Home > Oz Politics > Labor and the Greens

Labor and the Greens

June 19th, 2016

The election campaign has brought into focus the long-standing problem of how Labor and the Greens should deal with each other, which became critical after the 2010 election. Both parties have made a mess of things this time around. Rather than go over that ground, I’m going to give my view on how they should work in the future.

First, both parties need to realise that they are part of the same centre-left movement. For Labor that means giving up the idea that the Greens are a temporary irritant that will go the way of the DLP, if they are abused and/or ignored long enough. For the Greens, it means abandoning Third Way rhetoric suggesting that they represent an unaligned alternative to a two-party duopoly.

In electoral terms, the starting point for both parties should be an exchange of preferences in all seats, with the LNP last. That starting point doesn’t preclude changes in the case of particularly objectionable (or particularly good) candidates, but it does rule out the kinds of negotiations we’ve seen so many times with the LNP or with conservative minor parties. It also rules out the fake piety of Green “open tickets”.

Such a policy would be good for the centre-left as a whole, but it would also benefit each of the parties to adopt it unilaterally. The alleged hardheads who negotiate these deals have repeatedly bungled them, while creating division and attracting bad publicity.

Equally important is the question of how the parties should work in Parliament. The most important is the case that emerged in 2010, with Labor needing Greens support to form a government. My reading of that episode is that both parties were harmed by the conclusion of a formal deal, and that a coalition with Green ministers would make things even worse. Instead, the Greens should support Labor on confidence votes, and negotiate on all other legislation on the merits.

An approach like this would enable the Greens to influence policy in positive ways, while not tying them to Labor policies they regard as unacceptable. For Labor, the obvious benefit is that they could form a government while maintaining a formal position of “no deals”. For the centre-left as a whole, the policy outcome would be better than that from a Labor government with a tame majority.

Categories: Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Pete Moran
    June 19th, 2016 at 17:00 | #1

    The ALP have a few notable left-leaning individuals, but are a slightly-right-of-centre party.

    They are focused on the machinery of politics rather than long term consistent policy.

    The Greens certainly aren’t going away but the ALP response is to defend the duopoly.

    JQ, could you clarify the ‘third-way’ comment? I see a party with their own policies that want them implemented.

  2. Jim Rose
    June 19th, 2016 at 17:25 | #2

    I do not think the greens and labour are part of the same movement because the greens are much more about expressive politics. Labour is much more about getting a better deal for ordinary families.

  3. Newtownian
    June 19th, 2016 at 18:24 | #3

    A lot depends on what the parties respectively stand for and hence their differences and whether these might be resolved or at best can only be papered over.

    In the case of Labor it seems fairly clear what they stand for, more soft neoliberalism of the past 40 years, a strategy starting with the rise of Hawke (see the old BLF capturing it in the “Mild Colonial Boy” http://ozfolksongaday.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/mild-colonial-boy.html ) and crystalized in Rudd who spawned comparable songs e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa_VwEGValk . TPP, Manus Is? No problem. When there was still free tertiary education and full Medicare the return to Laissez Faire capitalism seemed benign and we could have our cake and sell off Qantas/Combank/Medibank Pvt with inpunity. Now we know different and Labor are caught on the razor wire of past pursuit of short term gain v. their increasing long term philosophical/coherency collapse if only because they are losing the younger generation. Enough said.

    Meanwhile what of the Greens? What do they stand for? Is it coherent? Are they simply replacing the Australian Democrats with a focus on social before environmental issues in their policies http://greens.org.au/policy . For example in respect to the economy:
    – ” The pursuit of continuous material-based economic growth is incompatible with the planet’s finite resources.” agreed but on implementation and the barriers they seem largely silent.
    – “Natural monopolies and essential public services should generally be in public ownership.” Seems reasonable but how is this to be achieved without expropriation or massive tax raising?
    – “Taxation reforms that improve housing affordability by no longer rewarding speculation and reducing asset inequality.” Yes but how and when and who loses?
    – “Achieving economic and social justice depends upon democratic participation in economic decision-making.” Nice idea but how given the current implementation of managerial principles? Canvassing via surveys which even a fool would not answer truthfully for fear of workplace sanctions in a world where even union membership is a black mark.
    – ” In Brief No tax cuts for the rich, High-skill green jobs, Zero-carbon industries” – sounds like Labor with a green tinge. But is this a coherent overall strategy or quick patchwork?

    The above is not to suggest the Green principles arent positive but rather is what they have more a collection of motherhood statements which will come unstuck under pressure from real politic or quasi coalition or their being forced to develop messy details. And if the latter is likely why vote for them?

    For me a key test is whether their economics add ups yet. But as far as I can tell their plans reduce to “Tax big business and the rich, give to the poor/disposessed http://greens.org.au/budget. Nice sentiments but in the real world of reorientation there will be huge numbers of losers, a problem that has vexed Labor because key unions are present in the likes of the mining industry.

    And perhaps the sticking point is this, the Greens are driven primarily by ideology whereas Labor is now driven by the pragmatism of seeking power for its own sake. In the old days this existed and could be dealt with within the Labor Party via truces between comrades. But the Greens even more than the coalition are now clearly Labor’s enemy so it is hard to see things getting better in terms of inter-party relationships. They are worlds apart.

  4. Peter Evans
    June 19th, 2016 at 18:41 | #4

    JQ is spot on, but the careerists in both parties don’t want to know about it. Political parties in Australia are publicly funded patronage machines with pretty decent career outcomes if you can work it, so, to mangle a well known maxim, so much personal aggrandisement depends on assiduously avoiding the bleeding obvious (JQ’s summary, which needs to be said often and loudly).

  5. Zvyozdochka (@Zvyozdochka)
    June 19th, 2016 at 19:22 | #5

    @Peter Evans

    Which current Greens are ‘careerists’? How ridiculous.

  6. Sancho
    June 19th, 2016 at 19:46 | #6

    Crikey, Zvy. Have you kept an eye on Adam Bandt? Textbook apparatchik.

