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3886Re: Proof of the pudding

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  • ozleft
    Dec 26, 2003
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      The 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
      federal election.

      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
      retain."

      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
      asylum-seekers.

      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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