By James Vassilopoulos
"My heart was saying kick her out. My head was asking, 'Are the matters raised sufficient to justify a genuine lack of confidence in the chief minister?'". With these words, right-wing independent and Liberal fellow-traveller, Dave Rugendyke, voted in favour of allowing the ACT's chief minister, Kate Carnell, to keep her job.
On June 30, Carnell faced a no-confidence motion over her handling of the funding of an upgrade to Bruce Stadium. The Liberal government spent $27 million of taxpayers' money without the approval of the Legislative Assembly, contravening the Financial Management Act.
Carnell's popularity has plummeted to its lowest level since she was elected in 1994. A poll published in the Canberra Times on June 29 found that her approval rating had declined to 42%. It also found that 50% of those surveyed thought Carnell should be forced to resign.
The ACT Legislative Assembly voted to censure Carnell. Rugendyke and ex-Canberra Raiders footballer Paul Osborne — elected on a "law and order" platform — hypocritically supported a government which had broken the law.
Sue Bull from the Democratic Socialist Party told Green Left Weekly: "The law and order push by Osborne and Rugendyke only extends to the poor, the homeless and Aboriginal people, not to Liberal governments. If a working person accidentally breaks the law they can nevertheless be charged. Carnell is lucky enough to be part of an elite that is above the law."
Carnell is not out of trouble yet. Both Rugendyke and Osborne have stated they may vote against Carnell after auditor-general John Parkinson completes his investigation in September or October.
The Democratic Socialist Party is continuing to gather signatures on a petition that demands that Carnell and the Liberals resign from government. People have been signing the petition in droves since the no-confidence motion was lost. Copies of the petition can be obtained by phoning 6247 2424.