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Australian Capital Territory: possibility of a Liberal Government following the election

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Are you going to effectively claim victory this morning, Kate Carnell?

KATE CARNELL: Oh, no, I am not going to claim victory, except a moral victory, Elizabeth. Certainly the Canberra Liberals got more of the vote, in fact substantially more of the vote, than anybody else. We got over 40 per cent of the vote, the Labor Party are round about the 30 per cent, so there is a 10 per cent gap there, Elizabeth, and I don't think anyone would argue with me that that's a real moral victory. There was an 11 per cent swing against the Labor Party, in fact one in four Labor voters moved away from them in this particular election.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: So should you be Chief Minister?

KATE CARNELL: I think, Elizabeth, it is a moral victory for the Canberra Liberals, and from that perspective I am sure that the Independents will look at what the people of Canberra said when they choose who will be Chief Minister. And at this stage, well not at this stage, the vote is virtually finalised at this stage, the people of Canberra have said that they want a Liberal minority government. They have certainly suggested that they want Independents in there, that they want Independents to be part of the process - I think that is important.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: But do they want you as Chief Minister?

KATE CARNELL: I think so, I think that the issue really is that 40 per cent of people voted for the Canberra Liberals and 30 per cent of people voted for the Labor Party. I think that they have said that they want a Liberal minority government. Now, whether that makes me Chief Minister or somebody else, I suppose is an issue for the Assembly, but they certainly want a Liberal minority government, we believe, and I think 40 per cent of Canberrans believe too.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Are you going to be Chief Minister, do you think?

KATE CARNELL: Kerry Tucker is obviously very concerned. She is going to take this whole issue of voting for Chief Minister quite seriously, she might abstain, she hasn't said which way she is going to go.

Elizabeth, I am sure that all of the Independents will take this very, very, seriously. I've had in depth discussions with Michael Moore and I believe that Michael Moore is looking at the Canberra Liberals somewhat positively. Certainly Michael hasn't as yet made a commitment one way or the other, but I am quietly confident about Michael's position on this, and I believe that yes, that the Canberra Liberals - as I think, morally we should - will form government.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: You need more than Michael though, you need Paul Osborne.

KATE CARNELL: Paul Osborne and I have had discussions, but Paul made it really quite clear. It's interesting that Paul is the only Independent that has, that he would support for chief minister, the party that had the most votes. He hasn't moved away from that even slightly. We certainly have the most votes and Paul is sticking by the position that he took even before the election, which is, vote for the Chief Minister from the party that the people of Canberra gave theindustrial relations mandate to.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Okay, with your own seats and with Paul Osborne and with Michael Moore, you'll have nine - you'll be chief.

KATE CARNELL: Well, certainly we believe that that is what will happen, we are quietly confident, Elizabeth. But, back to the reason we are quietly confident is because we believe strongly that the Independents will run with the will of the people of Canberra, and the will of the people of Canberra is a Liberal minority government.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Now, it seems to me that Michael Moore's education policy is more aligned to the policy proposed by the ALP, yet you offered him the education portfolio.

KATE CARNELL: I don't actually believe it is, Elizabeth. The Liberals' education policy talked about absolutely no cuts in education funding. I believe education is absolutely central to all social justice, to all society, to employment, to all of those sorts of things, which is the reason that we categorically said there would be no cuts in education, which is a huge commitment with the cuts in Commonwealth funding that will happen over the next few years. I don't believe that Michael's policy and ours are all that different, and I believe really strongly in inclusion in the Assembly; that means that we believe that every member of the Assembly should be able to input into Government. That's the city council style that I talked about at length before the election and we will be looking at ways, of course, if we take Government, to ensure that everybody, whether it be Kerry, or Lucy, or Michael, or Paul, all members of the Labor Party, have as much input as they want into the running of this place.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Let me ask you about the Greens. Kerry Tucker didn't give very much away earlier on, but she did say that she said hello to you, and indicated that she had some informal talks with the Labor members. Do you think the Greens are on your side?

KATE CARNELL: I don't think the Greens are on the Labor Party side or the Liberal Party side, as they shouldn't be, Elizabeth. They stood on a platform of their own, I think they are on the side of their own party, which is the Greens.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Yeah, but the bottom line is, it is important now and discussing the make up of the Assembly as to which side they lean. We all know that.

KATE CARNELL: Well, that's certainly the case and we will be discussing that with them. Kerry is quite right, that we have only had very preliminary hello-type discussions. Well, we'll have discussions with them, because it is really important that whoever forms government, that it is a stable government, and that it is a government that can get on with the job. What I am not willing to do, Elizabeth, and I have made this really clear to everybody, is walk away from the platform upon which we stood. We are certainly not willing to trade that away.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Are you keen to get the Greens on side, or don't you really need them?

KATE CARNELL: I am keen to have everyone on side. I am keen to have the Labor Party on side, but I expect that there are some things that will be possible and some things that won't be.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Is this going to be possible?

KATE CARNELL: Look, I really hope so, and the Greens have given me every indication that they are not necessarily coming down on the side of the Labor Party, or for that matter our side. Look, if we are going to have a good Assembly it's got to be an enthusiastic one, it's got to be one that wants to get on with the job, and so it's got to be one that everybody feels that they are part of. I believe that a Canberra Liberal Government under me will be able to achieve that enthusiasm.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Now, I believe that you have asked the Chief Minister to lock the files and not to shred any documents. What reaction did you get when you put that request to them?

KATE CARNELL: Well, Elizabeth, I put that to the Chief Minister last week and unfortunately they gave me absolutely .. well the response they gave me didn't talk about shredding or closing files or anything at all. It was just a repeat of a letter that we all got last November, about when the Government went into caretaker mode. It seems the Government isn't willing to give the commitment that they won't shred documents, now that's very scary, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: So you are obviously quite concerned about that?

KATE CARNELL: Well, I am concerned about it. They claim that they don't have any documents that are important or confidential or anything like that. Now, I can't believe that at all. I think it's just normal, sensible, transition politics to seal files and to give an undertaking that there will be no shredding of documents. Unfortunately I haven't got that commitment at the moment.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Mrs Carnell, let me just finally ask you - now I assume you'd be totally opposed to any form of push polling being introduced into the political scene; did your head office make a big mistake with this poll involving Sue Robinson?

KATE CARNELL: Elizabeth, it's certainly not the sort of polling that I like or would support. I think one of the great things about this campaign, and I think the Labor Party deserve a pat on the back, as do everybody in terms of the ACT Assembly campaign, and that is that none of that sort of carry-on went on, that it was an issue-based campaign and one that, you know, policies were on the table ....

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Are you a bit embarrassed about this poll?

KATE CARNELL: I don't think personal politics or those sort of personal slur campaigns ever do anybody any good and I think we all, Mr Moore, the Labor Party, the Canberra Liberals, everybody ....

ELIZABETH JACKSON: But this was your party, this was the Liberals.

KATE CARNELL: Well, it certainly wasn't the Canberra Liberals, Elizabeth, and the campaign that we've had anything to do with, and everybody else in the last election, really did concentrate on issues, and I think, well, I am very proud of everyone in our election and I think that's the way every campaign should work.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Alright, Kate Carnell, thanks for coming in this morning.