Greens fringe dwellers

Greens“The Greens vote is complex”, writes Douglas Evans in this analysis of not only where their votes come from, but likely to be found in the future.

A recent AIMN article by Sir Scotch Mistery included the following quote:

Some vote Green, but the vote is meaningless we are told, even though almost 12% of the population vote for them. Why is the 12% so meaningless? Labor gets into bed with Bob Brown and others with ethics and vision, and are immediately held up as some sort of traitors. But no one, even Antony Greene, of the ABC, can explain why that vote is wasted.

This struck some resonances with me and prompted a comment in response to the article that became the basis for this article. As a fringe dweller, more an observer than a participant, I’ve got a few (shamelessly partisan) thoughts about the Greens. My former Federal MP Lindsay Tanner apparently agreed with the ‘experts’ Sir Scotch refers to. Tanner liked to say that voting for the Greens was just “shouting from the sidelines”. Of course that was just before the shouting got a little louder in 2010 and his Labor successor in the prized ALP Seat of Melbourne was defeated by Adam Bandt. In 2013 of course the shouting became positively deafening when Bandt repeated this feat without the aid of Liberal preferences.

The most recent Age-Nielsen Poll has the Greens on 17% nationally (up 5%) mostly apparently (and counter-intuitively) on the back of disaffected L-NP voters. In WA apparently the Greens lead Labor in the polls 27% to 20% currently and over the weekend with Labor still engaged in its own life and death struggle to reform itself, Christine Milne called for reform of the Greens constitution to give more power to members in formulating policy. This in a party that (in Victoria at least) already formally and regularly, as a matter of course, invites the participation of members in policy formulation.

After the decline in the Greens vote experienced in the 2013 and yet another tiresome round of finger wagging predictions of the end of the ‘accursed Greens’ both in the MSM and online, Scott Ludlam’s re-election in the WA Senate rerun and a bit of good news in the polls is welcome to an ageing Green like me. But just as the doomsayers are continually wrong with their predictions of the end for the Greens so the cheerleaders hoping for the triumphant rise of Australia’s social democrats would be wise to take a deep breath.

Despite these positive signs it would not be sensible to get too optimistic. No-one should assume, either that the the size of their vote will correspond closely with the number of seats they win, or that their vote will continue to grow steadily. It is a striking illustration of how uneven the Australian political playing field is that around 10% of the primary vote delivers a single lower house seat (out of 150) to the Greens while 4.29% of the primary vote delivers nine seats to the Nationals.

The Greens have experienced such swings in the polls in the past only to fall back to what appears to be the baseline 10% of the primary vote. Nevertheless, The Greens vote is complex. People vote Greens for all sorts of reasons. Many find a policy agenda that prioritizes environmental responsibility, social justice and compassion attractive. Some ageing social democrats like me, who believe this is what the Labor Party should stand for but increasingly doesn’t, are encouraged to find it is still possible to vote for a party that reflects these principles and is not simply the least-worst option. Many find it energizing and refreshing to be around an organization with a positive agenda that still, in the face of darkening times, has faith in the possibilities of the future and the potential for positive change rather than offering up continually reheated versions of the same-old same-old that has failed us in the past. The irreducible core of the Greens vote, about 10% of the electorate seems (to me) to be firmly based on these factors.

Then there is a soft vote that will come and go. Some whose natural habitat is either the steamy L-NP swamp or the scorching ALP desert have found themselves so disturbed by individual policies on, for example asylum seekers or climate change that they have moved to the Greens at least temporarily.

Some have voted for the Greens simply because they are not either of the two old parties that so many Australians are so very tired of. A large chunk of this group (which is politically pretty disengaged) is fundamentally conservative. These deserted the Greens in the last election when Palmer showed up on the horizon offering them a conservative alternative to the L-NP. Others (who are basically Liberal ‘wets’) close their eyes tight and vote for the Greens because they profoundly disapprove of what Abbott and his bunch of goons are doing to their Party and they can’t bring themselves to vote for Labor – the old enemy.

Others have voted for the Greens because they have seen them as the new-on-the-block-little-guys sticking it up the tired old tweedle dum and tweedle dee parties in Canberra. For these people the sight of the Greens actually wielding some power both in Canberra and Tasmania (Oh no they are a political party after all!) was disturbing and at the last election these voters deserted for The Pirates, the Animal Liberation Party, the Sex Party etc.

The breakdown of the most recent Age-Nielsen Poll is informative. While about a quarter of Australians between the age of 18 and 39 suggest they will vote Greens, the percentage of older Australians who would do so falls away strongly until apparently only about 10% of the oldest cohort (55+) votes for the Greens.

By contrast Labor scores around a third of the vote across all four age groups. The L-NP coalition captures about a third of the vote from the two youngest age groups but this increases until about a half of the oldest age group say they would vote for the mad monk and his band of merry pranksters. If this breakdown were to be maintained for a decade or so natural attrition would see the Greens steadily increase their vote to somewhere north of 20% Labor marking time in the mid 30s and the Coalition falling back to Labor.

The Nielsen poll is consistent with research for the Whitlam Institute carried out in 2011 by Dr Ron Brooker which examined the voting intentions of young voters (18 – 34 age group) prior to a series of Federal elections from 1998 to 2010. This showed the following:

  • Those intending to vote for the ‘old’ parties declined by about 10%, from somewhere north of 40% in 1998 to around 35% in 2010.
  • Those intending to vote for the Greens increased by about 18%, from around 5% in 1998 to roughly 23% in 2010.

The study shows that young voters are the natural core of support for the Greens and perhaps the vehicle for expanding the vote. It notes the substantial, possibly determinative, impact’ of the youth vote ‘on the outcomes of the 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 Federal elections.’ However it also notes the volatile nature of the youth vote as reflected in dramatic swings both to and from the Greens over the whole period.

The study argues that the electoral volatility of young Australians reflects that they ‘are strongly values driven and their attachment is to issues rather than traditional political organization.’ They ‘tend to … make decisions based on whose proposal or offer best fits their values on their issue of priority at a given time.’

The youth vote is electorally powerful but volatile. However it is also increasingly disillusioned with the political process. Half a million of them did not register to vote in 2013 and many more of them are presumably among the roughly 3% of Australians who deliberately voted ‘informal’. The rewards are rich for the political party that captures the attention and support of this group, particularly those currently opting out. The conservatives, in government, are focused on the establishment of ‘Australia Inc.’ for the benefit of their backers. Factions permitting, Labor in opposition might finally seriously begin to address its own deep structural and spiritual malaise. With the attention of the ‘old’ parties focused elsewhere and support for both falling among young voters anyway, neither are likely to make headway growing their support among this group. Both Scott Ludlam’s and Adam Bandt’s re-election campaigns bore strong similarity to independent Kathy McGowan’s successful community based campaign to unseat the unspeakable Sophie Mirabella in the Victorian rural seat of Indi. Taken together with the steady flow of emailed invitations from Adam Bandt’s office inviting participation in issues-based door-knocking and letter-boxing campaigns this suggests to me that the Greens’ approach to consolidating and strengthening their vote aligns precisely with what is most likely to attract the crucial youth vote.

