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Politics in SA « Previous | |Next »
January 31, 2003

The steady erosion of the major political (Lib/Lab) parties in a globalised world continues in SA. A clear marker of this was yesterday's decision by Kris Hanna, the state Labor MP for Mitchell, to quit the Labor Party, join the Greens and give the fledgling Greens their first state seat in Parliament.

For the story see IT IS EASY BEING GREEN

Hanna confirms this weblog's account of the Rann Government that, though it is popular, its governing style concentrates on media management at the expense of good policy so it can win the next election.

The point of the media management or spin is to engineer consent of citizens to be governed by Rann & Co. The spin aims to show that the Rann Government is doing something more than keeping the economic machine ticking and massaging the voters.

The classic example of this spin and posturing is SA blaming the upstream states for the state of the River Murray by engaging in media stunts to highlight the illhealth of the river. They are replaying the strategy of the Olsen Government, which Mike Rann and John Hill savagely criticized at the time.

This political posturing hides the lack of action by the SA Government to fix up the problems in its own backyard. It is doing very little to developing a river health strategy for the Eastern Mt Lofty Ranges, nothing about renewal energy in the Upper Spencer Gulf, unwilling to confront the need to cut Adelaide and SA's dependence of River Murray water.

Of course, these environmental policy considerations did not play a role in Kris Hanna's decision to leave the ALP. This left-liberal is joining Greens because of his opposition to the war with Iraq, Labor's policy on refugees and his anger at other Government policies in areas such as law and order. See here

This move will change state politics though not in the sense of undermining the Rann Labor Government's hold on power in the Lower House. It will change things more in the sense that this gives the Greens a toehold in parliamentary politics. This toehold provides a platform to build their electoral support at the expense of the embattled SA Australian Democrats. The Greens are outpolling the Democrats in SA, just as they are doing in the other states. Thats a big turn around because SA was the home and stronghold of the Australian Democrats.

The SA Greens Charter is more of a vision statement that sets out the general principles. It has no concrete policies for SA. Has the hard thinking about SA's future as a sustainable state yet to be done? Or are the local Greens not good at putting their polcies online? Do they have green policies for the economy?

Once dissident MPs like Kris Hanna would have joined the Australian Democrats. His move to the Greens on classic left liberal grounds is another indication of the sorry state the Democrats are in after their implosion during 2002.

These days the Democrats have little political cred. After their moment of self-destruction they are now seen to be a spend political force by the electorate. Do they need to hire some good spinners and publicists for their media management?

And a big quesion: Is this local example of a shift in politics exemplify the reconfiguation of politics of the nation-state, due to the pressures of globalization? Has Kris Henna actually put his finger on something quite important: that regional governments in a global world can no longer deliver the goods and services to their citizens? Their political legitimacy is this compromised and they cover up their incompetence or eroded capacity with media management?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:51 AM | | Comments (11)
Comments

Comments

I like to read things like the 'Greens Charter' for the comic value. I can't see that been translated into policies that would win mass support.

The Greens are important though because they affect the way the ALP behaves.

Gary,
The charter is indeed a vision statement.The policies are found under the policy tab at the same website. eg economics then ==> http://www.greens.org.au/g1economicsfull.htm

Thanks wbb,
I'll chase it up and show Scott how visions can be translated into policies.
It can be done Scott.eg, neo-liberalism with its vision of the free competitive market translated into practical policies.

"These days the Democrats have little political cred." Is this simply because their moment of self-destruction occurred the moment they actually had a real impact on policy with the implementation of the GST? Will the Greens not suffer the same fate when their turn comes as it surely must with increased electoral success(by whatever means) The furious back-pedal by Bob Brown over the Telstra cash for a parcel of Green goodies tends to suggest they will.Sooner or later you have to stand up for something.

oops!
and be counted.

oops!

Neo-liberalism wasn't high on the agenda of the "Greens Charter" though Gary

Scott,
I'll have to read the Green policies and get back. I suspect that they are broad brush with a national focus and with very little detailed policies on regional development in SA.

may i remind everyone that the greens are a small, very young australian party who do not accept corporate donations and who have only a few elected parliamentarians and a few dozen local government councillors.

the policies are necessarily painted with a broad-brush and are designed to stimulate wide debate within the electorate in order to present a greener view of the issue.

that said, when the greens do get into roles where policy making is important they have done well, as in Tasmania, where christine milne and peg putt in particular are regarded as real policy innovators by most honest commentators there.

Ausyankie,
I accept that the Australian Greens policies are broadbushed, and acknowledge that in Tasmania they have acted as real policy inovators.

My point is that Kris Hanna left the ALP because of social justice policies (refugees) not environmental ones.

So where are the environmental policies? The Greens did fight the last state election a year or so ago.

So we would expect some regional policies that distinquish them from the Australian Democrats and the Australian Labor Party.

Presumably it is a sustainable SA --but what does that mean?

I would suggest spending some time at the main greens web site in australia to grasp where the greens are coming from on the environment and how they differ from the environmental policies of the ALP. The sustainability of SA is too deep a topic to go into in this forum! But perhaps you can investigate further on your blog Gary...