McKim wants more than backbench spots

GREENS leader and dumped cabinet minister Nick McKim is fighting to hang onto the status he has enjoyed during the past four years as part of a minority government, in the lead-up to an election where both major parties are determined to push him to the sidelines.

He is not ready to accept his party will be automatically relegated to the backbenches for at least the next term of government.

Considering the major parties' adamant declarations that they will do no deals with the minor party no matter what the result on March 15, Mr McKim's attitude seems blindly optimistic.

But he says past experience shows you can't take much notice of such anti-Greens statements.

"Before the 2010 election both Labor and Liberals said they would do no deals with the Greens and history shows that after the election they both tried to negotiate with the Greens," Mr McKim said.

Labor did it publicly and was ultimately successful, while it emerged last year that the Liberals had made some secret approaches.

The four-year Labor Green powersharing arrangement will certainly hurt Labor's re-election chances.

While Mr McKim won't go that far, he accepts the position forced him to make decisions traditional Greens voters may not have liked.

"I've never believed in keeping everybody happy because you end up standing for nothing," he said.

It's all part of preparing for Tasmania to one day be led by a Greens premier.

"If you believe that, as I do, you have to show that you're willing to take on responsibility, that you're willing to be part of a government that, like all governments, from time to time has to make difficult decisions and tough decisions that you know may not be popular but you make them because they're in the best long-term interests of Tasmania," Mr McKim said.

Not known for their economic credentials, Mr McKim is keen to stress their responsible fiscal management, promising to restrain the party's election commitments due to the state's worsening finances.

He points out that between himself and fellow former Greens minister Cassy O'Connor, they were responsible for managing almost half the state's $5 billion budget.

"We will stand on our record for the last four years to show that we can be responsible economic managers," he said.

The Greens will also paint themselves as the only party offering genuine change, highlighting the similarities between Labor and the Liberals such as their one-eyed support for the Tamar Valley pulp mill.

"The problem is that the myopic focus on a pulp mill by the old-style parties is actually scaring off potential investors who may otherwise be looking at and working out business plans to actually invest in Tasmania and create far more value and far more jobs from our plantation resource than you'd ever get from a pulp mill," Mr McKim said.

He likens the major parties to "gold-toothed salesmen" promising that all the state's problems will be solved by one big project.

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