    I gave up on the Greens after working on Cathy Oke’s state campaign. Utterly soulless serial candidate who takes a minder everywhere to avoid direct contact with human beings.

    The Greens are more like the Visitors than like the Labor Party.

  7. June 19th, 2016 at 20:20 | #7

    As for putting the LNP last, with the current senate voting, can’t you simply not preference them at all, to avoid any chance of them getting your vote?

  8. Lt. Fred
    June 19th, 2016 at 20:56 | #8

    @Jim Rose
    There’s really nothing to that silly comment. The Greens, like Labor, are a political party with a policy agenda, employees, activists and institutions. Sometimes they make dumb mistakes – but they are rarely as corrupt or braindead or self-defeating as Labor and its famous factional warlordism

  9. Douglas Hynd
    June 19th, 2016 at 20:59 | #9

    Been impressed with most of the Green candidates that I have dealt with in the ACT – particularly Senate candidates and ACT Assembly elected representatives. Things have worked pretty well in the ACT at the Assembly level – but that may reflect the operation of the Hare Clark system. For the only seat possibly in contention at the Federal level – its held by the Liberals so there has been a long term tacit cooperative approach by the local ALP at the tilts by the Greens at that seat. That has been assisted by support by a proportion of ALP voters on the left of the party who are quite happy to ticket split between the Reps and the Senate.

  10. paul walter
    June 19th, 2016 at 21:56 | #10

    I have problems with JQ’s summary, given that the ALP supported Abbott on some particularly despicable and fascist legislation involving civil liberties and did not come down on the criminal FTA’s.

    And while large sections of the ALP cling to neoliberalist economics, the Greens will always have an avenue of attack.

    I agree with Quiggin as to the worst of the Greens.. they have not reconciled their principled position of asylum seekers with its Big Pop implications against their raison d etre, pol-economics and a constructive adjustment to reality via the comprehension that the world in not Cornucopic as to enviro.

    I agree that Greens would say that pop growth and asylum seekers and an enviro message are not incompatible and that an economy of our size, properly managed, could easily absorb more people and finally also get some where with decades overdue ecological reform, but the problem is that the Establishment remains a fearful blocking force and that Labor is sometimes right in embarking on a pragamatic approach to some issues, given consent manufacture and the msm in gulling an already politically illiterate People.

    A journo told me recently that the Labor Greens split that JQ mentions is not the case, but I go with Quiggin, it;s essentially the non right splitting on pragmatics v idealism- too many day dreamers in the Greens, too many false consciousness opportunist within Labor and the end result will be that the real villain, the Coalition Cancer, surviving the suffering patient, Australian Civil society.

  11. Nicholas Gruen
    June 19th, 2016 at 22:40 | #11

    The Greens supported fair use ahead of ‘fair dealing’ for copyright, which is far and away the best policy. But CAL exploits all the awkwardness that fair dealing involves and so winds up the artistic community in its favour. Adam announced a recent change of heart telling us that he supported “Fair pay rather than fair use”. A nice slogan driven pivot.

    This isn’t generalised anti-Green sentiment by the way, just noting one way in which they are driven, as all parties must be driven to some extent, by the institutional imperatives of politics.

  12. Tim Macknay
    June 19th, 2016 at 23:18 | #12

    Prof Q, I think you meant 2010, rather than 2013.

    Fixed now thanks

  13. James Wimberley
    June 19th, 2016 at 23:41 | #13

    The parties in Spain made a complete mess of dealing with the new challenge of coalition politics after the last general election, so much so that Spanisn voters are going to the polls again in a week’s time after six months of caretaker government. (This has had the significant benefit that there has been no proper interlocutor for the Brussels austerity police.) In the French Third and Fourth Republics, governments could be formed in a matter of days or weeks. The downside of that facility was that there was little cost to breaking up an existing coalition.

  14. Lachie A’Vard
    June 19th, 2016 at 23:52 | #14

    @John Brookes
    Unfortunately, not in the lower house. Correct about the senate though – it feels wonderful!

  15. Chris Grealy
    June 20th, 2016 at 03:39 | #15

    The Greens are just about the only party with policies that don’t make me sick. Should they get into bed with Labor and support concentration camps, torture, and murder? Better to be a positive influencing force than to throw away all principles in return for power.

  16. wmmbb
    June 20th, 2016 at 04:06 | #16

    What a difference an electoral system can make. In NZ, Labour and the Greens have entered into a memorandum of understanding, perhaps at the expense of Winston Peter’s party (NZ First). Ref: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/80645879/editorial-a-labourgreens-deal-is-worth-trying-but-what-about-winston

  17. paul walter
    June 20th, 2016 at 04:41 | #17

    Dr. Gruen’s commenting was intriguing. Are we looking in the wrong direction for an attack from the enemy?

    If you don’t know some thing has happened, how can you adjust to it, consider it, criticise it?

  18. Ikonoclast
    June 20th, 2016 at 07:47 | #18

    These problems stem from a more basic problem with our constitution and electoral system. At the very least we need a Hare-Clark system with Robson rotation. Then the Greens would have the seats to justify ministers in a coalition. In that case, they would also be given the Deputy PM. The majority party will always take PM and Treasurer.

    But Labor and LNP love the current, undemocratic system as it is heavily biased in favour of them. This creates an unresponsive system; one unresponsive to real social needs and real environmental needs. That’s not a recipe for a sustainable system in any sense.

  19. Paul Norton
    June 20th, 2016 at 08:15 | #19

    There is now an edited collection addressing this question titled How To Vote Progressive In Australia: Labor or Green?, edited by Dennis Altman and Sean Scalmer. I have purchased a copy but have decided to defer reading it until after the election.

    Dennis Altman will be in Brisbane to discuss the book on Tuesday 5 July.