I assume that as the crisis deepens (as it surely will) and both L-NP and ALP show themselves to have no remedies (as I expect to happen) support for the Greens will grow. I believe this will occur not only because of the revealed shortcomings of the ‘old’ parties but also because of the perceived strengths of the Greens. In a piece for Fairfax media discussing the current good news for the Greens Michael Gordon notes that they are being rewarded for not wavering in their policies and priorities.’ I think this is self-evident but this, of course is also the characteristic that marked the Greens as ‘unfit for government’ in the minds of granite brained, finger wagging, conservative political pundits and desperate Labor politicians in the dying days of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd soap opera.

However for Greens’ ‘policies and priorities’ to have any effect will mean coalition of some sort with Labor. For this to happen a number of things must change. Labor will have to realize that a Labor primary vote in the mid 30s and a Greens vote in the mid teens (eminently possible in the current climate) might just translate into some sort of progressive coalition government but in the absence of this would probably deliver power narrowly to the coalition.

Labor cannot simply assume that they can continue to disparage their progressive potential allies and float into power in their own right on a raft of Greens preferences. Those days are probably gone. Nor can they assume that they can get their primary vote back up into the 40s from where they might just achieve power in their own right. The breakdown of the Nielsen poll discussed above and the decades long decline in their primary vote to its current position in the mid 30s both suggest that ALP governing in its own right is increasingly unlikely.

They should get busy exploring the possibilities for co-operation and get used to the idea of shared power as an acceptable Plan B. Brad Orgill argued this in his eminently logical but (to me at least) hopelessly politically naïve book ‘Why Labor Should savour its Greens’. They should start exploring the possibilities for re-educating the Australian public who have been conditioned to believe that coalition with the Greens equates to a communist takeover or a pact with the devil. The Greens for their part must learn the hard political lessons of a couple of stints in power in Tasmania and the part they played in the Rudd-Gillard Federal era all of which ended in tears and recriminations.

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Categories: Politics

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49 replies

  1. The article is some years too late.

    I constantly wonder at Labor’s timid flight to the right since the mid nineties, after it initially found the Greens viewpoint compatible to its own in many ways.. the gerrymandering of Tasmania, into bed with the forestry companies, the despicable turning out for Howard against Latham a decade ago, the Democrats then the Greens represented as “unrepresentative swill”.

    I think the real rupture came more recently, with the conflict over the eternally vexed and irresolvable asylum seeker issue. The Greens moved from being an ecology/ economics based grouping, with a nationalistic/national project flavor that appealed to many voters, but it discovered that, in parliament, it also had to address and support or reject certain types of social and economic policy. In its situation, it was able to take on and voice the “normative” approach, almost to the point of open borders according to its rivals, but this approach spooked many less educated voters in thrall to tabloid msm.

    It had to weigh up the immediacy of the refugee plight, life and death, against the fear and resistance to helping these that pushing too hard with the edgy lumpenproletariat would create, given that no one had any plan of how the thing would be handled if humanitarian goals were to be achieved ( the politicians found a way around objections to quick population growth during high unemployment times with 457 visas, which could have gone to refugees, except that that issue had already been hopelessly politicised by tabloid media and politics as an issue to do with “threat” and “border security”: once Rupert told ’em, they knew that all mossie refugees carried bombs under their burquas.

    But the underlying true factor is more to do with globalisation and the loss of local and national prerogatives to powerful outside interests in an age of de-industrialisation and de-unionisation, when old safeguards have been discarded for the bum’s rush of market economics as proposed by big business.
    People are more insecure than ever.

    Labor was always prepared to make so called “reform” a bit more humane than a “labour disciplining” hard right policy, but it failed to explain the context of “change” honestly enough to the public because it was split by the internal battle between market zealots and “true”labor that has raged for a generation.
    Besides, many higher up in the ALP found it more convenient to embrace “reform”, when it came with “sweeteners” from big business, delivered quietly and discretely.

    It ceded control of the term, “reform” to the right, eventually the Abbott government was put in on a con and we now reap the consequences, because Labor is now too wedded to pragmatism and expediency and the Greens, naive idealism.
    On such as this, does democracy fall.
    There is no point having a monopoly on imagination, rationality and humanity if you are closed out of a process whereby constructive change can occur..the vested interests here and off shore have been just too strong for rational empathic politics.

  2. It occurred to me while reading this article that I didn’t really bother looking at the Greens costings for their policies while I went to great length to look at Labor’s and to try and find the Coalition’s. I am disappointed with myself for showing the same mentality as big business – Greens won’t form government. The Greens have indeed stuck to their guns on policy in the face of criticism. My heart applauds their idealism but a cynical voice in my head says that nobody tries to corrupt them precisely because they won’t form government.

    I am becoming increasingly disillusioned by party politics. It has corrupted the democratic process in so many ways from preselection through to legislation. It has shown itself open to manipulation – don’t piss off the miners. It disenfranchises MPs who will be told how to vote. It has effectively reduced voting on any issue to two votes, or one if the ruling party has a large majority. If there were no parties and we just had the best people for the job, or if the executive government was formed by a coalition of all parties representative of the total vote, what could Rupert do? What could Gina do?

    In the absence of total reform (and let’s face it, the big parties won’t give up their stranglehold willingly), I see a Coalition of Labor and the Greens as the most promising alternative. The Greens are like the Research and Development department as well as the Integrity department, while Labor are the accounts and engineering departments. They could complement each other well if they could learn how to work together.

    I agree wholeheartedly about the importance of the youth vote. Many did not bother registering for the last election where analysis has shown that 33,000 votes in crucial seats would have led to a different government. We must listen to them about their concerns, we must educate them about the issues that will affect their future, but most importantly, we must convince them that they can indeed make a difference, that they can have a say, and that their vote is important.

  3. In the last election, the Coalition of four parties (LIB/LNP/NAT/CLP) received 45.5% of the primary vote but this translated to 60% of the HoR seats – 90 out of 150. With such a large majority, the outcome of any vote is a fait accompli which means that 54.5% of voters are completely unrepresented.

