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Independents should release costings: PM Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

September 01, 2010

(KATAKAMI / SMH.COM.AU)  —  Prime Minister Julia Gillard will ask independents Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott to release Labor’s and the coalition’s policy costings publicly.

Ms Gillard said the three MPs were being briefed by Treasury and the finance department on the government’s and opposition’s policy costings as she spoke on Wednesday.

“At the end of those briefings, it is my intention to ask the independents if the costings of government policies prepared at their request … can be released publicly,” she told reporters in Canberra.

“We want to be transparent, we believe those costings should be released publicly.”

Ms Gillard called on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to allow the public to see the coalition’s policy costings too.

The prime minister also welcomed the deal she signed earlier with the Australian Greens, which secures their support for a Labor minority government.

“I think the fact that we were able to reach that agreement shows that we have worked in good faith and held good discussions,” she said.

In negotiating changes to the caretaker conventions that allowed the independents to have their Treasury briefings, Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott’s chief-of-staff had reserved the right for the opposition to have later briefings itself.

The opposition would get costings support, “should the opposition require additional or revised policies based on negotiations with the independents”, she said.

“Whatever Mr Abbott has said today in this correspondence is recognising the reality of the circumstances after the election,” she said.

Ms Gillard said Labor was not in coalition with the Greens.

“Mr (Adam) Bandt in the House of Representatives and the Greens in the Senate will make up their mind on propositions before the parliament,” she said.

“(They will) vote in accordance with their party’s policies, their conscience, what Mr Bandt considers to be in the best interests of his electorate.”

Ms Gillard said she hoped to secure written agreements of support from Mr Katter, Mr Windsor, Mr Oakeshott and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie and WA Nationals MP Tony Crook.

“Agreements in writing are important to transparency and they are important to certainty,” she said.

“So it is my intention to seek further agreements in writing.”

Ms Gillard on Tuesday said she gave the rural independents a paper outlining Labor’s proposed parliamentary reforms.

The prime minister didn’t intend for it to be released publicly but said the MPs could do so if they wished.

“We didn’t in that process indicate to them that it was our intention to release it publicly,” she said.

“I’m happy for it to be but we did give it to them for their own uses and own purposes.”

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