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Pyne says Labor Government better than a hung parliament

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Senior South Australian Liberal Christopher Pyne says he’d rather lose office than take part in a power-sharing arrangement with independents or minor parties.

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It comes as the state’s Local Government Association positions itself to cash in on a likely Lower House stalemate after the July 2 federal election.

The Industry Minister told the audience at a CEDA event yesterday afternoon he would rather a Labor Government governing in its own right than any kind of minority government.

He pointed to the Weatherill Labor Government – which includes in its cabinet former Liberal Party leader Martin Hamilton-Smith – arguing the arrangement doesn’t “work”.

“I’d always prefer a Labor Government or Liberal Government than some sort of power-sharing arrangement,” Pyne said.

“I don’t think it has worked for South Australia.”

Labor Senator Penny Wong told the audience that “the last thing we need is these ludicrous [minor] parties” helping to form government after July 2.

The major parties have intensified their rhetoric in recent days, with the fledgling Nick Xenophon Team firmly in their sights, as national polls continue to suggest the prospect of a hung parliament is again a looming possibility.

Wong told the audience Xenophon was talking “to people’s fears” in his election campaign – while Pyne suggested Xenophon was able to “agree with every interlocutor he talks to” because he would never be in a position to implement his policies in government.

Both Pyne and Wong objected when moderator and prominent ABC journalist Fran Kelly suggested many Australians believed Xenophon to be the “sensible centre” of politics.

“He’s voted with the Greens two-thirds of the time,” Pyne said.

But while the prospect of a hung parliament terrifies Labor and Liberal, the state Local Government Association is moving to capitalise on the potential gridlock, today writing to Nick Xenophon and the SA Greens to flag issues “councils would like to see on the table in negotiations should minor parties determine who forms Government”.

LGA President Dave Burgess said with “a very real chance the Nick Xenophon Team and the Greens could hold the balance of power… we need to capitalise on this opportunity for SA”.

“We are a not kingmakers – we are an independent sector of government – but polls are polls, and under these circumstances it would be a lost opportunity if we didn’t advocate for our state and the communities local government is closest to,” he told InDaily in a statement.

He said the LGA would emphasise re-indexation of Financial Assistance Grants provided to councils, an increase in the grants’ funding base from $2.3 billion to $3.8 billion and the immediate reinstatement of $20 million in supplementary road funding “to bring us up to an equitable level with other states”.

“Strong support for the communities of Whyalla and the Upper Spencer Gulf, and a procurement policy which maximises the use of Australian steel in all projects undertaken or funded by the Federal Government are also on our agenda,” said Burgess.

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