Fri Aug 02, 1991
c) Activism and social change
Labor Homos Ru(i)n Tasmania: the failure of consensus politics under the Field Labor Government
Consensus politics is inapproriate for Tasmania because it is based on an incorrect understanding of Tasmanian political culture.
(published in an anthology on the Labor/Green Accord in 1992)
When the Field Labor government came to power in Tasmania after eight years of Liberal rule it was quick to emulate what Michael Field's advisors saw as the Hawke government's winning formula for reform. Spurred on by the Labor stalwarts who poured in from Canberra the new government adopted a consensus approach to legislative change. Involving the creation of broad institutional coalitions, based on compromise and concession, to sustain moderate reform, this approach was understandably appealing to a minority government that could face an election at any time and was correspondingly desperate for constant populist appeal. In particular the fact of an indeterminate term has generated a sense of vulnerability on issues perceived to be electoral liabilities (and a particular sense of vulnerability to the deep divisions within Cabinet that such perceived electoral liabilities can cause). This sense of vulnerability has made consensus politics an indispensable approach to such issues.
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