Australian PM calls for truce with rivals
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Last Updated: Sunday, September 19, 2010, 15:19
  
Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged the conservatives not to bring down her fragile government as the key Greens party on Sunday called for a tougher mining tax and an end to the euthanasia ban.

Gillard failed to win an outright majority at August 21 polls but scraped into office by brokering the support of three rural independents and a Greens MP, leaving her with a shaky rule.

Her once deeply unpopular rival Tony Abbott managed a spectacular comeback which almost saw him snatch power, and he has threatened to attack her fragile coalition, which he claims has no mandate to govern.

The Welsh-born former lawyer took aim at Abbott in her first major speech since the election, calling for him to "set aside short term partisanship in pursuit of long-term progress".

"The Parliament has not yet even met, but Mr Abbott has already spoken of how he wants to bring the government down," Gillard said on Saturday night in an address to members of her ruling Labor party.

"It's understandable that members on all sides may see political opportunity in that kind of approach, and I appreciate it's a strong temptation for a leader of the opposition who came so closely to victory.”

"But I think there'll be a lot of disappointment in our community if that easy option is taken," she added.

Instead of resigning themselves to deadlock Gillard said lawmakers should seize the cliffhanger result as an opportunity, adding that it was "not a time for inaction, for filibustering or obstructing progress”.

The Prime Minister's warning came as the powerbroking Greens party said it would push for a proposed 30 percent tax on mining profits to be bumped up to 40 percent, though it would support the levy in its current form.

Greens leader Bob Brown also said overturning a national ban on euthanasia would be his first priority.

Australia's Northern Territory introduced the world's first voluntary euthanasia legislation in 1995 but it was overturned by the national government and euthanasia remains a crime in the country.

"My bill would restore the right of Territory parliaments to pass laws that would allow terminally ill people to choose a death with dignity," said Brown.

"A huge majority of Australians support voluntary euthanasia and it is time for federal Parliament to openly debate the issue."

The eco-minded Greens, a left-wing minority party, won their first lower house seat on August 21 and Gillard will need the support of MP Adam Bandt to pass any legislation.

From June next year, the Greens will also hold the balance of power in the upper house. Parliament begins on September 28.

Bureau Report


First Published: Sunday, September 19, 2010, 15:19


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