  4. Kaye Lee.
    I assume you are aware that the article re the 33,000 voters to change Government draws some pretty long bows, and the likelihood unrealistic.
    Some of these seats have been deemed as safe LNP seats for decades and would need in some cases almost 4000 to change their mind, and on 2PP, switch from LNP to Labor any unlikely proposition
    As for your figures above, we do vote in electorates, not nationally.
    In those 150 electorates they only need to get 50% +1 vote, after preferences, which come from the 54.5% you quote.
    It is not like it’s some conspiracy.
    Anyone can go to the AEC site, chose their Electorate and view all Candidates and the way preferences were allocated.
    “45.5% of the primary vote but this translated to 60% of the HoR seats”
    All legal and above board.
    You went on primary votes, not the complete vote after preferences

  5. nurses1968,

    I am fully aware of how the electoral system works, Nothing you have said changes the fact that we are now living in a situation where the majority of voters have no say. It is not illegal, it is immoral. Tony Abbott has a green light to pursue his corporate greed agenda.

  6. The Greens need to reflect on the damage they have done to our role in reducing carbon emissions in this country.

    Arguably, the Greens by twice rejecting the Rudd governments’ Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), have created the situation that we now have where we are about to abandon carbon pricing and the transition to an emissions trading scheme. In its place we have a vague unconvincing ‘direct action plan’ that probably won’t be effective and will almost certainly cost a lot more money if it ever proceeds.

  7. First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win…………

    One more step……

  8. Try to avoid long post but feel this one is necessary.

    After reading the posts over the last few days I have come to the conclusion that our only recourse is to be strong on social issues and hold the ship steady. I voted Green for the first time in the last election and though I have lived an alternate lifestyle and am a progressive in all areas I was a worker at heart. I, like many, felt trapped in a vice of almost universal acceptance of an empirically unproven economic rationalist paradigm that is now almost universally accepted by LNP and Labor. Labor left me I did not leave Labor. It is a sad state of affairs because my version of the Labor party was of a workers party which includes anyone lower middle or upper class who toil to make ends meet. It was also a party of strong ethical principles when it comes to human rights and it has failed me miserably. I really think that Labor should be ashamed of itself for selling out the very values that make us decent human beings. During my protest days I was not impressed by the backward looking Arcadian dream of a utopian rural Greens bereft of creative alternatives shaped by modernism and technology. It’s the same type of wishful backward referral that the LNP espouse. However Scott Ludlum changed my mind and It will now take a strong shift by Labor before I return. Morality is morality and comprise is not an option.

    Kaye I share your disillusionment and I think your above post is very honest and forthright. I would like to think that many of the ideas proposed recently would have an impact however this is global issue of epic proportions and what I see coming out of the US, UK, Germany and other complicit nations is a polity of incredible greed and inequality and the continual ownership and exploitation of the means of production. Corptocracy has certainly taken over democracy in the first world as the middle nations struggle to, often unwittingly and unknowingly, join the oligarchic capitalist club.

    Historically revolutions are no solution because the type of corruption that breeds inequality and injustice is not class specific. It is a human trait that many at all levels of society share the propensity for. That is why I propose a hard headed national and international scientific advisory board that looks for innovative engineering and technical solutions to inequality and environmental degradation. Obama literally lied his way to power on the back of a disillusioned public only to have been a member of the economic rationalist Wall Street Club. Recently he comes out proposing lying is supported by the first amendment which actually runs against the legislative goals of democracy and law in framing standards that citizens should meet in a civil society. Paradox, irrationality and hypocrisy are legion in the framing of a completely ineffectual constitution. If it was effective we would not be in the state of affairs that exist now. The very same argument goes for Australia. In short the underlying principles of democracy based in free speech are fallacious. So called freedom and free will are dog bones hung out on the end of a fishing line controlled by the elites to meet their selfish ends. Wake up people you are being taken for a ride.

    We need a philosophy of science that does not demean religion yet holds magical and mythical thinking and prejudice under the fire of factual evidentiary observation. It must leave the door open for people to find a sense of hope, mystery, awe and wonder in the fabric of an awe-inspiring universe that provides a basis for abstract thinking and conceptual creativity. Whether creative and forward looking or traditionally ideologically based people need a sense of subjective purpose while rationally agreeing to maintaining and sustaining a causally consistent material world. Failure to do so will just be more of the same. Currently we are facing the propensity for some seriously destructive cultural wars.

    I do not claim to have a magical solution. However unless we can get our factual foundations in order we are in big trouble.

  9. At the beginning of the 20th century, the two main parties in England were the Conservatives and the Liberals. But the Labour party was steadily gaining “market share” In the end, Labour replaced the Liberals as the main party. Also, the Conservatives were seen as the party of natural rule precisely because they /weren’t/ radical. In fact, the original meaning of conservative was caution about change. Of course, that put them on the wrong side of every reforming movement since the abolition of slavery …..

    But conservatives now have become radicals. They want to transform the system /radically/. And the left has become the party of pragmatism: does the policy work?; does it make sense?; will it make the world a better place? The right is wedded to “perfect markets” and “market forces” even though the evidence is piling up that free markets are not always beneficial. Of course, quite often they are: the free markets in shoes, say, or cafes is A Good Thing. The free market in financial products is not. The labour market clearly is dysfunctional everywhere, by definition. If it were not, it would “clear”, i.e., there would be no unemployment. And the favourite remedy of the Ayn Rand demented right would work. Cutting wages /would/ lead to full employment. But it does not. And that’s before we even start on monopolies and oligopolies (Murdoch papers; Coles and Woolworths; the major banks for example) Free markets are good /sometimes/ But very often they do not exist or they are not the best option.

    And that’s before we start on Piketty’s thesis that the return on and therefore the accumulation of capital is higher than the growth rate in GDP leading inexorably to ever worsening income and wealth distribution. See this book for a fuller discussion: http://www.amazon.com/Capital-Twenty-First-Century-Thomas-Piketty/dp/067443000X/ The logical consequences of his argument are clear: a wealth tax on the super rich is /essential/; government /should/ borrow to build infrastructure; income redistribution measures to the poorest should be /expanded/ not contracted; privatisation leads to /greater inequality/ (and prolly slower growth).

    What is needed is an intellectual rebuff of the “free markets are good”; “private enterprise is good”, “the rich are wonderful” simplistic view of the right. And what is /also/ needed is for Labor and the Greens to stop fighting each other. After all, the current government is not just the Libs. It is a Coalition. And, as an aside, because the Nats are altogether too complaisant, they end up getting shafted. Think of Baird’s proposal to privatise health. That’s going to be a disaster for country towns.

    The Left has a history of angry internecine fights. Time to set aside our differences to get rid of The Cane Toad and his loathsome buddies.

    For the record, I vote Green first and Labor second.