  20. Paul Norton
    June 20th, 2016 at 08:30 | #20

    Having thought about it, I agree with the OP. On the last couple of paragraphs, I think that there is a real issue for Labor – both subjectively and objectively – in being seen to form a government whose reforms are not able to be presented as “Labor reforms” but as being done at the behest of the Greens. Objectively, such a perception hurts Labor’s electoral standing. Subjectively, Labor people being what they are, they are very happy to introduce Reform X that they can believe is a product of the Labor faith and can present to the public in those terms, but will resent and resist an identical Reform X if they think it has been foisted on them by the Greens.

  21. Paul Norton
    June 20th, 2016 at 08:50 | #21

    However, having read Paul Walter’s comments, I think it is also true that there are sufficient points of substantive difference between the Greens and Labor, not only on specific policies but between their overall paradigms, that there is a principled basis for there to be two distinct political parties within the broad centre-left in Australia – as well as it being very probably the case that there will continue to be two such distinct and significant parties of the centre-left for the foreeable future.

  22. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 09:52 | #22

    @Douglas Hynd

    The ACT is not representative of Australia. There is no gas wells, coal mining or motor industry shutdowns in the ACT.

    Just bike paths and international students with @50% public servants mostly on above average incomes.

    The Greens are just a marketing exercise comprised of people who disagree with what the majority of Australians want and so have taken their bat and ball and headed off into their own ‘pc’ pavilion.

  23. GrueBleen
    June 20th, 2016 at 09:52 | #23

    Didn’t we go through all of this a while ago with the Australian Democrats ? Nothing happened then, so what can we expect to happen now ?

  24. Jim
    June 20th, 2016 at 10:57 | #24

    I think JQ is largely on the money here, and the innate ability of the party officials to bungle deals is both astounding and constant. Clearly the dominant mindset is short-term tactics – not longer-term strategy.

    I think there is a real opportunity for the ALP if they make it in as part of a minority government (greens as supply). They will be able to legitimately change some of the really dumb policies where the ALP has painted themselves into a corner as LNP lite (e.g. offshore detention centres, coal mining, defence acquisition of subs).

    A minority ALP government is possibly exactly what the ALP needs to reconnect with their own supporter base.

  25. Bron
    June 20th, 2016 at 11:00 | #25

    A rapprochement between Labor and the Greens won’t happen, for four reasons.

    1. For those people and policies where they reasonably close philosophically, the narcissism of small differences trumps everything.

    2. There are Labor people who are much closer to the LNP than they are to the Greens, such as Michael Danby the member for Melbourne Ports, who has gone on a frolic of his own and preferenced the Liberals ahead of the Greens, for ideological reasons. And then there’s the still very powerful the SDA wing of the Labor Party, for whom the Greens (read: communists), are the devil incarnate.

    3. There are Greens people, especially in NSW, who are far left, not centre-left, and who take the traditional far left view of the Labor Party, that is, one of visceral hatred and contempt.

    4. Labor and the Greens are competing for the same voters and the same seats. It’s hard to be friendly with someone who is trying to take your job.

  26. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 11:12 | #26

    @Bron

    Who in the NSW Greens

    … take the traditional far left view of the Labor Party, that is, one of visceral hatred and contempt.

    Any evidence for this?

    On the other hand you are expressing “visceral hatred and contempt” of some NSW Greens.

    So maybe you are the problem.

  27. J-D
    June 20th, 2016 at 11:42 | #27

    @James Wimberley

    ‘The parties in Spain made a complete mess of dealing with the new challenge of coalition politics after the last general election, so much so that Spanisn voters are going to the polls again in a week’s time after six months of caretaker government.’

    I disagree. It seems to me that each of the four major Spanish parties made a plausibly shrewd choice of strategy, from the point of view of maximising their own prospects in the new situation. The result was that no new government could be formed; but all the scenarios that could have resulted in a new government being formed would have required one or more of the parties to choose serious self-harm. The only way I can conceive of the new election resulting in a new government being formed is if at least one of the four major parties loses its nerve and chooses a strategy that will seriously (possibly even fatally) damage its own future prospects.

    Of course that is a possibility: look at the way the Liberal Democrats in the UK chose a course that was predictably ruinous (for themselves) after the 2010 election.

  28. J-D
    June 20th, 2016 at 11:45 | #28

    Maybe I’ve misunderstood, but it appears to me that you’re suggesting that (in their own partisan interests) the ALP and the Greens should make no deals; and as far as I can tell they are making no deals and aren’t planning on making any.

  29. GrueBleen
    June 20th, 2016 at 13:34 | #29

    @Nicholas Gruen

    Yeah but Di Natale is bidding fair to be the Greens’ Meg lees, or maybe even their Nick Clegg. And indeed, when small idealistic parties that have to appeal to a mixture of idealist and protest voters try to become a part of the day to day power argy-bargy then they very soon, like the Aus Dems and the UK Lib Dems, suffer the slings and arrows of “the institutional imperatives of politics.”

    But because of the idealistic component, the Greens, unlike the Aus Dems, will most likely survive.

  30. totaram
    June 20th, 2016 at 13:55 | #30

    @Ivor
    “The Greens are just a marketing exercise comprised of people who disagree with what the majority of Australians want ”
    I’m not sure this represents the truth. Certain types of polling have shown that most Australians want

  31. totaram
    June 20th, 2016 at 13:58 | #31

    @Ivor

    “The Greens are just a marketing exercise comprised of people who disagree with what the majority of Australians want…. ”

    I’m not sure this represents the truth. Certain types of polling have shown that most Australians want quite a few things that the Greens want, but they just aren’t aware of it because the Greens get such adverse, or even no coverage in the MSM.

  32. June 20th, 2016 at 14:57 | #32

    Okay Prof Q, so you want the ALP and Greens to act on behalf of the centre left as a whole, instead of acting in their partisan interests. The problem with that is that both parties think they are the centre left and the other is outside of this mythical sweet spot, so their partisan interest IS the centre left.

    The ALP doesn’t want to be the party which can only form minority government, because they think (with some justification given the Gillard era) that the public won’t cop the instability. The Greens need to gain credibility by winning more lower house seats, and the only way they can do that right now is through preferencing bastardry. Both have very logical reasons for doing what they are doing.

