Like many governments, Team Bartlett had planned the last sitting day of the House of Assembly for 2010 carefully and strategically.
After a tumultuous time that had seen a majority Labor government that had sworn never to sup with the devil turn into a minority Labor government only in power with the support of the devil itself (in this case the Tasmanian Greens), 2010 was a milestone year for Tasmanian politics in anyone’s terms.
With the Liberal Opposition clearly lined up to throw missiles about inertia, fence-sitting, tail-wagging and green tinges at the Labor government and its Greens partners—whom the Liberals detest even more than Labor—the best David Bartlett could hope for on Parliament’s last day was some clean air.
And, hopefully, the first chance in Question Time to imprint his positive spin of the benefits and gains of the 2010 power-sharing government on the day, and into Hansard for posterity.
But the hapless Mr Bartlett got neither.
First, the 10 Liberal MPs stood up one after the other and read out as motions, even before Question Time had started, the litany of what the Opposition perceives to be the Government’s failings and woes.
Systemic failure in child protection. A new $90 million jail unable to secure prisoners. A tragic death at Ashley youth detention centre. A $1 billion new police boat that almost sinks. A forestry industry facing closure. Multiple factory closures and job losses across the North.
Then, immediately, came Ms Thorp’s implosion.
Next came a parade of Liberal questions claiming that legislation listed in March as urgent and highly desirable for the Parliament to pass—including Bills on food safety, Aboriginal heritage and ship pollution—had not even been introduced by a dithering and weak Government into the House.
With it all went any chance of controlling the political agenda and winning a moral victory before the House rose for Christmas and the politicians’ long summer break.
Yet the Premier had some good points to make, if he had been given the political space.
Though the year was politically difficult for Labor, both Mr Bartlett and Greens leader Nick McKim personally acquitted themselves with aplomb, as the effective joint leaders of the strange new amalgam resulting from the March 2010 hung parliament election result.
The two are clearly united, in sync and both well aware that if the unholy union falls, so too will both their political stars.
And other initiatives are starting to emerge at last that have Mr Bartlett’s own stamp on them.
But it was not debate about those tentative signs of a different Tasmania ahead that provided the brightest shining light of the parliamentary week referred to above.
Instead it was Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest who delivered the stellar performance, in her adjournment speech dissecting the true state of the state’s finances: On Tasmanian Times: HERE: Will Aird’s Legacy be Giddings’ Great Challenge
Her speech in the Upper House was everything a good parliamentarian could hope for.
Ms Forrest had put in the hard yards, showing why the word ``forensic’’ is often attached to her highly researched parliamentary contributions and committee work.
While Ms Forrest is facing a tough election next year in her North-West electorate of Murchison, it is not as if she is simply working at raising her profile for her own personal gain ahead of that election date.
Instead, Ms Forrest gives the impression that she believes in what she is doing, and lives by the maxim that if a job is worth doing it is worth doing properly.