Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The lady doth protest too much, methinks

I don’t know what’s more pathetic: that the Coalition has been reduced to saying that the Greens are extremists who have Gillard by the short and curlies, or that it seems to be working.

In the inaugural Gough Whitlam Oration, she basically only addressed two things in detail – the extreme failure of NSW Labor on the weekend, and the notion that Labor are in bed with the Greens. I don’t really know enough about NSW politics to comment much on that part, but in both cases it seems the message was clear: don’t associate our government with either of them. We’ll reconstitute the NSW wing, and we’ll distance ourselves from the Greens because we are flat-out terrified of what might happen to the polls if we don’t.

Which is fine, I guess. It’s crude, transparent politicking, and I really hope that the voting public doesn’t fall for it quite as easily as she seems to think they will. But if she wants to attack her allies in an attempt to distance herself from them, such is her prerogative. So too is it Tony Abbott’s prerogative to act like a petulant child, and attack any attempt at progress in the hope of getting what he wants. What annoys me, though, is when they tell lies to do so.

Gillard says that the Greens do not share the values of everyday Australians. In the last federal election, the Greens got 11.76% of the vote in the House of Representatives, and 13.11% of the Senate (by comparison, Labor won with 37.99% of the HoR). They got more than three times the lower-house vote that the National Party did, for instance; in fact, they run a close third behind Labor and the Liberals, ahead of all the other parties that make up the Coalition.

So in a very real sense, everyday Australians do share the values of the Greens, and they voted accordingly. The only reason this is less than apparent in the current makeup of Parliament is because of how spread out the votes were – the Greens only won a single seat with their 11.76%, whereas the Liberal National Party of Queensland, the second-biggest component of the Coalition, won 21 seats with only 9.12% of the vote.

Furthermore, the idea that the Greens have an agenda that is out of step with that of the Australian people is ridiculous too. Unlike the two major parties, the Greens support the right to die with dignity – as do 76% of Australians. Unlike the two major parties, the Greens support the right to gay marriage – as do 60% of Australians.

The biggest focal point for the Greens at the moment is climate change; they believe it is happening and is caused by humans, as do the majority of Australians (although different surveys give different percentages) and indeed the two major parties believe this as well, differing only on how best to attack the problem.

From the other perspective, both Labor and the Coalition have spent the last few days (and indeed a lot of time in the past) kowtowing to religious lobby groups – groups which oppose the above social issues – affirming to them their commitment to all these supposed ‘family values’. The political sway of these religious groups far outweighs their relevance to everyday Australians, and as the statistics above suggest their agenda is positively counter to that of most of us.

There are of course policies of the Greens that some people vehemently oppose, but the same can be said of Labor and the Coalition. The notion of the modern Greens as an extremist party is at best deeply flawed.

Finally, though, the idea that the Greens are pulling all the strings is for me a thoroughly puzzling one. The major reasons I voted for the Greens were their positions on climate change, gay marriage, euthanasia, censorship and asylum seekers – and I suspect most other Greens voters would include at least some of those in their reasons.

We have made little, if any, progress on gay marriage and euthanasia. The asylum seeker problem worsens every day, under Labor’s utterly ineffectual guidance. Conroy’s Clean Feed proposal has been shelved, but this was done well before the election. We finally have some progress on climate change, but as Gillard has repeatedly said, Labor always intended to act on climate change – all the current situation has done is tweak the way she’s done it.

So, basically, of the many things the Greens wanted to do – most of which are supported by the majority of Australians - they’ve convinced Labor to do exactly one. The one that they were already going to do anyway. Tell me again how Bob Brown is the master puppeteer?

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