Last Friday saw the shock resignation of the Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, Steve Bracks which was quickly followed by the resignation of his deputy John Thwaites. The standarad stuff of political scandal...but not this time. Steve Bracks resigned on top, having led his party to a decisive electoral victory only eight months previously . As a result the resignations came as a total shock.
This wont mean much to most people. Australian state Premiers don't register much outside, well their state, let alone outside Australia. But it means quite a lot to me because I was a candidate for the Australian Labor Party under Steve Bracks' at the first election he won in 1999. Prior to that I was the executive director of Liberty Victoria and among other things, campaigned with Steve, who was then the Shadow Treasurer, for the restoration of the powers of the state's Auditor General, whose office had been emasculated under the then conservative government.
Needless to say I didn't win my seat. But Steve did and he went on to lead the state, and I'm delighted to say, made good on the democratic rhetoric he employed in opposition and entrenched the independence of a range of office holders in the Victorian constitution, including that of the Auditor General.
He did quite a few other things that have enhanced Victoria's democratic insitutions, including reforming the states upper house through the introduction of proportional representation. I pay tribute to what Steve in respect of democracy in an article which was published today on newmatilda.com, one of Australia's only independent news and opinion websites.