Expert backs stable outcome

by Chris Griffith
Written 17 December 1995


my face


A Queensland constitutional lawyer yesterday said there were precedents to show how stable government could be achieved if Gladstone Independent Liz Cunningham held the balance of power in a hung Queensland Parliament.

Professor Chris Gilbert said if Labor lost Mundingburra, Mrs Cunningham could be in a similar position to the five Tasmanian Green independents who held the balance of power after the May 1989 Tasmanian state election.

In 1989, incumbent Tasmanian Premier Robin Gray prorogued Parliament and tried to hold onto power after losing his parliamentary majority. It was widely believed Mr Grey asked Tasmanian Governor Sir Philip Bennett for a fresh election, but was refused.

However after lengthy behind the scenes negotiations, the five Green Independents forged an alliance with then Labor Opposition Leader Michael Field.

Sir Philip asked the Green independents for a written guarantee of supply and stable government. Sir Philip also interviewed each Green separately, and asked for the same guarantees face to face.

On that basis Sir Philip invited Mr Field to form a government. The Labor-Green alliance lasted 2 1/2 years.

Prof Gilbert said Queensland Governor Leneen Forde could place similar demands on Mrs Cunningham should the Liberal Party win Mundingburra.

But he said in this scenario, Mrs Cunningham clearly would have to support one side of politics or the other.

So far Mrs Cunningham has refused to enter a formal arrangement with either Labor or the Coalition -- she says there has been no need to do so.

But her views on issues ranging from gun control laws and corporal punishment to truth in sentencing suggest she would be at home with the Coalition.

Instead Mrs Cunningham has given an assurance of stable government and has repeatedly said she was committed to parliament running its full three-year term.