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Who do you trust? « Previous | |Next »
December 27, 2003

I see that The Australian is running a big story on the very decentralized The Australian Greens courtesy of Jamie Walker. (no link) Even with a regulation half-Senate election in the second half of next year, I presume that the prospect of 2-3 extra Green Senators in the Senate at the expense of the Australian Democrats does not appeal to the decidely conservative+neo-liberal Australian.

Unlike me, the Murdoch-owned Australian does not like the prospect of the Greens as a third force in Australian politics. Not one little bit. Hence the Green bashing that is starting to appear in the newspaper.

Walker's story builds on this one. The piece is largely descriptive in the style of informative objective journalism: a bit of history, the Greens are decentralized with little in the way of national organization; are anti-globalization;they saw off the attempt by the Trotskyites and Socialist Workers Party to take them over. I sort of 'get to know the Australian Greens.'

However, the piece contains a political message about the role likely to be played by the Greens in the Senate. How would they act? What would they do with their power. Would they negotiate? Would they just say no?

Walker suggests the model of Tasmania from 1989 to 1992 indicates what would happen. That was when the Field Labor Government was in power. What does that indicate? You cannot negotiate with the Greens says a bitter Field, the ex-Labor Premier, even with an Accord in place. I say bitter, because the Field-led ALP then worked with the Liberals to reduce the overall number of seats of the Tasmanian Parliament, in order to reduce the representation of the Greens.

My reading is different. The Tasmanian State ALP is largely beholden to the logging companies. The line is the old one of 'what is good for Gunns is good for Tasmania.' Hence all the talk about resource security for the logging companies and more jobs from woodchipping ever more native forests. You hear nothing about knowledge nation from the blinkered Bacon ALP government and little about fostering change to a value-adding timber industry.

My judgement is that cannot trust the current ALP to deliver on the environment, even if you have an Accord. In the past the federal ALP developed on the Franklin. My fear is when the crunch comes today's ALP will favour economic development at the expense of environmental protection and rehabilitation.

Under a Latham ALP desperate for power, the green touch will be light indeed. It is fair to say that sustainability is not a word in their policy tool kit.

That tool kit consists of a commitment to border protection, national security and "sensible" economic management policies. Sensible does not mean sustainable or even 'green modernization.' And I have yet to hear Latham speaking in favour of the environment, as opposed to the policy talk about climbing the rungs of the ladder of success.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:48 AM | | Comments (12)
Comments

Comments

On the contrary -- Latham's first trip as leader was to Tasmania to discuss forest policy, and even Bob Brown thinks Latham's alright on the environment: "Senator Brown said Mr Latham was part of a new generation which recognised the importance of the environment."

Robert,
I had meant the policy tool kit in Latham's 3 books.

I am not oppposed to the ALP. The ALP under Crean, for instance, was committed to increasing environmental flows for the Murray River to 1500 gigalitres. Full marks to Crean.

And the Gallop ALP in WA has done a good job on saving the old growth forests in southern WA.

L knew about Latham's planned visit to the Styx Valley and the Tarkine in Tasmania.

But it is still only a proposed visit is it not?

I wait to see the policy proposals that come out of it.

A deal in the offering?

Saving the old growth forests for the Green preferences for inner Melbourne and Sydney electorates?

If Latham does 'a Hawk' and overrides the Bacon ALP and brings it back from its path of ecological destruction, then I too will stand with Latham.

Till then I will wait and see and play scratching where it itches.

In the meantime I will support Bob Brown's wooing of Mark Latham.

We shall see whether Latham can live up to his statements. My biggest fear is that he is feeding us a line and will drop the pretence once he is elected. We already know he is on his best behaviour and is acting completely out of character. Can this leopard really change it's spots?

Where will he go with the US free trade agreement and other economic policy I wonder.

Gary, Latham has visited Tasmania to discuss the forests, and has promised to make another trip so he can accompany Bob Brown to the forests.

My feeling is that Latham will pull Tassie into line because it was such a vote-winner in WA (and the economic cost was not massive -- most of the timber workers have been re-employed elsewhere).

Robert,
I do hope you are right about Latham pulling Tasmania into line because of votes in WA.

I did not realize that WA figured in the equation. How many seats are marginal?

Gary, I've uploaded an electoral pendulum that was published by The Age after the latest redistribution:

It shows WA's marginals as follows:

Canning: 0.4 (Lib)
Stirling: 1.6 (Lab)
Hasluck: 1.8 (Lab)
Swan: 2.1 (Lab)
Kalgoorlie: 4.4 (Lib)
Cowan: 5.6 (Lab)

Robert,
thanks. It's intersting isn't it.

It is about WA, SA then NSW. But mainly NSW---Dobell, Parramatta, Patterson, Richmond.

Not the inner urban seats in Melbourne at all.

What sort of swing to the ALP is required to give them the 8 seats they need to form government?

Read the chart- a uniform swing of 1.7% will be enough.

This is why I've held that the ALP was always a shoe-in, even with Simon Crean in charge. Howard knows this also.

The chart says 1.7% swing; but the ALP has to get back to the level of popular votes it had the previous federal election.

It has to make up ground----so how much do they need to claw back?

5%? 10%?

It's less than 1.7 -- it's a 1.7% 2pp swing in the marginal seats only. Of course, by the same token, a massive swing in safe seats will be meaningless without the marginals.

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