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Democrats the only independent voice in Senate after Labor-Greens preference deal.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/929 SATURDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS DEMOCRATS THE ONLY INDEPENDENT VOICE IN SENATE AFTER LABOR-GREENS PREFERENCE DEAL “The Labor-Green deal is designed to remove the Democrats as the independent voice in the Senate,” said Senator Andrew Bartlett, leader of the Australian Democrats. “Labor want a compliant Green Party on their left flank in the Senate to replace the Democrats independent approach when Labor and Liberal disagree. In the Senate the Greens side with Labor over Liberals, so it is no Labor and the Greens have done a deal to try and get rid of the Democrats.” “The Democrats will work to improve legislation, whoever the Australian people elect to Government - even if it is John Howard again. But Bob Brown has said he will not work with the Liberals in the Senate if they are elected. That’s just disrespect for democracy. I - and many other Democrats - say John Howard should not be re-elected. We have fought his stance on the Iraq war, on refugees and on dividing the community. But bread and butter issues like superannuation legislation should be decided on merit, not ideological divides. “Voters should fight this back room dealing and make their own decision about where their preferences go. “The Democrats take an independent approach to preferences to try and prevent either of the major parties controlling the Senate. “The Greens will also put Labor ahead of the Democrats in key House of Representatives seats, pretend this is about policy instead of political self-interest, and bare-facedly try to smear the Democrats at the same time. “On the same day the Greens and Labor do a deal to try and remove the only indigenous member of Federal Parliament in NSW, in South Australia they attack us for preferencing an Indigenous woman from a party that has done far more than the SA Green MP on issues like child abuse. The Greens’ hypocrisy is breathtaking. “Despite the Green Party’s policies opposing the ALP’s on many issues, the Greens are rewarding Labor’s frequent policy sell-outs with a preference sell out of their own, in order to try and remove the Democrats from the Senate. The Greens will reward Labor with a preference bonanza despite Labor’s sell outs on the Free Trade Agreement, the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, and same sex relationships. “This Green Party power grab shows the Democrats are the only Senate choice that is independent of the major parties,” concluded Senator Bartlett. Media contact - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649