Can ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr recover from his torrid fortnight?


Updated

March 25, 2018 12:08:50

It was not a great fortnight for ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

His self-professed hatred of journalists — intimated to a group of communications professionals — caught fire when the comments inevitably leaked into the media early last week.

The Liberal Opposition could hardly believe the luck of being armed with a bad-character narrative supplied by the Chief Minister himself.

It was hardly surprising they used that ammunition with a failed censure motion when sitting resumed on Tuesday. After all, the Chief Minister admitted he would have done the same were the roles reversed.

But the outcome of Thursday’s vote, in which Mr Barr was found to have breached parliamentary rules over a spray at Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson, was far more telling.

First, a warning: The practical implications of this are nought.

Members breach standing orders all the time and usually end up with nothing more than a quick rap on the knuckles from the Speaker.

But this was different.

The territory’s politicians spent three full fiery hours this week debating the very character and temperament of the Chief Minister.

It culminated in a vote in which the Assembly — against Mr Barr’s wishes — effectively chastised the Chief Minister for his behaviour.

That is a problem for any leader, especially in a world where perception is power.

Then there is the uncomfortable fact the vote only got over the line because Labor’s partner in Government — the Greens — teamed up with the Opposition to make it happen.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury went as far to call the whole exchange a “tawdy affair”.

That is a far cry from bringing down the pair’s agreement (not to mention the Government), but it does say a lot about the state of the relationship.

For the moment, the Greens’ desire to distance themselves from Labor is largely symbolic.

But there are more substantial problems on the horizon.

The Government is facing questions of probity on multiple fronts, chiefly over the way Mr Barr’s own directorate handled a complicated land swap between it and the union-linked Tradies Club.

As those issues start to rear their head, the question will be exactly how uncomfortable the Greens are willing to get.

Topics:

government-and-politics,

local-government,

forms-of-government,

canberra-2600,

act,

australia

First posted

March 25, 2018 08:08:47



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