  10. Terry2
    The Greens have made mistakes but the rejection of Rudd’s disingenuous, environmentally useless CPRS was absolutely correct. Anyone who has bought the MSM-Labor bullshit about the Greens’ naive unwillingness to compromise and the possibility of incremental change once the package was in place is simply not across the fine print of that piece of bastardry. At that time I was completely across it. The truth, as opposed to the Labor propaganda, was that the proposal was so hemmed in with punitive penalty provisions that increasing the ambition and effectiveness of the legislation was impossible on any meaningful timescale. Don’t believe me. look up what economists John Quiggin, Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute, or Giles Parkinson had to say about this. Start here: http://johnquiggin.com/2009/02/19/economists-criticise-the-emissions-trading-plan/

    Labor’s ‘inconvenient truth’ was that Rudd and Wong were completely towelled up by the Greenhouse mafia who not only achieved in the CPRS a green light for their polluting paymasters but achieved a gigantic payout for them to continue to destroy our future. The outcome of the Greens’ refusal to accept the CPRS was the moderately environmentally useful Clean Energy package (all of the most useful bits included unwillingly by Labor at the insistence of the Greens plus Windsor and Oakeshott) that Abbott is now hell-bent on dismantling.

  11. nickthiwerspoon
    April 21, 2014 • 9:18 am

    Piketty’s thesis is truly masterly work that should be compulsive reading for progressives. There are a wealth of articles and discussions that reduce his work to manageable sound bites.

    A wealth tax on the super rich is absolutely necessary. Now you’re talking sense.

    As a great Australian source for understanding Modern Monetary Theory you can’t go past Bill Williams.

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/

    The truth is we are being sold lies and misinformation through complexity and obfuscation of a dystopian media. The facts must be put into ordinary language and disseminated wherever possible.

    One thing for sure economics is not a science while it is imbued with so much ideological crap. It is an area where our moral sense should preempt theoretical modelling. Adam Smith, after all, was a moral philosopher with a strong sense of equity. “On Moral Sentiments”

    The fact that the oligarchs have so completely undermined our moral sense of Justice indicates critical thinking is failing us.

    Piketty and Bill Williams offer the Greens a framework for critical analysis that could be the basis for a revised economic model not beholden to traditional control and manipulation. However a statement of moral responsibility must come first.

    Picketty’s wealth transfer and Williams argument for fiscal stimulus set the grounds for a rational challenge to entrenched oligarchy and economic rationalist fundamentalism.

  12. The issue for the Greens to achieve true representation is how to overcome a political system that is biased against any party that is not of the duopoly. No matter how hard they try, the two major parties are able to direct the flow of their preferences away form the Greens to effectively knobble them.

    The greens are also undermined at every stage by the two majors, their established power, their money and their influence in framing every discussion around the Greens being “extremists”, when the truth is, their policies are more moderate that either Liberal or Labor, it is just nobody actually reads them and the Greens are constantly denied an opportunity to express them.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve had average punters throw comments at me like; “Ha, the Greens did so well in running Tasmania into the ground”, or during last year’s bush fires; “It’s those Greens who stop back-burning”, or the usual “Why can’t the Greens focus on big issues instead of fringe concerns like refugees or gay marriage”.

    Even when presented with the facts “Forestry management in Tasmania accounts for around 3% of the workforce:, or “No, the Greens fully support the science based approach to back-burning as their policy has said for years”, or “The Greens have always stood firmest on the biggest issue of our age – Climate Change and they believe in protecting or shared environment and and human rights, equality and equity for all, rather that just handing our tax dollars to the miners, bankers and the ultra wealthy”.

    Of course, I am well aware that many people, even when presented with facts will simply withdraw and defend rather than recognise, assess and reconsider their opinions. They don’t want facts, they only want to hear messages that support their ideological viewpoint – a perspective constantly reinforced by the two major parties in conjunction with an ineffectual and unquestioning media.

    As I’ve said in previous posts, I was a born and bred Labor man, but seeing them merge into a facsimile of the Liberals and watching them abandon their heartland and their has broken my heart. Seeing them become mere puppets to the corporations and the uber-wealthy, sickens me and fills me with contempt.

    The Greens may be idealists, they may be dreamers, some of the things they stand for will never be achievable. But I firmly believe the world needs dreamers, those willing to stand firm to their principles and ethics, people who express the ideals of a world beyond the raw accumulation or wealth. Because without people like this, the world is a hard, sharp and brutal place, devoid of compassion and humanity. And I for one refuse to live in a world like that, not if through my own small effort I was work to change it.

    I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

  13. Greens and ALP must form a coalition. We must stop being “sucked in” by the neocons. They laugh their asses off when we fight each other, because they win. And when they win, everyone loses.

  14. I would add to this, that as the economic and environmental impacts of the LNP government grow and become more easily viewed as destructive, and as Global Climate Change becomes more evident (and I believe it is accelerating) the Greens will be begin to be viewed by many, such as myself, as the only party with a moral vision for the future of this country and this planet.
    I have been a solid Labor voter all my life, the LNP has always been repugnant to me, but after September and the paralysis that has gripped Labor, after Shorten has been revealed as a hollow man with nothing to offer, the Greens have won me over. I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

  15. A Greens-Labor coalition is an idea that appeals to me greatly, but it can’t happen if Labor does not realise the monumental error of its drift to the right. Tony Abbott is not the enemy here. The enemy for the “Left” is Labor. Progressives must act and make a return to an emotional reinvestment in social democratic values their priority.

  16. Kaye Lee
    Your statement
    “Nothing you have said changes the fact that we are now living in a situation where the majority of voters have no say.”
    Is factually incorrect.
    15 million voters are eligible to vote.They ALL have their say.
    If they choose to vote for Independents, Minor Parties etc, with no hope of winning, their preferences are passed on to the Candidates they have chosen to preference.
    I no more like the result than you do, but that’s Democracy

  17. no nurses 1968. It is YOU who are completely incorrect. Winning an election does not give a party a mandate to do whatever the bloody hell they please until the next election. They are still answerable to the electorate. The unfortunate situation that gave Tony Abbott such a majority means that votes in the HoR are a total waste of time which means that the 54.5% of people who did NOT vote for the Coalition are not being represented in the decisions they are making.

  18. Susan speaks correctly.

  19. You make some compelling thoughts Douglas.

  20. “Winning an election does not give a party a mandate to do whatever the bloody hell they please until the next election.”
    Nowhere did I say that .
    If you re read what you wrote, and my responses, it was about voters and vote.
    Nothing to do with policy or politicians.
    you are trying to be a bit deceptive in your responses.
    “54.5% of people who did NOT vote for the Coalition are not being represented in the decisions they are making.”
    some of them obviously did, through preferences.
    I suggest you go visit the AEC site.
    I am totally opposed to Abbott and every breath he takes but this was not about that, rather your incorrect assumptions

  21. The enemy for the “Left” is Labor.

    There is a lot of truth in that.

