Booth nicks top job

COMMENT: Desire to return to antagonistic politics hard to fathom

BASS MHA Kim Booth has taken over the leadership of the Tasmanian Greens in a shock move that is expected to realign the party with its more radical left. 

Mr Booth was elected unopposed yesterday during the first party room meeting since the Greens suffered an 8 per cent swing against them at the election. 

Two Greens lost their seats, reducing their numbers in Parliament to three.

Outgoing leader Nick McKim said he was willing to stay on, but did not nominate for the position after deciding he did not want an ugly contest to divide the three MPs.

University of Tasmania associate professor in politics Kate Crowley described the new leader as an ``explosively principled, fundamental Green''.

``I think making Kim Booth the leader shows the Greens going back to the base which they need to do to rebuild their vote after their catastrophic result,'' Dr Crowley said. 

Mr Booth's task has been made even harder by the new Liberal government's decision to reject the party's request for extra resources.

Kim Booth - video by Phillip Biggs

Within hours of his elevation to the job, the Premier's office advised Mr Booth that his only option would be to negotiate with Labor for a share of $800,000 allocated to non-government members. 

The Liberal and Labor parties predicted Mr Booth would take the Greens to the hard left.

``His elevation confirms the Greens' party does not represent the interests of mainstream Tasmanians,'' Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said. 

Opposition Leader Byran Green was surprised at the move. 

``Kim Booth is certainly a person that tends to take the Greens down a path that will have them marginalised,'' Mr Green said. 

Mr Booth had earlier questioned the need for the party to have a leader with only three MPs in the Parliament. 

Nick McKim - video by Phillip Biggs

``The party itself has decided that they wanted the party to have a leader title as such and, on the basis of that, I've put myself forward as a leader,'' Mr Booth said.

Mr Booth yesterday signalled the party needed to shift its focus more to the North.

``There is a big part of the Tasmanian economy that is generated beyond the Campbell Town line,'' Mr Booth said in Launceston.

There will be no deputy leader, a role previously filled by Tim Morris, who lost his seat in Lyons. Mr McKim committed to serving his full term and recontesting the next election in his electorate of Franklin.

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