    On a broader view, I suspect many people are sick of talking about preferencing. The media has mostly been running with tactical horserace faffery, and not much policy analysis. It has been an underwhelming campaign in most respects. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Turnbull returned with a much reduced majority and nothing change in Canberra at all from a supposedly tumultuous double dissolution.

  33. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 15:04 | #33

    @totaram

    I suppose that is the secret of marketing.

    You market to what people want – but in power you deliver what the economy wants. You are judged on what you do – and the Green’s will not deliver what the majority wants – jobs, housing, increased minimum wages, and Fair Trade.

    They make the right noises (marketing) but the detail, what the Greens really think, is different.

    Example – they flag what people want – viz: “Uphold Australia’s Labour Rights” but only propose to deliver;

    ” The Greens would legislate to ensure that trade deals do not diminish Australia’s requirements for labour market testing, or as a means of circumventing safety requirements or taxation laws.”

    Unionists would want to ensure that trade deals do not diminish Australian wages or working conditions.

    Marxists would want to ensure that trade deals do not diminish the share of GDP flowing to workers.

    Another example – the Greens flag another thing people may want, viz. “Independent economic assessment”

    But they propose to deliver what the capitalists want – namely:

    “The Productivity Commission has outlined a detailed process for it to properly evaluate the costs and benefits of trade agreements. The Greens would mandate this process in legislation to ensure that the parliament is properly informed of the impact of trade deals before signing off on them.”

    Unionists would want the ACTU to commission cost and benefits analysis.

    Marxists would want trade unions themselves to develop the capacity to undertake such analysis.

    If the Greens truly supported what the people wanted, they would say that they would consult with ACTU, ACOSS, church social justice bodies “before signing off”

    See: http://greens.org.au/trade

    In earlier years the Greens were community based delivering proposals based on community consultation. They have been taken over by a new strata of spin doctors and professional candidates.

  34. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 15:05 | #34

    @totaram

    I suppose that is the secret of marketing.

    You market to what people want – but in power you deliver what the economy wants. You are judged on what you do – and the Green’s will not deliver what the majority wants – jobs, housing, increased minimum wages, and Fair Trade.

    They make the right noises (marketing) but the detail, what the Greens really think, is different.

    Example – they flag what people want – viz: “Uphold Australia’s Labour Rights” but only propose to deliver;

    ” The Greens would legislate to ensure that trade deals do not diminish Australia’s requirements for labour market testing, or as a means of circumventing safety requirements or taxation laws.”

    Unionists would want to ensure that trade deals do not diminish Australian wages or working conditions.

    Marxists would want to ensure that trade deals do not diminish the share of GDP flowing to workers.

    Another example – the Greens flag another thing people may want, viz. “Independent economic assessment”

    But they propose to deliver what the capitalists want – namely:

    “The Productivity Commission has outlined a detailed process for it to properly evaluate the costs and benefits of trade agreements. The Greens would mandate this process in legislation to ensure that the parliament is properly informed of the impact of trade deals before signing off on them.”

    Unionists would want the ACTU to commission cost and benefits analysis.

    Marxists would want trade unions themselves to develop the capacity to undertake such analysis.

    If the Greens truly supported what the people wanted, they would say that they would consult with ACTU, ACOSS, church social justice bodies “before signing off”

    See: http://greens.org.au/trade

    In earlier years the Greens were community based delivering proposals based on community consultation. They have been taken over by a new strata of spin doctors and professional candidates.

  35. Winston
    June 20th, 2016 at 16:00 | #35

    @Pete Moran

    I was going to say something similar, but economically the ALP are quite a bit right (basically, neoliberals with a social conscience). There’s an overview of the parties here:

  36. Warren Ross
    June 20th, 2016 at 16:25 | #36

    @Newtownian
    Great reply. Loved the mild Colonial Boy. The Greens also has strong appeal to people with no sense of a class battle. They are in it for the environment. Good but as long as people have to graft for a living, the environment will run second.

  37. Paul Norton
    June 20th, 2016 at 18:37 | #37

    Bron @25:

    A rapprochement between Labor and the Greens won’t happen, for four reasons.

    1. For those people and policies where they reasonably close philosophically, the narcissism of small differences trumps everything.

    2. There are Labor people who are much closer to the LNP than they are to the Greens, such as Michael Danby the member for Melbourne Ports, who has gone on a frolic of his own and preferenced the Liberals ahead of the Greens, for ideological reasons. And then there’s the still very powerful the SDA wing of the Labor Party, for whom the Greens (read: communists), are the devil incarnate.

    3. There are Greens people, especially in NSW, who are far left, not centre-left, and who take the traditional far left view of the Labor Party, that is, one of visceral hatred and contempt.

    4. Labor and the Greens are competing for the same voters and the same seats. It’s hard to be friendly with someone who is trying to take your job.

    In relation to 1, whether the narcissism of small differences trumps everything is partly a function of the overall relationship between two parties/groups. Plibersek and Di Natale combining to produce Denticare is a non-trivial counter-example.

    In relation to 2, the question is how influential such Labor people are within the Labor Party overall, and how their fortunes might fluctuate in a situation where Labor found it necessary or expedient to cooperate with the Greens. On the other side of the ledger there are progressive currents in Labor who, for quite different reasons, are not enthusiastic about a friendlier relationship between the two parties; Albo, Penny Wong and Daniel Andrews are examples of progressive but Greens-unfriendly Labor people.

    In relation to 3, I think the issue of anti-Labor sectarianism by some Greens is more complex than the role of far left people in the Greens. JQ touched on some dimensions of this is the OP.

    In relation to 4, as someone who has been involved in various movements for left renewal and/or new politics forces for over 30 years, I can say frankly that none of us really expected the situation we now see where Greens and progressive Labor are contending for the same seats in inner-urban areas, and so none of us were ready to respond constructively when it eventuated. I would also agree that this is a massive complicating factor in the Greens/Labor relationship. However I think that this is a reason (among many) to put the issue of electoral reform based on proportional representation on the agenda.

