The Greens’ great moral challenge

15 Jul

I keep coming across comments such as this one from Zareh Ghazarian, Monash School of Political and Social Inquiry, in a piece in The Conversation today on the carbon tax legislation:

Indeed, even if Mr Abbott was to win the next election his government would presumably have to negotiate with the Greens in the Senate to dismantle the policy. At the moment, this would appear to be an almost impossible outcome.

The situation is that should Abbott attempt to dismantle the carbon tax policy and the Senate twice resist these attempts, Abbott has threatened a double dissolution. Bob Brown has already given a “rolled gold guarantee” that  the Greens will oppose any attempts by the Coalition to rescind the legislation, so a double dissolution looks likely.

In the event of such an outcome, all Senate seats are up for grabs. What are the chances of the Greens re-gaining the balance of power in a double dissolution election? I’m no expert but gut feelings say I doubt it.

What a moral challenge for the Greens! To capitulate to Abbott’s demands to rescind the carbon tax, avoid an election and thus maintain their balance of power, or to thwart Abbott’s will and risk losing Senate seats.

And then there’s this statement in the same post:

While the government has been down in the opinion polls, there are two years until the next election is due. Time is on the government’s side.

Well, yes, as long as there aren’t any by-elections. The government can’t afford to rest in the belief that time is in on its side. It may very well not be. The government can’t afford to plan as if it has two full years in which to persuade the public to accept the carbon tax. It may very well not have, in the event of adverse circumstances.

Beware the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune!

While Kevin Rudd apparently lacked the bottle to call a double dissolution in 2010, it’s a safe bet that Abbott won’t be as timid. We can only keep our fingers crossed that the angels are watching over the government, that all misfortune is held at bay, and that nobody does anything stupid and has to resign.

Brown’s “rolled gold guarantee” has pretty much committed his party to a course of action that could well see them undone. Unless they do a backflip like everyone else does, and then they really will have come of age in Australian politics.

19 Responses to “The Greens’ great moral challenge”

  1. Dejan Tesic July 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    If the Greens collaborate in rescinding the carbon tax, then they are not needed anyway. And I’ll definitely switch to donkey votes in the future.


  2. paul walter July 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Do you have to lobotomise yourself, if you live in an asylum, just to ensure the overall definition for admission is assured?
    If the Australian People persist in their mulish anality, I will spit on them.
    I am older now and I will be dead before many of them; if they want their children to live in a pigsty, as well as brazenly, shamelessly reinforcing their mulish ignorance and arrogance, so be it and I’ll laugh my way to hell, on the way down with the devil.


  3. Marilyn July 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    There cannot be grounds for a double dissolution on the basis of repealing a tax. It is not a money bill.

    DD”s are only constitutional for the money bills that collect money,. Honest to god what a lock of ignorant whining the Australian’s are on about over a tax they won’t be frigging paying.


  4. gerard oosterman July 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Abbott is rejecting the idea of holding an inquiry into Newscorps. I wonder why?
    He is even saying that some of those Murdoch newspapers are very good.

    So, take your pick boys and girls. I’ll support Julia any time with her changing her mind about a carbon tax a mere bagatelle compared with the decades of genetically implanted male cotery of lying politicians.. How does the lie about changing on carbon compare with Howards ‘children overboard? How does the lie about Weapons of mass Destruction compare with carbon tax? How does the lie from the AWB compare with carbon?
    All male lying bastards, the lot of them. I’ll stick up for a female lie anytime.


    • Jennifer Wilson July 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      Well that’s a novel way of framing the argument, Gerard. Lying by gender.

      I’d like to see Julia quietly leave the leadership and be replaced. I just don’t know who by. Anyone got any suggestions?

      I think she’s beyond rescue from public disapproval and dislike, and that’s stuffing up everything she tries to do.


