Page 1855 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 17 June 2008
Assembly, I was the least experienced of all of the Labor members in the parliamentary sense. My job before coming to the Assembly was basically worrying politicians. I came here and I was amongst some experienced people in the form of the Labor team, most of whom have had some connection with parliamentary experience as advisers or as members of the former House of Assembly. On the opposition benches, of course, the most notable was Trevor Kaine.
I bumped into Trevor in my pre-Assembly years. He struck me as a somewhat pukka chap. He had the carriage of an officer type, and he was a member of the Liberal Party. I formed the view that he was fairly conservative. I do not like the term “old-fashioned conservative.” I think there were things that Trevor was attached to that he wanted to keep in the political sense. There were some of us who just had a different view about the world. There were some things that we wanted to get rid of, and it was simply an argument—a standing, really—about philosophy.
When we first were elected, it was a worrying period for those of us who then had the job of trying to make this place work. I recall having several meetings about how a government might be formed. You can imagine the speculation, given the diverse groups which had been elected to this place. The Labor Party had the most people elected and, therefore, felt that we were the most likely to be able to put together some form of stable government. The other side—the Liberals—had four members, and then there was a grab bag of people from all over the place—the No Self-Government Party, the Abolish Self-Government Coalition and the Residents Rally—and we quickly formed the view that it would be impossible to make some sort of alliance work in those early days.
As I say, we had many meetings and discussions about this, and at one stage I was sent—dispatched, if you like—to talk to the leader of the Liberals about what might come out of this. The Labor Party had formed the view that we needed an opposition, because the Westminster system that we were trying to work within would not work unless there was an organised opposition, and it obviously had to be the majority party of standing in the place—that is, whoever was not able to put together a government with a chief minister.
I had the discussions with Trevor, and I was immediately impressed by his understanding of the issues. With his experience, he knew that there had to be an opposition to hold accountable whoever formed the government. I am just trying to work out whether the meeting I had with Trevor was before or after the one that has been spoken about. My feeling is that it was before, and I walked away from the meeting confident that Trevor would make sure that Rosemary Follett was elected as Chief Minister. I think he had realised that we were the only ones that were likely to put forward a government. So I am confident it was Trevor’s vote that installed the first Chief Minister.
There were no misconceptions about it. Everybody knew it was Trevor’s job then to hold us accountable and perhaps form a government himself in due course, which he did, as if by some magic. It was a very difficult group of different people, and, as you can imagine, the Residents Rally, as it was called, fell apart. One of theirs jumped ship because Michael Moore could see that the Residents Rally had really betrayed all of what it stood for by joining the conservative government and knocking over a