  22. Thanks Douglas.

    Even Louise Pratt in an otherwise excellent resignation speech had a go at the Greens – for not siding with Labor on everything.

    (sorry cannot find transcript – CornLegend posted link but I cannot access due to paywall).

    The Greens will use Labor against the LNP and the LNP against Labor – this is politics. Both the LNP and Labor have united against the Greens in some elections. Therefore, this finger pointing is tiresome and does not achieve anything.

    SO too will the PUP prove fickle with whom it chooses to side – if anyone thinks they support PUP on some issues just picture Clive Palmer closing all his mines and offering to plant trees.

    Labor lost me many years ago – as it turned its back on the workers and then played little more than lip-service towards mitigating climate change – the 2013 election game of who can best whip the arses of refugees…. words fail at this political low-point in Australian politics.

  23. What needs to happen with our voting system is a simplification of preferences because at the moment they are far too complicated and convoluted.

    As it is now, the vast majority of people vote 1 above the line, because anything more is a chore and let’s face it, none of us like chores.

    But in doing so we are at the mercy of the party and how they choose to allocate their preferences, frequently based on dodgy deals with groups whose ideals we may stridently oppose.

    Our other alternative is to number every single box below the line, which some of us do, but it is tedious and cumbersome and a few simple mistakes renders your vote invalid. The process has been made worse in the senate where multiple micro-parties have determined a way to “game the system” to their best advantage.

    We also have parties whose names are remarkably similar, leading to confusion and votes frequently going against the voter’s intention. If I recall correctly one smaller party with the word “Liberal” in their name appeared in the prime position A on the ballot paper, this no doubt would have led to them securing a large number of votes they would otherwise not have received in a different position or with a different name.

    We need a way to streamline the whole voting process, so people know exactly who they are voting for and where their preferences will flow. We need a robust way for people to decide their preference flows, and prevent the gaming that seems to be growing. Above all, the ballot needs to be simple, clear and concise, so there is no confusion and the process can be easily managed by the voter and AEC staff.

  24. Anomander, Stephen Tardew, , Susan, Charybds, Mike Wilkinson
    I agree completely.

    Paul Walter
    Better late than never?

    mikestasse
    we can only hope

    nurses 1968
    How do you feel about an electoral system in which the vote you directed towards a party whose policies you approve of may well end up helping to elect a candidate from a party whose policies you completely disapprove of. This possibility is inherent to a system in which includes mandatory distribution of preferences.
    How do you feel about political parties (nominally in opposition) that feel free to collude in swapping ‘above the line’ votes to exclude other voices.
    It may be legal but I think it stinks.

    Kaye Lee
    Irrespective of the percentages involved I don’t think you can reasonably claim that voters who support parties that do not form governments are unrepresented. That their opinions and desires may be overlooked by the government of the day does not mean that there is no-one arguing for the other side of any issue. The government of the day has the right and duty to pursue the policies that resulted in it being elected. Unfortunately there are no sanctions that can be applied to prevent it altering position on any issue. Any opposition or cross bench politician has the right and duty to pursue those policies that his/her party took to the election. It is transparently self serving crap that a government (irrespective of the size of its majority) has a mandate to implement its program unhindered that somehow outweighs that of an opposition and cross benchers to prosecute opposing positions.

    That the political system is so thoroughly broken in Australia does not mean that it is everywhere. There are plenty of nations where it works just fine. Replacement of parties with independents as you seem to favour would only produce a magnified version of the chaos represented on the ballot paper for the WA Senate re-run.

    Dan Rowden
    Most difficult of all.
    I wrote: “Labor cannot simply assume that they can continue to disparage their progressive potential allies and float into power in their own right on a raft of Greens preferences. Those days are probably gone.”

    On reflection I don’t think that’s true. Labor probably can and probably will go on disparaging the Greens and double crossing them at election time (something of a Labor tradition this) for quite some time and irrespective of this, the flow of the majority of Greens preferences will probably continue to disguise the steady erosion of Labor’s position in the short term.

    Someone wrote (can’t remember who) that the ALP actually encompasses several parties. As far as I remember these was:
    Old Labor (jobs, jobs jobs – nothing matters but more jobs, especially for the members of my union)
    Social democratic Labor (still battling for equality of opportunity)
    both of which require a level of government intervention that is substantially in conflict with
    Economic rationalist Labor (those still singing from the Hawke/Keating neo-liberal free trade songbook).
    and finally
    Catholic conservative Labor (think fossil fuel Ferguson and David Feeney). Who knows what they stand for other than forelock tugging to the big end of town and hating everyone who is not one of them.

    These fissures are reflected in the weird schizophrenic contradictions in Labor policy (contrast Ferguson’s energy policies with Combet’s climate policies for example).

    The angry fossilized conservatism of most of these groups is self evident. This combined with Labor’s overweening sense of entitlement to power and the progressive vote causes me to think (on reflection) that Labor (far more interested in what to do to wrest power back rather than the well-being of Australians) will not in the short term countenance the possibility of coalition with the Greens.

  25. Diannaart
    Thanks we seem to agree also.

    Anomander second time
    Agree again.
    It’s probably not so difficult to de-bug the electoral system. I think I read somewhere that in NSW Upper House we already have optional distribution of preferences. Is that true? Even if so would either of the ‘old’ parties countenance broadening such a move if proposed. They have much to lose and nothing to gain (if we overlook the respect of the electorate). I’m sure the AEC could sort it if only tweedle dum and tweedle dee will allow it to happen. I suspect they would both (as history shows) seek to bolster their own positions at the expense of new voices.

    Probably equally unlikely that either tweedle dum or tweedle dee will countenance any meaningful democratization of their feudal internal procedures. This is not in their DNA.

  26. Doug,
    Like it or lump it, we have the voting system we’ve got .
    I suggest you read my comments , in context .
    “With such a large majority, the outcome of any vote is a fait accompli which means that 54.5% of voters are completely unrepresented.”
    What I pointed out was that 15 million had the right to vote, and choose for whom they vote.
    Now their first preference may not get up, but they do have the right to preference.
    they do have the right to follow a “ticket” how to vote like the Greens ticket for example, or they may choose to preference their own choices.
    My point was, if you voted for an Independent, of one of the minor Parties, you probably knew full well that they would not get elected.
    your preferences are then distributed to whom you have chosen.
    As you pointed out Adam Bandt relied on Liberal preferences first time around.
    Now I’m not saying the system we have is perfect, or that I necessarily support it, but until things change I am willing to accept it and accept the decision of the Australian people whether I like it or not.
    as to the “colluding to swap votes” the LNP, Labor and the Greens are involved in it,{preferencing} so can’t see anything changing anytime soon
    As for your first paragraph response.
    I never raised that or even mentioned it, just responding to some vague and deceptive previous comments

  27. “Know thy enemy and know yourself!”
    Neither party has a monopoly on ideas, morality or good intentions. The Greens must acknowledge Labor’s passionate delivery of social protections to Australians over generations and Labor must acknowledge The Green’s passionate focus on environmental protection in more recent times.