      • gerard oosterman July 15, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

        Sorry Jennifer, but I would have thought you would stick up for Julia a bit more. She introduced the Carbon Tax, finally doing something to protect future generations. Abbott doesn’t even believe in climate change and has lied about that issue as well.
        He now slips and slide around trying his best to unhinge anything and anybody that stands in his way to leadership but never comes up with a forward policy.
        Just on the carbon tax alone she stands miles higher than any other contender. Would you prefer Julie (Darth Vader) Bishop)?


        • Jennifer Wilson July 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

          No I don’t want the Coalition in government, the thought of that makes my toes curl and not with pleasure.
          It’s not question of sticking up for Julia, I’m being totally pragmatic and looking beyond the individual, even when she is a woman and everyone would expect me to support her.
          I just think she’s lost too much trust and confidence and people aren’t listening to her. This is really bad for the government as the polls show.
          So in order to avoid a slaughter by the coalition maybe we need a PM who can bring supporters back, build up some trust, gain some confidence over the next two years.
          Supporting Julia looks like flogging a dead horse to me. It’s over for her unless she manages to do some serious turning around in the near future, and I can’t see that happening if flocks of voters are just tuning her out.
          I think she had a lot of potential but the spin doctors (faceless men) got hold of her and she let them, and now it’s too late. They haven’t done her any favours. It’s a real shame, IMO. They should have had someone else replace Rudd, who would then have been tarnished by that event instead of Julia, then brought Julia in as PM later. But none of those blokes who allegedly are behind the coup seem very smart to me, as events have proved. Really stupid thing to do, chuck out a first term PM. Even if he was driving them nuts, they should have sucked it up. No other workplace can just chuck out a boss who’s driving people mad. Why should the politicians?


  5. Marilyn July 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    And Unley High has always been one of the richest state schools in SA.

    What is don’t get is why no-one ever points out that coming here as a 5 year old does not make a heritage.


  6. paul walter July 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    The thing is, they proved they won’t get off their arses for other people, with the asylum seeker spectacle.
    But the carbon tax and ecology on general seems to indicate the extent of their capture by the system, they won’t move even for themselves and their own, ecology issues involving science demonstrate and over decades and generations.
    This country is, “no place for sheep”, yet seemingly it is to be run by them for them and their chook-brained, dislocated from reality, delusory inculcated ideas and agendas with Gillard’s trepidous attempt on a carbon tax and the nosepicking Cronulla like response to it, the best we can aspire to, this far into this new pomo century.


  7. gerard oosterman July 16, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    The low approval rating for Julia does not reflect the reality of how things really stand. It is more the success of Murdoch’s relentless campaign to unhinge a labour government of an uninformed and uneducated constituency, no matter who would be PM. Most of the commercial world, most of the science, most of the miners, most economists are on the side of the introduction of a Carbon Tax.

    It is an oxymoron to mention total 100% honesty and politicians in the one breath.

    So, concentrate on the Carbon Tax and give Julia credit for that. It is one of the most important bits of legislation to have ever been introduced. History will judge her on that more than what she said this way or that way. In the meantime, reflect that she did achieve becoming a PM, not an easy task for a female in a nation of rogue raping footballers and Cronulla rioters.


    • Jennifer Wilson July 17, 2011 at 8:33 am #

      So how do you feel about Gillard’s Malaysia solution?


      • gerard oosterman July 18, 2011 at 8:21 am #

        That Malaysian solution is terrible but the Abbott solution even worse. Our well manured and inbred hostility towards anything non-Anglo is as ripe now as it was during the reign of Australia’s White policy. But……, that doesn’t take away that at least she has initiated an attempt to make the world livable for out grand-kids..


        • Jennifer Wilson July 18, 2011 at 8:27 am #

          Yes, you’re right Gerard, Gillard has got the carbon tax up and it will probably stay up as Abbott government will find it incredibly expensive to try and dismantle it.

          Do you really think re-opening Nauru is worse than Malaysia? It’s a terrible thing that we find ourselves having to make such a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.


