The balance of power in Tasmania’s parliament has taken a turn, with former Labor MP Madeleine Ogilvie deciding to return as an independent and not rejoin her old party.
Ogilvie sat in parliament for the first time on Thursday after earlier in the week winning a recount for the Hobart electorate of Clark triggered by the retirement of Labor’s Scott Bacon.
She had represented the Labor opposition party in the lower house for four years but lost her seat at the 2018 state election and subsequently quit the ALP.
“Maybe this is moment in time where I get to make a once-in-a-lifetime contribution to Tassie,” she said.
Ogilvie was a member of Labor’s right-wing faction and has previously clashed with the party’s majority left-wing for her objection to legalising euthanasia and same-sex marriage.
She had held recent talks with Labor leader Rebecca White about a return to the party but decided against it.
“I always said that it was for Madeleine to decide whether to rejoin the Labor Party,” White said in a statement.
“I respect Madeleine’s decision to sit as an independent and I look forward to working with her in the parliament.”
Ogilvie’s decision could give the Liberal government a helping hand in the 25-seat House of Assembly.
Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey, who has been seen to vote in step with Labor and the Greens, did hold the casting vote, including controversial laws to make gender optional on birth certificates.
Ogilvie, who had an unsuccessful tilt at the upper house this year, may be more inclined than independent-minded Hickey to vote along Liberal lines.
She intends to “speak freely.”
“The feedback that I’ve had from the people of Clark and Tasmania is that’s what they want—a big contest of ideas for better or worse,” she said.
“Maybe (parliament) does need somebody who can work across both sides.”
The Liberals hold 13 seats and Labor nine.