    Where is there room for argument now, when we face the most treacherous times both environmentally and socially? Greens and Labor now need to RECOGNISE THE COMMON ENEMY; acknowledge their own weaknesses, and join forces to use their collective strengths for the common good.

    The common ‘enemy’ is actually the…… untruth, dishonesty, corruption, fraud, lies, distortions, unfairness, bigotry, vilification, meanness, greed,….. that has swept into our Nation and manifests in the form of the Abbott led LNP government AND… which is being perpetrated, promoted and perpetuated by the main stream media.

    This infection is undermining the foundations of our society and costing us both financially and socially. It is within the power of Labor and The Greens to reverse the trend by uniting forces to take a strong stand and announce solid policy commitments to stamp out rorting, cheating, lying, deceiving in the political arena.

    Labor and Greens need a united, determined, unwavering plan to run the country with FAIRNESS and HONESTY as their main, cooperative platform – a touchstone against which all decisions are discussed and evaluated. They should begin NOW to formulate policies and notify the public on every possible occasion that there will be a concerted, collaborative ‘weeding out’ of cheats and unfair privileges and that there will be penalties for transgressors….. no “Minchin-type Protocols” to cover up fraud….. and there will be a restoration of fairness in the distribution of National Wealth for the National Wellbeing.

    How hard can it be for the many good people from both parties to come together, with enthusiasm and vision in this time of crisis; to stand firm against media onslaughts…. for the National good?

    “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
    If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
    If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu

  28. Doug

    Diannaart
    Thanks we seem to agree also

    You sound a little unsure about me – I have found I agree with you across the blog-web – well I can’t think of any areas where we have actually differed at all.

    I know I tend towards the flippant and ironic at times – which is not conducive to successful communication on pages such as these. 😦

    Given the LNP and Labor’s race to the murky depths continues unabated, I don’t see myself changing from voting Greens (and below the line) any time soon. I don’t always agree with everything the Greens do and say – however while they are pro human rights, environmental care and a more lateral approach to leadership, I will continue to support them.

  29. Diannaart
    Not at all unsure about you. I find your comments helpful and constructive – just couldn’t think of anything else to say.

    nurses 1968
    Don’t really think we have an argument here. I have read your comments and agree with them but you did say ‘I no more like the result than you do, but that’s Democracy’ (well of course it is our system but I’m not sure I would call it democracy) and ‘Like it or lump it, we have the voting system we’ve got.’ Well of course this is what happens, I was was just wondering what you thought about it. As to the Greens swapping preferences and Adam Bandt profiting first time from Liberal preferences so what? The Greens have proposed various legislative measures to limit the distortions of the field we are discussing. The ‘old’ parties won’t look at them. What do you think they should do? If you are in the game you play according to the existing rules (even as you try to change them) don’t you think?

    Joe Banks
    I like the way you think but is it going to happen any time soon?

  30. tanner was sadly a victim of ego, polling and political pension His decision not to stand cleared the way for brandt. The greens, deservedly, will not live down voting with the rabbott against the carbon price or silence their loony left women. Both the greens and labor have not the stomach for the effective abbuttian negative media attack despite the outstanding success of gillard’s misogyny and ludlum’s heartless and racist. We have a pm making decisions in the media, newman and now baird all ripe for a labor media campaign and they elect the rabbott’s mates shorten and bullock. As a pensioner, I suggest you over 40s move into trusts and learn the ‘dole’ rules asap

  31. The idea of a Greens/ALP coalition doesn’t appeal to me one bit. Why should the Greens belittle themselves like this? Especially now they are bound to become the major Left Party?

    I have never been represented in parliament, except right at the start of my voting career when I helped put Whitlam in. Why? Because the stupid preferential voting system MAKES YOU vote for people you don’t like or even despise…..

    What we need is representational proportional voting.

  32. Thanks Doug:

    It’s great to have a forum of informed people who willingly questions the status quo left and right. I owe my sanity to you and others who post insightful information and opinion. I learn heaps on this site from many informed and interesting people and thanks to all who contribute.

  33. The Greens Party should be dismantled.

  34. Doug,

    It’s funny that as a life-long Labor supporter and voter I have an instinctive emotional resistance to the idea of supporting the Greens. Yet, I recognise that resistance to be a mix of misplaced loyalty and simple egotistical attachment. I don’t consider the Greens to have sufficient policy and political maturity to attract my vote but I admit a strong temptation given the state of contemporary Labor. It’s clearly a feeling shared by a increasing number of “lefties” who feel disenfranchised by where the Labor Party is at the moment. That thought leads to a bit of a rant I really need to get out of the way:

    Have you noticed the obsession we have with Tony Abbott? “Obsession” is, of course, my characterisation of things but I strongly feel it’s accurate. I don’t believe Tony Abbott is the problem. Yes, he and the neo-con tribe are most certainly a problem, but not the problem. It’s hardly surprising that a neo-con behaves like a neo-con.

    The real problem isn’t even confined to politics, although politics exists as a driving force and catalyst for this: the problem is the broad cultural shift to the “right” that has occurred in Australia. We recognise the political dimension of that shift, particularly with respect to the Labor Party, but I’m not sure if we fully appreciate the nature of it in a more expansive cultural sense. The drift to a deeper socially conservative mindset has been happening since Howard. In my view it’s infiltrated every aspect of the Australian psyche.

    It’s what has made the utterly cruel policy environment regarding Asylum Seekers broadly acceptable to the electorate. It’s what caused Labor to lose, not just the political battle, but the ideological battle over the mining tax. It’s what has allowed the current Government to toss out all sorts of ideas to the electorate – such as reigning in welfare – without much of a whimper of dissent. It’s what has made the Environment a virtual non-issue for many people. It’s what enables the conservative-supporting elements of the media to ply their trade without concern or suspicion. It’s what enables arguments about economic realities (if real they even be) to outweigh notions of social reform (NDIS, Gonski etc). It’s what enabled Hansonite downward envy to gain political traction. It’s enabled the mentality of society being a product of economy, as opposed to the opposite, to take hold.