  8. Arved July 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I think in these circumstances, a double dissolution is unlikely to unseat The Greens as a majority. As each state would then have 12 Senators on the ballot, that would mean the quota for a seat halves. With The Greens primary vote still well above 10%, this would see each state return at least one Green even after a double dissolution. The ACT is very nearly primed to upset the standard practice of returning one Labor and one Liberal Senator too. With the dislike of Abbott here and threats of 12,000 public service cuts, that might be the tipping point. It would also see the return of Family First, the introduction of The Sex Party, and several other small parties and independents. The Greens may not have total balance of power role, but enough of the Senate cross bench would be sympathetic on most things.

    While it is probably true that in a combined sitting of the House and Senate, the Coalition might have the numbers to repeal the tax, several other factors come into play that make such an action very politically dangerous. This would mean 2 elections within 6 months. Very expensive, and it can easily blow up in their face. The public generally don’t like having to vote too often. The parties don’t like voting too often either. It’s very expensive to campaign, and the Liberal party has been close to bankruptcy in a few places when State and Federal elections are too close together. It would also piss off The Greens, and still having the balance of power would make it very hard for the Coalition to get any other legislation through the Senate (eg a return to the Pacific solution, or rolling back the NBN). The Coalition can’t afford 3 Federal (and probably a state) election in the span of one calendar year. (The Labor party probably couldn’t either). I think this is mostly bluster from Abbott. The Liberal power brokers aren’t going to let Abbott bankrupt them. Greens have typically been able to manage well on shoestring budgets. (In the previous election, the Sex Party did best in terms of number of votes returned for their advertising budget, but the Greens weren’t far behind.)

    A by-election is unlikely. Politicians don’t die in office anymore, and no one from the Labor or House cross bench is going to retire in this environment.

    That means the most likely scenario is that this government sees a full term. I personally have a great deal of respect for Gillard and this Government. It is a testament to her skill as a negotiator how well the government is operating on the day-to-day stuff that I hear from public servants in Canberra. All proposed Government legislation has been passed by this parliament. The deals Gillard struck to secure Government are with her personally; the Labor party cannot dismiss her. I think there is an element of sexism in much of the way she is attacked, but wow, is she strong. Therefore, time is on her, and the Government’s side. I also suspect that if Murdoch’s problems in the UK migrate to Australia, as they’re starting to in the US, then the Government’s fortunes will improve greatly as well. The Radio Australia contract might be the more likely source for that, rather than the bias in newspapers angle.

    I think the bigger problem for the Labor party is that they don’t know what they’re about anymore. They have been comfortable to haemorrhage primary votes to the Greens, because they always came back to Labor on preferences. This left them free to court the conservative vote. Now the Greens are getting to be so large that Labor can no longer afford to keep losing votes to them. This has led to Labor trying to please everybody which never works out. While I think Gillard has it in her to come back from this, I’m not sure the Labor party as a whole does. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Greens become the second dominant party in 50 years. They’re problem will be ensuring there is a smooth transition when Bob Brown retires.


    • Jennifer Wilson July 17, 2011 at 7:13 am #

      Thanks for that Arved – you’re right about the cost of a double dissolution, and then there’s the expense of repealing a tax – all round a hugely expensive exercise.

      At this stage Abbott appears to be on a winner with his sound and fury – he can promise to repeal the tax, win the next election,claim a mandate, then explain how the previous Labor government has made it impossibly expensive to repeal the legislation, something he couldn’t be expected to know until he gained government, therefore he can’t justify the use of taxpayers dollars to dismantle the tax and that’s all Gillard’s fault!

      I don’t look forward to the next two years of Abbott’s electioneering.


  9. gerard oosterman July 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,

    This is something else. This ‘sheep-side is very slow in loading and very slow in getting out. No other side does this. I wonder if any other contributors have the same problem?


    • Jennifer Wilson July 17, 2011 at 7:02 am #

      Thanks, Gerard, I haven’t experience this but will check with WordPress.
      Perhaps we have become threatening, and the target of dark forces trying to shut us up.
      But more likely WordPress is having some issues – they do from time and time and usually tell us.


  10. paul walter July 18, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Yes, Gerard speaks truth- very, very clunky.


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