Thursday, September 02, 2010

Wilkie Signs With Labor

Independent Andrew Wilkie, from Tasmania, has today signed an agreement to support a Labor minority government, IF Julia Gillard is able to form one. That might be more likely, but by no means certain, as Bob Katter, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor consider their positions over the weekend.

The terms agreed to include $340 Million for Hobart Hospital, and $1.8 Billion for hospitals across the nation; and a commitment to force states to use smart cards on poker machines, if they don't agree voluntarily. This will take some negotiation, and the states, addicted to gambling revenue, will resist staunchly.

Wilkie reportedly rejected an offer of almost $1 Billion for Hobart Hospital from Tony Abbott - perhaps he was prepared to forget about the rest, or cut another $Billion from their funding.

Simply throwing money at one electorate would have readily been seen by the electorate as "pork barrelling" - corruption by any other name. Julia Gillard seems to have at least provided it as part of a greater level of funding for other hospitals.

Given his treatment by the former Liberal PM, John Howard, after Wilkie's whistle-blowing about questionable intelligence being used to justify the invasion of Iraq, it was always hard to see him agreeing to terms with members of that same former, Liberal-National Coalition government.