The (Melbourne) AGE

Opposition questions Vic leadership 'circus'
July 27, 2007


Deputy Vic Premier John Thwaites also announced his resignation today.

The Victorian Opposition says questions need to be asked of Premier Steve Bracks and his deputy after they announced they would resign 10 months after they were elected to lead the state until 2010.

Deputy Premier and Water Minister John Thwaites this afternoon said he was not sure he had the desire to continue until the next election after Mr Bracks's shock resignation this morning.

"In those circumstances, I believe that a new leader would want a new deputy that would be in it for the long haul," he said.

Mr Bracks said he wanted to spend more time with his family and try new things.

Both men want Treasurer John Brumby to take over as premier when the caucus votes for a new leadership team on Monday.

But Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu says Victorian politics is starting to look like a circus.

"Just eight months ago, Victorians were invited to elect a Bracks and Thwaites government," he said.

"Questions now have to be asked what deals have been done, when and by whom."

Mr Bracks says he told Mr Thwaites and Mr Brumby almost a fortnight ago that he was considering standing down.

ALP state president Bill Shorten says he only found out about the resignation this morning, while federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd says he tried to convince the Premier to stay on.

Mr Bracks's Liberal predecessor, Jeff Kennett, says it is too early to assess the Premier's legacy.

Mr Kennett's government was defeated by Mr Bracks in what was considered a shock result in 1999.

The former premier says Mr Bracks's contribution to Victoria must be seen in a historical context.

"He inherited good times - he inherited coffers that were very, very full," he said.

"The question is whether he has used that inheritance with his colleagues to grow upon that which he inherited."

But Mr Kennett says he has a quiet respect for Mr Brumby, despite not always agreeing with his views.

He says the Treasurer would bring different qualities to the position of premier than Mr Bracks.

"John Brumby, without a doubt, has been the key to this Government," he said.

"Steve has been the Premier and the frontman but without John Brumby, this Government would have fallen a long time ago."


Queensland Premier Peter Beattie says Mr Bracks's departure leaves a big hole in Australian politics.

Mr Beattie says he knows how hard political life can be on family.

"A lot of leaders, including Steve, have got young kids and it's tough, it is very difficult," he said.

"But you do it because you love it, you do it because you've got a vision, you do it because you've got a passion and Steve Bracks certainly had that."

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon has also paid tribute to Mr Bracks as an outstanding Australian political leader.

Mr Lennon says he counts him as a friend and will miss his support.

He says Mr Bracks has made a powerful contribution to the national political debate and leaves Victoria a strong and vibrant state.

Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) chief executive officer Neil Coulsen has praised Mr Bracks for forging a successful relationship with the business community.

"He's certainly always been approachable and in our view, he's governed with a view to the wider economy and I think sought to balance the economic as well as the environmental and social demands," he said.

Meanwhile, Environment Victoria chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy says Mr Thwaites has left a lasting legacy, including increased water flows in the state's rivers, even though she has not always agreed with the Victorian Government.

"I think John Thwaites in particular has been an excellent ambassador for the environment and I guess we're hoping that continues and that that legacy lives on and that the framework that they have set up is actually delivered by the new government," she said.


An enlightening update

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