    The Left has lost its voice and, I think, its philosophical confidence in itself (by Left I basically mean Labor for these purposes. I know this will be annoying for Greens supporters but if I keep qualifying that phrase it’ll get more tedious than I’m probably already being).

    In her recent article about God knows what, Victoria said:

    Think about how many hard working, passionate, intelligent, talented and committed progressive politicians in the Labor Party

    I’d like her, or anyone, to name one – just one person who is promoting a social democrat ideology rather than merely engaging in policy-point politicking. The fact is, within and outside of politics, no-one is doing this. Where are the Leftist intellectuals who are politically engaged? Where are the contemporary equivalents of the now sadly senile and dodgy Bob Ellis and Philip Adams? The sad fact is that conservatives own Australian political discourse outside of parliament. I get that there are current forces making the vocalization of progressive ideas difficult, but I can’t help but wonder how hard we’re trying. But try we must if we’re to arrest the slide to a more conservative national mindset and political narrative.

    Labor’s “left” has to wake up. It has to develop some gumption and tell the “right” to shut its god-forsaken cake-hole and appreciate, fully, that its “right” has no capacity to take any argument, economic or social, to the conservatives. The Left has to start making the case for the rectitude and superiority of social democratic values. It has to make that case economically, culturally, intellectually and emotionally. Someone has to step up otherwise such values are in deep trouble, political party fortunes aside. Screwed if I can see who might do that but it’s imperative that we of the “left” start encouraging, or perhaps demanding, that someone who professes to be a voice for our worldview starts being vocal.

  35. Stephen
    Thanks for that
    Dan
    Thanks also but it’s been a big day (for us both I suspect) and I think I’ll let your comment rattle around in the empty space between my ears until tomorrow. Nighty night.

  36. Dan:

    I can only agree. The scary thing is this is the trend in almost all first world nations. UK, Canada, USA, Germany, France……… The left, or should I say progressives had been eviscerated. The power of wealth and corptocracy is running rampant and local politics seems to just be a side dish of the global main game. Trade agreements are handing legislative power over to corporations. I think that Piketty’s prediction of incredible inequality is playing out and the consequences are yet to be seen however some rebound is inevitable. When and how? That is the million dollar question. Don’t write off another financial collapse. Then the shit might really hit the fan.

  37. Stephen,

    Yes, there’s certainly a conservative trend reverberating through the industrialised world at present. It’s not that surprising, however. It’s a result of the GFC and the fear generated thereby, which continues. People almost invariably switch to a more conservative mindset when such things happen; when they become fearful of losing what they have (or actually begin losing it); when they become ever more protective of what they have. Humanitarian, egalitarian and other such instincts get shot to hell when that happens. God knows how long we’ll be stuck in the mire of that trend but I think It’ll be a little while yet.

  38. Dan

    You said
    “Have you noticed the obsession we have with Tony Abbott? “Obsession” is, of course, my characterisation of things but I strongly feel it’s accurate.”

    So do I. Abbott and his mob of miscreants and misfits are a manifestation of the darkening times. Of course we must see them clearly for what they are to understand where they might be taking us. This is a vital function of the ‘fifth estate’. But this is different from the endless ritual castigation of the villains du jour online. Participation in this ritual offers the ‘castigator’ cathartic release (There! That’ll show ’em!) and gives the (I think mistaken) impression that he/she is meaningfully acting to promote change. Both of these make the participant feel better so the attraction is clear. But more often than not what is happening is akin to a conversation between like minded souls huddled in a locked room with the curtains drawn against the cold and the dark outside – reassuring but nothing is changed. I was once a fairly active member of a little group of writers of letters to the editor on climate change related issues. As soon as someone noticed an article or issue that merited a letter the warning email would go around the group and the writers would get busy. We had a pretty good strike rate – especially in Fairfax papers and when someone got something published the congratulatory emails would follow. All well and good but eventually the penny dropped for me that this was at least as much to do with mutual reassurance as it was to do with capturing hearts and minds. Overwhelmingly the letters would be read by people who already knew and needed no convincing while those we might wish to engage simply didn’t read them. That is how we use the media especially online. If it reinforces our opinions we ‘like’ it. If it contradicts ’em we either don’t read it, ignore it or abuse the author. In my experience it is rare indeed for commenters to respond to rational reasoned arguments with more of the same. Not unknown, but rare – even on sites like this.

    You said
    “I don’t believe Tony Abbott is the problem. The real problem isn’t even confined to politics, although politics exists as a driving force and catalyst for this: the problem is the broad cultural shift to the “right” that has occurred in Australia.”

    I think you’re right. I’ve told this story before but as it fits I’ll tell it again.
    For a year, once a week for an hour or two I was part of a community picket of a State politician’s electoral office as part of an effort to get the Labor Party to strengthen its climate policies. Plenty of time to chat. On one of these occasions an activist mate commented to me that we start down this path thinking that what is needed is behavioral change so we change the light bulbs, insulate the house, buy a bike, put in the rain water tanks etc. Then we notice that nothing is changed and we realize that what is needed is political change so we lobby politicians, picket their offices, march, run how to vote campaigns etc. Then we notice that still nothing has changed and we realize that what is needed is cultural change………

    I haven’t been following as closely since I gave up writing about this stuff but I’m pretty sure the lurch to the right is happening throughout the first world. It is the inevitable reaction to the hard times that people are increasingly subject to as:
    1. the globalized economy drives growth in inequality of income, access to services and opportunity.
    2. the interlocking climate and wider environmental, food and resource crises bite into the possibilities for the continued economic growth that our prosperity depends on.

    Outside the first world of course it is worse. There they are already dying in their tens of thousands as the climate and resource screw turns. We’ll all get to that stage soon enough but here in Oz (and elsewhere in the first world) we aren’t there yet.

    People throughout the first world are so accustomed to the flow of material goodies that they think it is part of the natural order and that are entitled to their share of it all. The evidence is everywhere. Just listen to the topics of conversation at the adjoining tables in your favorite coffee shop. Around me it centres on the latest electronic bling, real estate prices, the next holiday in Europe etc. Everyone’s still ‘relaxed and comfortable’ despite the outrage they probably daily express online at sites like this. If I travel a couple of suburbs it’s all about the latest dirty landlord trick, the outrageous cost (and scarcity) of rented accommodation, the outrageous cost (and scarcity) of childcare and other necessary social services.The middle class has been gutted, the city is quietly splitting and the fissure is widening. People (outside the shrinking relaxed and comfortable enclaves) are beginning to look for someone to blame and they want simple answers. The age of the demagogue is coming and I think that wrt general nastiness we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Laura Tingle in her Quarterly Essay wrote (to my mind) a pretty good assessment of the particular qualities of the Australian manifestation of this ‘age of entitlement’. How long until we begin to see our own version of the consumerist riots and looting that occurred last year (or was it the year before) throughout England?

