Media, minority government, politics and policy
Minority Government: The Liberal Green Experience in Tasmania (Australasian Study of Parliament Group 2012) is a a provocative book which suggests that the Liberal Party in Tasmania can work well in minority government when supported by the Greens. Indeed such government can be dynamic, cooperative and reformist, as well as subject to the greater uncertainty and more intense politics that accompanies minority government. The book includes a number of case studies which demonstrate both the policy productivity and economic stringency of the green supported Rundle Liberal minority government (1996-98). It finds that this was indeed a reformist government, with major impact across very many policy portfolios, operating in the most difficult of political circumstances which ultimately led to its downfall. It is a critical study of the conservative Tasmanian Liberal Party attempting to govern with the support of their ideological opponents the Tasmanian Greens.
Between 1989, when five Green independents were elected to the House of Assembly, and 1998, Tasmania experienced two three~year periods of minority government during which the Greens held the balance of power. The purpose of this chapter is to look at the media's treatment of the most recent of these periods, 1996 to 1998, when government was in the hands of the Liberal Party under Tony Rundle and the Greens were in an informal, co~operative relationship with the Liberals. The particular focus of the chapter is the nature of the relationship between journalists and politicians in the context of Tasmania and from the perspective of the key politicians. The intent is not to provide a balanced view, but rather to provide an insight from the point of view of the politicians involved.