Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim is pushing for a written agreement in return for party support. In Inside Story, Brian Costar and Jennifer Curtin look at the precedents
FROM THE mid-1980s, with the growing number and influence of independent and small-party MPs in Australian parliaments, an important new ingredient emerged in state and territory politics: charters negotiated between independent MPs (or, in one case, the Greens) and the major parties as a precondition for supporting a minority government.
These charters usually committed the governing party to a range of parliamentary initiatives to promote executive accountability and honesty; in return, the independents undertook not to bring down the government by voting against supply or confidence motions. The independents reserved their right to consider all other legislation on its merits and to vote accordingly. Sometimes the charters imposed policy demands on the government; improved rural infrastructure and services, and environmental protection are recurrent themes...