    You said
    “In her recent article about God knows what, Victoria said:”
    I avoid Victoria’s writing which generally makes me see red.

    You said
    “Labor’s “left” has to wake up.”
    Yep but when it does it will find that it has three choices:
    1. Knuckle under and shut up.
    2. Leave and form a new social democratic party
    3. Leave and join the Greens
    It will find that it has no possibility of wresting the ALP back from the forces of darkness. I predict Option 2 above in the medium term with a steady trickle of 3.

  39. Good piece. The conclusion is incomplete but that’s to be expected – you’re plotting trends that are still in progress. The goal posts are shifting, and no one can be certain where they are headed.

    However, I question your speculation that the solution for the progressive side of politics is a Greens-Labor alliance. Here’s why. Accompanying the steady decline of support for the old major parties (Labor and Coalition) are three separate trends: a sprinkling of prominent independents over the years (Kathy McGowan being the latest); the rise and fall of minor parties (Family First, DLP, PUP); and most significantly, the growing base of the Greens.

    As the electorate continues to splinter more constituencies are gaining representation and they cannot be ignored. Minority governments (already a feature of some state parliaments) will become the norm rather than the exception. Parliaments will operate with shifting alliances. This is a good thing, despite what we hear from the old parties and their cheer squads. It means solutions to big challenges such as climate change, jobs, food and water security, sustainable transport and infrastructure, public funding of health and education and so on have to be negotiated by taking into account a much broader range of stakeholders. That’s rarely the case now. Spending and policy are dictated by the vested interests attached to the old parties – which, incidentally, are their biggest donors: big business, property and infrastructure developers and miners.

    In this scenario, a permanent alliance with either of the old parties could come at great cost for any of the smaller players, including the Greens. In a coalition or permanent alliance, backroom deals are the norm. These exclude alternative views and limit the range of options available. Worst of all, blame attaches to bad decisions forced upon the junior party. Look at what happened to the Greens in Tasmania. If you can be a voice at the table where the big decisions will be made without these limitations, why not?

    In terms of parliamentary politics, this means exploring a wider range of options than broad coalitions or alliances. We will see more arrangements like the one the independents have just negotiated in South Australia. They support the minority Labor Government on supply and confidence in return for an open debate on policy settings and spending. Compromise will still be the norm. Just not the kind of compromise we mostly see: between a party’s ideal position and what their big donors will tolerate.

  40. Jim Buckell
    Thanks. Thoughtful comment. I completely agree. I hadn’t thought it through but I’m not sure that I was envisaging a permanent coalition. I very much take your point about the lessons to be learned from Tasmania.

  41. I don’t like the preferential voting system. It forces me to vote for people I don’t want to vote for. Our preferences are then used to elect parties that we didn’t want to win. I want to make a statement to the big two with my vote and preferences dilute the effect.

  42. Basically, a LABOR/GREENS coalition is the sensible way to increase their hold in both State and Federal Politics … They are both leftist in their ideals and both are keen to seek in keeping an equilibrium on an even keel that would benefit both the Australian worker and the corporate moguls … This alone will ensure that a totalitarian party such as the LibNats will have a difficult time in backing the Money Sector … With a LABOR/GREENS coalition in government, Australians will see a return to the grassroots ideals that have always struggled to be maintained in a sensible and calculated manner … If this ever happens to come to fruition our freedom and rights will be returned to all Australians as it should be … Our heritage has always been to give every person a fair go as just reward for their efforts in keeping Australia Australian … This is our identity and as Australians we should always embrace the ‘Fair Go’ principle regardless of being a street sweeper or a Pitt Street Farmer … So to keep this ideal within our Nation, a resurrected LABOR/GREENS amalgamation is an ideal that could pave the way back to where our fair nation began … I myself, would welcome a move in this direction and I’m sure it would be supported by many Australians …

  43. Jim Buckell
    Re-reading your comment it seems to me that you are actually saying the Greens should hold themselves out of a role in Government as the crisis deepens until they either can form government in their own right or at least until they become the major partner in any power sharing arrangement. A chief reason for that being to avoid being tarnished by having consumed the shit sandwiches that as minor partners in coalition they have been forced to swallow. The example being Tasmania. Correct me if I’m wrong. If I’ve got it right the problem I see is that there is not enough time. Our raft of crises is so far advanced that waiting until the progressive vote flocks to the Greens and sensible independents in such numbers that the cross bench becomes the government is not an option.

  44. Not at all Doug. I’m in favour of more voices coming to the table of government. Precisely because we have unfolding crises at many levels, we need to work together much better. Our Westminster parliamentary system serves us poorly in this regard. The very words “Government” and “Opposition” sum it up. You’re either with us or against us. This is an artificial divide whose day is done. Drawing on the example of South Australia again, one of the independents is a minister, but still retains his right to vote against the majority in Cabinet. That’s one model. Another might be Cabinet member without portfolio. Cabinet could endeavour to make decisions by consensus. We will have to be creative. Mistakes will be made, but they won’t be nearly as serious as the ones we are making now.

  45. Douglas Evans.
    I agree with you – time is of the essence. There will be nothing worth protecting or governing if we wait for ‘perfect’ conditions. Most sides of politics happily set aside their differences in times of war but the current ‘left’ in politics haven’t fully grasped the seriousness of Australia’s ‘internal’ war.

    I am reminded of that story about a family of ‘high moral principles’ sitting out a raging storm on the roof of their house as flood waters rise perilously. Various life-lines were offered…. even a fishing boat with crusty old fishermen arrived but their help was rejected on the basis that…. “God will save us!” Of course, the family drowned, arrived in Heaven and challenged God: “Why didn’t you save us?” God replied: “I offered assistance but you rejected it. I even sent a fully manned fishing boat!”

  46. Kaye Lee

    The cynic in you thinks that the Greens could be corrupted but that no one has tried because the Greens are unlikely to form government. And you may be right.
    But you would have them as something like an ‘Integrity department’ in a coalition of Labor and the Greens.
    So would I. They are trying to bring some transparency into the murky area of political lobbying and corporate political donations.

    [1] The Greens “currently have a bill for a national Icac that is before the federal parliament.”

    [2] The Coalition and Labor together have blocked any federal reforms on corporate political donations.

    [3] …”both the government and opposition have opposed attempts to establish a national lobbyists’
    watchdog.”

    It’s high time for a corruption commission [Lee Rhiannon, 17 April 2014, The Guardian]

  47. I fully support Dan Rowden in his three posts,as far as I am concerned Labor have fully lost the plot and the Greens are the only Party with any moral fortitude.

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