Politics with Michelle Grattan

Andrew Wilkie invites independent candidates to call him for a chat about approaching a hung parliament

April 20, 2022

Andrew Wilkie, MP for the Tasmanian seat of Clark, has “lived” a hung parliament. In 2010, Wilkie did a formal “deal” to support Julia Gillard. When later she didn’t deliver on his key issue of gambling reform, he broke it off.

In this podcast Wilkie explains how he would approach the situation if the election produces no clear winner. No deals. But maybe a letter on giving confidence and supply.

He suggests independent candidates – who are being assailed with questions about which side they would support in a hung parliament – should contact him for a chat about how to approach that situation, and the role of crossbenchers generally.

“If they give me a call and ask what I think, I’ll tell them how I’ve navigated my way through the last 12 years and what my community has thought of it,” he says.

 

“I’ve explained how I’m going to approach things, and it’s always been well received by my community. In fact, my primary vote and two-party preferred has increased in every election. So whatever formulation I’m using seems to work.

"It might be something that some of these new independent candidates might want to just observe and think about. I think it is useful to give some indication of your thought processes,” Wilkie says.

“I see my role as being a constructive one. It’s to ensure we have an effective government for the next three years. My job isn’t to pull down any party or pull down any government. So if the Australian community elects a group of people and no party has an absolute majority, I will look for ways to be constructive.”

Wilkie strongly defends the role of crossbenchers, rejecting Scott Morrison’s argument that a hung parliament would make for instability. Their role can be useful even when there is majority government, Wilkie says.

He concedes that when crossbenchers are in a position of power – as under Gillard – their electorates get favoured treatment and that this isn’t “fair” (although he admits he was happy to seek and take the funds).

He recalls favourably Anthony Albanese’s performance as manager of government business in the Gillard government. “I credit him with being very skilled and effective at corralling the crossbench and ensuring stability of the parliament.”

“If Anthony Albanese finds himself negotiating with the crossbench, he’s got form. And I suppose I can probably say the same about Scott Morrison over the last few years, because he’s been almost in minority for most of it, and he’s managed to keep what I’ll call the independent crossbenchers pretty much in line.”

As for the election campaigning, “In my opinion, this is the worst campaign I’ve observed as far as the mudslinging and the dishonesty. I mean, there used to be some limits on the dishonesty of the political parties in the candidates, but there seem to be no limits at this election.”

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