    There is more I could say but the family are summoning me to dinner.

  38. Paul Norton
    June 20th, 2016 at 19:05 | #38

    And to post-prandially complete my response to [email protected], partly for the reasons that JQ outlined in the OP I believe it is rational for the Greens and Labor to reach agreement on some forms of cooperation, and self-destructive for either party, or both parties, if either or both refuse to do so. As that well-known Marxist Abba Eban said, people act rationally once they have exhausted the alternatives.

  39. paul walter
    June 20th, 2016 at 19:56 | #39

    Thanks to Paul Norton for retreiving the thread and moving it to the next stage. The Di Natale Plibersek example cliched it and it is worth remembering that the ALP and Greens have cooperated quite often on approaches to issues in parliament.

    Just on that last posting, it has been incredible the sort of misconceptions Greens and Laborites have about each other, as revealed in many comments lately: some of this stuff is out of the Ark.

  40. Lt. Fred
    June 20th, 2016 at 20:47 | #40

    @Ivor
    There’s nothing really to this either. The Greens obviously don’t have a huge advertising budget, the benefits of incumbency or rusted on voters. Nonetheless, their actual policy looked at seriously on its merits is basically wildly popular and objectively superior on the merits in virtually every case to Labor. This is not a matter of opinion.

    {” The Greens would legislate to ensure that trade deals do not diminish Australia’s requirements for labour market testing, or as a means of circumventing safety requirements or taxation laws.”
    Unionists would want to ensure that trade deals do not diminish Australian wages or working conditions.}

    By contrast, Labor would … enthusiastically support the TPP (et al) without conditions. Labor failed even to entirely undo workchoices, despite Green demands (Adam Bandt, mostly).

    {“The Productivity Commission has outlined a detailed process for it to properly evaluate the costs and benefits of trade agreements. The Greens would mandate this process in legislation to ensure that the parliament is properly informed of the impact of trade deals before signing off on them.”
    Unionists would want the ACTU to commission cost and benefits analysis.}

    By contrast … Labor enthusiastically supports free trade agreements without any modelling whatsoever.

  41. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 21:25 | #41

    @Lt. Fred

    Labor supports free trade because those opposing free trade, for the right reasons, have been split off from the main game foe their own self-serving motives.

    There is no point pointing at the ALP to justify sectarian “pc” outfits when it is the sectarianism that produces the outcome they point to.

    You would hope that the Greens would have a policy to at least stabilise CO2 levels which:

    … would require roughly an immediate roughly 50 percent cut in emissions, at which point the remaining emissions would be fully offset by the sinks, at least for a while.

    [Scripps Statement: Here ]

    or negotiate this with a majority in the two houses of Parliament.

    But instead they want to:

    Fund research on Adaption to Climate Change

    Plan for rising seas

    Putting a levy on Coal Exports

    Whatever the concerns of Green rank-and-file may be for Climate Change, they do not appear to have got much in the Green Election Policies.

    What we need is a firm policy for the globe to reduce carbon emissions by 50% immediately, not opportunist careerists climbing up capo-Green greasy poles.

  42. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 21:26 | #42

    @Lt. Fred

    Labor supports free trade because those opposing free trade, for the right reasons, have been split off from the main game foe their own self-serving motives.

    There is no point pointing at the ALP to justify sectarian “pc” outfits when it is the sectarianism that produces the outcome they point to.

    You would hope that the Greens would have a policy to at least stabilise CO2 levels which:

    … would require roughly an immediate roughly 50 percent cut in emissions, at which point the remaining emissions would be fully offset by the sinks, at least for a while.

    [Scripps Statement: Here ]

    or negotiate this with a majority in the two houses of Parliament.

    But instead they want to:

    Fund research on Adaption to Climate Change

    Plan for rising seas

    Putting a levy on Coal Exports

    Whatever the concerns of Green rank-and-file may be for Climate Change, they do not appear to have got much in the Green Election Policies.

    What we need is a firm policy for the globe to reduce carbon emissions by 50% immediately, not opportunist careerists climbing up capo-Green greasy poles.

  43. Tim Macknay
    June 20th, 2016 at 23:03 | #43

    @Ivor
    At this juncture it might be seen by some as churlish to point out that the Greens, whatever their other virtues may be, would lack the capacity to legislate for the entire globe even if they held every seat in the Federal Parliament, and also that even if global greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced (a highly desirable development) there is still enough warming already locked into the system that it will be necessary to plan for sea level rises and for adaptation to climatic change.

  44. Lt. Fred
    June 20th, 2016 at 23:15 | #44

    “Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions within a generation.”

    “An equitable transition to a net zero carbon economy through a range of market-based and regulatory mechanisms including a strong, effective price on carbon.”

    http://greens.org.au/policies/climate-change-energy

  45. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 23:37 | #45

    @Lt. Fred

    Unfortunately you have cited what the Greens rank-and-file want NOT what their leaders are proposing for the current election which is here:

    AUSTRALIAN GREENS Standing up for what matters. Election 2016

    What matters is what their candidates intend to implement. Presumably a real commitment to a strong, effective price on carbon should be a commitment for parliamentary representatives as well as the rank and file??

    Maybe at some future election, they may focus on zero or net negative emissions. It will probably be too late, given four year terms and they will not have had any influence where it matters.

  46. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 23:38 | #46

    @Lt. Fred

    Unfortunately you have cited what the Greens rank-and-file want NOT what their leaders are proposing for the current election which is here:

    AUSTRALIAN GREENS Standing up for what matters. Election 2016

    What matters is what their candidates intend to implement. Presumably a real commitment to a strong, effective price on carbon should be a commitment for parliamentary representatives as well as the rank and file??

    Maybe at some future election, they may focus on zero or net negative emissions. It will probably be too late, given four year terms and they will not have had any influence where it matters.

