, who narrowly won her NSW Senate seat at the
expense of the Democrats in 2001, had blatantly misrepresented the
Democrats' record by claiming they supported mandatory detention of
He said the Greens were "very, very quiet about the fact" Senator
Nettle had won her seat with One Nation preferences.
But a spokesman for Senator Brown said Senator Bartlett was wrong to
imply there had been any deal with One Nation. Senator Nettle had
been elected on preferences from a range of groups including One
Nation -- "that's how the preferential voting system works".
"It benefited (Democrats senator) Lyn Allison in the same way in
Victoria," the spokesman said.
On the question of Senator Brown reserving the right to block supply
in the Senate, this was only in the event of gross maladministration
or corruption by a government.
Senator Bartlett's attack under lines the pressure on the Democrats
as the party flounders in the polls.
The last Newspoll put the Democrats' vote at a dismal 1per cent,
compared with 5per cent for the Greens. On that basis the Democrats
would lose three senators at a half-Senate election, and most, if not
all, of their existing line-up of seven in a double dissolution poll.
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