  47. Ivor
    June 20th, 2016 at 23:51 | #47

    @Tim Macknay

    Not churlish – just a deliberate misconstruction.

  48. Nick
    June 21st, 2016 at 02:15 | #48

    Ivor, thanks for the link to the Greens 2016 election platform. Under their Renew Australia initiative, you can “Download Our Plan”:

    http://greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/2015_11_Renew_Australia.pdf

    The sections “Pollution Standards for Coal-Fired Power Station”, and “Putting a Price Back On Pollution” might be of interest to you.

    The “Pollution Intensity Standards” and proposed state-by-state closure schedules for coal power stations are also worth a read.

  49. Paul Norton
    June 21st, 2016 at 07:13 | #49

    There is a lag of about three or four decades between the additions of greehouse gases to the global carbon cycle and their effects on the global climate system. There are also significant feedback effects that take some decades to emerge. Therefore there is over half a degree Celsius of warming still to come even if GHG emissions were cut immediately on the scale that Ivor advocates (which I agree is necessary). Hence adaptation (including to sea level rises) has to be part of the response.

  50. Lt. Fred
    June 21st, 2016 at 08:01 | #50

    @Ivor
    No, that’s an official policy document. The election handbook would be a easy-to-read version of same, but mine is the official version that went through national council.

  51. Ivor
    June 21st, 2016 at 08:50 | #51

    @Lt. Fred

    Yes, that is my point.

    The rank and file make policy for “National Council”. Stamping it official does not help.

    Candidates run on something else – based on the evidence I pointed to.

    Elected representatives then do whatever suits their “parliamentary party room”.

    This is also a problem in the ALP. The skills to be a candidate are very different to the skills needed to serve in Parliament.

    The Greens would be much better off getting their “National Council” policy as part of ALP policy with appropriate policy links with the ACTU and ACOSS interests.

    I see nothing in the Greens policy that is not acceptable to the Greens in the ALP.

    While the Greens want ““Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions within a generation” ths only political party proposing this as an election commitment – and therefore as something that can be pursued with vigor in the Party Room is the ALP.

    See Net Zero 2050

    There is also a reduction target for 2030 – a waypoint. Check the link.

    The Greens make noise and splits the movement – the ALP makes progress and moves the community.

  52. Ivor
    June 21st, 2016 at 08:50 | #52

    @Lt. Fred
    Yes, that is my point.

    The rank and file make policy for “National Council”. Stamping it official does not help.

    Candidates run on something else – based on the evidence I pointed to.

    Elected representatives then do whatever suits their “parliamentary party room”.

    This is also a problem in the ALP. The skills to be a candidate are very different to the skills needed to serve in Parliament.

    The Greens would be much better off getting their “National Council” policy as part of ALP policy with appropriate policy links with the ACTU and ACOSS interests.

    I see nothing in the Greens policy that is not acceptable to the Greens in the ALP.

    While the Greens want ““Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions within a generation” ths only political party proposing this as an election commitment – and therefore as something that can be pursued with vigor in the Party Room is the ALP.

    See Net Zero 2050

    There is also a reduction target for 2030 – a waypoint. Check the link.

    The Greens make noise and splits the movement – the ALP makes progress and moves the community.

  53. Bron
    June 21st, 2016 at 10:07 | #53

    @Paul Norton

    Abba Eban also said, of Yassir Arafat, that he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. There’s more than a hint of that in Labor-Green relations.

    On electoral tactics, a relatively new development is Green strength in Liberal seats that Labor will never win. We’re seeing it in this electorate in the electorate of Higgins, where Kelly O’Dwyer has something of a fight on her hands against the Greens candidate. This is an electorate which is blue-ribbon Liberal against Labor, but which is full of what used to known as the doctor’s wives demographic, people who care about the environment but would never vote for the party of those beastly trade unionists. In the last Victorian state election, the Greens took the electorate of Prahran from the Liberals was decided by the last few postal votes and right until the end could have gone one of three ways.

    If Labor and the Greens came to an agreement for the Greens to lay off people like Plibersek and instead concentrate on the O’Dwyers of the world, plus the tree changer coastal electorates, that might be a strategy that could work to their mutual benefit.

  54. Moz
    June 21st, 2016 at 11:45 | #54

    distinct and significant parties of the centre-left for the foreseeable future.

    I think it’s simpler than that – The Greens are much greener than the ALP on a green-brown analysis, and that seems unlikely to go away. On other issues like torture and human rights it’s definitely a leftwing Greens vs right (or far right) ALP, but the real key to me is the green-brown one.

    You could also say it’s a purely economic difference, the ALP don’t think that planning beyond the forward budget estimates matters and the Greens do. So all this waffle about climate change that might effect the Treasury estimates in the future, they don’t care because it’s not in the forward estimates. The end.

  55. Moz
    June 21st, 2016 at 11:51 | #55

    @m0nty

    The ALP doesn’t want to be the party which can only form minority government, because they think that the public won’t cop the instability.

    That’s only true if you think The Coalition are lying every time they claim to be composed of two or three different parties. Otherwise majority government is very rare over the last few decades. I’m sure some politics geek will point out that it only happened for 28 minutes on July the 14th, 1962 🙂 As I said when Abbott promised to resign if he couldn’t form government alone “yippee… oh, he’s lying”.

    The real problem is that *Rupert* won’t cop a disobedient government, so he slams the ALP and Greens at every opportunity. I recall that the Gillard government was more productive than any of the subsequent ones as well as better economically. But you wouldn’t guess that from the Murdoch media.

  56. Paul Norton
    June 21st, 2016 at 12:26 | #56

    Bron @48, that quote by Abba Eban was about the Arabs generally.

    If Labor and the Greens came to an agreement for the Greens to lay off people like Plibersek and instead concentrate on the O’Dwyers of the world, plus the tree changer coastal electorates, that might be a strategy that could work to their mutual benefit.

    Something like that would be possible if some form of coalition agreement existed between the two parties, but it would have to involve reciprocity (i.e. Labor lays off Bandt in Melbourne, etc.). I would be happy to see such an arrangement. However, in the absence of a coalition agreement I don’t see it as something that either party would do unilaterally, nor is it something that either party has any right to ask the other to do unilaterally.

  57. Paul Norton
    June 21st, 2016 at 12:29 | #57

    However, the analogy with the Israel/Palestine situation is apt, in the sense that the situation in that part of the world would be greatly improved if the leaderships of both nations accepted that neither is going away and recognised each other’s existence

  58. tony lynch
    June 21st, 2016 at 12:48 | #58

    Lovely to see so many still enjoy paddling in the superficialities of ‘representative party democracy’ in an area of consolidating inequality and corporate power.

  59. Paul Norton
    June 21st, 2016 at 13:31 | #59
  60. Bron
    June 21st, 2016 at 14:05 | #60

    @Paul Norton

    This says Malcolm Turnbull is going to lose his seat. Not going to happen.

  61. Ikonoclast
    June 21st, 2016 at 14:12 | #61

    @tony lynch

    I agree. I made my earlier comment to stay within the rules of the post. When I criticise the limits of posts that are within the realms of personality politics and rep party politics, I get chastised. 😉

  62. Ivor
    June 21st, 2016 at 14:59 | #62

    Paul Norton:
    Here is an interesting Morgan Poll.

    Excellent info.

    This is interesting:

    Richmond (NSW): ALP (31.0%); L-NP (28.5%); Greens (27%); Others (13.5%). ALP held;

    I do not know the preferences here but it is a pure three cornered race.

  63. Nick
    June 21st, 2016 at 15:08 | #63

    @Paul Norton

    Paul, you have to wonder why Labor in 2013 would preselect a pro-war, pro-mining, anti-SSM dunderhead for increasingly green Batman…

    I’ve seen quite literally zero posters of Feeney on anyone’s house in the electorate. I’d be surprised if he manages to scrape through.

  64. Bron
    June 21st, 2016 at 16:09 | #64

    @Nick

    It’s bad luck for David Feeney that the younger generation of Green voters have been priced out of Brunswick and pushed north of Bell Street into Batman. A Labor left candidate might hold the seat, but for a Labor right machine man to do it is a big ask. It doesn’t help also that Feeney is a weak candidate who would struggle to hold Batman against the Penguin in the best of circumstances.

  65. Donald Oats
    June 21st, 2016 at 17:03 | #65

    The Greens are the only party that has consistently put the scientific evidence, of humanity’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, front and centre of the political issue of dealing with anthropogenic global warming. The ALP have blown hot and cold on it, the Democrats imploded before we could really know their views, the Liberals—epecially the theo-neo-con element—try to disown it, deny it, or bluff it, and the Nationals don’t want to admit that they are in part responsible for it in the first place, even though their constituents have much to lose from it.

    The Greens are the only party that actually puts the welfare of the asylum seekers first, and abhors the utilitarian use of their indefinite off-shore imprisonment as a deterrent. The ALP took one extreme, and when attacked by the theo-neo-cons within the Liberals, did a 180 and adopted the opposite extreme. At least with the Greens it just might be possible to find a series of solutions to different parts of the overall issue, i.e. of asylum seekers risking their lives on a perilous crossing, and the illegal and dangerous people smuggling trade all throughout the southeast Asian islands and countries. Maybe the Greens will make a complete hash of it too, but given the other two major parties think it is okay to administer indefinite imprisonment of people who have broken no law, not even an Australian law, at the point where they were intercepted, I think the Greens at least deserve a decent go at finding a humane resolution of this issue. Humane treatment of other people is surely not a left or right wing issue: it is the choice of the major political parties as to how they treat the issue, and it is the choice of the media companies (or their owners) as to how the issue is framed politically.

    The ALP are not centre-left, they are simply a little more to the left than the rump of the Liberals. Considering how many of the ALP ex-members end up in the mining sector as consultants, or the fossil fuel sector, it isn’t really true to view them as a left-wing party; they have a sizeable group who are quite neo-liberal economically, and stand strong with mining and fossil fuel industries, on the side of the employers; the left of that are centre-left or centre.

    At the end of the day though, the cold-war framing of politics as left-wing (i.e. Commies) through to right-wing (those nice blokes in suits who run things and kill Commies) is too constricting and inappropriate for our post-cold-war politics. Climate issues are seriously important now, and in simple terms no one party has a reason to shun the issue as if it doesn’t affect Australia, and Australians. Framing the political circus as lying along a single dimensional axis of left to right wing is to miss the bigger picture. If we are to make some headway in returning to a more significant and mature level of political discourse, we really need to discard the cold-war rhetoric and its simplistic framing.

    Although I believe that the Greens and the ALP could, if circumstances demanded it, form a government as a true coalition, they really do have very different political perspectives, and it would be a consummate act of leadership to forge an enduring coalition. The LNP works because the NP roll over most of the time and ask for their tummy to be tickled; the rest of the time, they win on their local issues so long as it isn’t in direct conflict with the boss party, i.e. the Liberals. A Green/ALP alliance would be a distinctly different breed from the LNP coalition. I see no reason for the Greens to back away from a political space just because it was once ALP heartland. The ALP, they have to figure out why they are losing ground and political space to the Greens, and either beat them at their own game, or start thinking in terms of coalition strategies with the Greens, without demanding that the Greens fall into place as a subservient back-end of the ALP.

    When it comes to foreign policy, I would put the ALP way ahead of the LNP. The Greens are something of an unknown quantity on that score, but I’d still rate them as way ahead of the LNP. Does anyone seriously think a Greens’ PM or Foreign Minister would speak of shirt-fronting another leader? We certainly know that the LNP have done that.

    Thinking about this election makes my head explode. Might have a lie down.

  66. paul walter
    June 21st, 2016 at 17:18 | #66

    Feeney?

    Now there is a name that conjures up all that is wrong with today’s ALP and why it is not clear of a disastrous and threatening half-mad Tory government with a toxic agenda for the future.

    I hope he is wiped as much as I hope Turnbull is wiped.

  67. Paul Norton
    June 21st, 2016 at 18:44 | #67

    Nick @58, I remember that back in the day Batman was held by Brian Howe. He was a member of the Soft Left sub-faction of the Left but he was genuinely of the Left, and was a very decent person and a very good local member and Minister. He has been succeeded by the carpetbagging pseudo-leftist Marn Ferson and now by the out and out Right of the Right creature Feeney.

  68. Nick
    June 21st, 2016 at 19:23 | #68

    @Bron @paul walter

    🙂

    @Paul Norton

    Interesting. I really should know a bit more history of the electorate I’ve been living in for 20 years now, and where my parents grew up before relocating to the country. From wiki, Brian Howe retired just before I voted for the first time…

  69. J-D
    June 21st, 2016 at 19:26 | #69

    @Donald Oats

    At the end of the day though, the cold-war framing of politics as left-wing (i.e. Commies) through to right-wing (those nice blokes in suits who run things and kill Commies) is too constricting and inappropriate for our post-cold-war politics.

    It’s odd to describe a framing as ‘cold-war’ when it has its origins in the French Revolution.

  70. Stockingrate
    June 21st, 2016 at 19:28 | #70

    The Green Concrete Party is in favour of concreting Australia through overpopulation.
    The Labor for Less Party is in favour of driving down labour rates through overpopulation.
    They should unite under the Overpopulation Party banner.

  71. John Quiggin
    June 21st, 2016 at 19:33 | #71

    @Paul Norton

    Brian Howe was indeed a decent guy and a highly effective Social Security Minister. I’ll pass over the succeeding F’s in silence.

  72. Tim Macknay
    June 22nd, 2016 at 11:09 | #72

    @Ivor

    Not churlish – just a deliberate misconstruction.

    Ivor, your habit of being rude and contradictory rather than pointing out where and why you think an interlocutor is incorrect tends to suggest that you lack a rational basis for your assertions. Why not try using civil and rational argument instead? I know you’re capable of it, because you do actually do it occasionally – just far too rarely. Rudeness and contrariness is not only unpersuasive, but comes across as rather juvenile, to be blunt.

  73. Ivor
    June 22nd, 2016 at 21:46 | #73

    @Tim Macknay

    Are you suggesting that anyone proposed that the Greens intended to legislate for the entire globe?

    How was this not a misconstruction?

    Setting off some other scare is beside the point.

  74. Martin Spalding
    June 23rd, 2016 at 08:38 | #74

    @Ivor, you seem to be suggesting throughout this thread that there is no point expressing or representing views outside the duopoly (as they are not the majority’s views or are somehow a protest vote or ‘marketing exercise’ or something). The Greens, like any third party or independent, are allowed to capture a niche and that is part of democracy in most places.

    The Greens are entitled to stand for a ‘green’ position, esp when Labor continues to be influenced by highly ‘brown’ candidates.

  75. Tim Macknay
    June 23rd, 2016 at 11:44 | #75

    @Ivor
    You linked to an article discussing the need for a large drop in global emissions, and then stated (I quote) “What we need is a firm policy for the globe to reduce carbon emissions by 50% immediately”. Clearly, such a global policy cannot be implemented by the Australian Parliament – it requires international cooperation. And yet the context of the discussion was the policy positions of Australian political parties in an Australian election. So no, I don’t think it was a misconstruction.

    I have no idea what you mean by “setting off some other scare”.

  76. John Bentley
    June 23rd, 2016 at 12:12 | #76

    My personal thoughts on this one JQ are that Oz politics will only improve after and only after we can stop talking about left, right and centre and start talking about neoliberal and non-neoliberal. The Greens, the Labs and the COALition are all neoliberal so all you’re getting is neoliberalism with a different flavour.

    Cheers

  77. Tom Swann
    June 23rd, 2016 at 21:38 | #77

    Should ban How to Vote Cards – like in Tas, ACT, NZ.

    Make all this about preferences irrelevant.

  78. Ben
    June 23rd, 2016 at 22:01 | #78

    @Tom Swann
    .. and Robson rotation on all ballots so that people wearing blindfolds can stop having to determine ballot positions.

  79. Ken Fabian
    June 24th, 2016 at 10:55 | #79

    Perhaps a “don’t know” option on ballot papers as an alternative to blank or 1,2,3 etc from top down “donkey vote”? It does appear that position on ballot papers has a statistically significant impact on votes received so there is a basis for mixing them up – just that it doesn’t even things out within any one electorate or one election.

    It looks to me that The Greens are seen as the direction a lot of disenchanted Labor voters will leak away to, therefore Labor sees them as a significant enemy, one that probably will become more mainstream and savvy over time. Of course should the duopoly actually address some of the real and significant issues that The Greens prioritise – those that the duopoly seek to marginalise, minimise and compromise – then they could be reduced to only their more extreme and unpopular policies and lose their relevance. That doesn’t look that likely to me.

    The hostility of big parts of the Mainstream Media to The Greens that exceeds that of hostility to Labor may be part of why Labor wants to difference and distance themselves – whilst continuing to rely on Green preferences (most of them a conscious voter choice, not a result of preference deals and how to vote cards if my own voting behaviour is as common as I think) and relying on the likelihood that elected Greens are still more likely to vote with Labor than with LNP.

    I don’t think any deals between them will gain either very much in the current climate so there will be a reliance on having at least some values and aims in common whilst maintaining their separate identities.

  80. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 12:49 | #80

    @Martin Spalding

    Not that there is “no point” – rather that Green policies need to be boosted inside the ALP where they can be implemented right across society.

    Real supporters of Green policies, and wanting them to be reflected in public life, should oppose the current Green Election policy.

    Currently the ALP is controlled by SDA where their membership figures are artificially boosted by dirty deals with retailers such as Coles. Having several sectarian groups shouting from the sidelines only makes matters worse.

Comments are closed.