Enough of the recriminations; time for some honest analysis

March 28, 2011

Now that the 2011 NSW State Election is over and the last votes are being counted, maybe it’s time for the ALP to start looking at where they went wrong and consider how they can move forward into a new era of doing politics differently.

Instead of that, it seems that this party is blaming The Greens for the failure of some of their members to retain their seats, due to the fact that The Greens did not recommend preferences to them on our how-to-votes (HTVs). Take Monaro for example.

Preference decisions are made by the grassroots membership of The Greens, and require consultation with all the groups involved in the campaign, which in the electorate of Monaro are Braidwood and Queanbeyan-Monaro Greens local groups. It’s hard to imagine how we could have in all conscience recommended to people that they put the ALP in number 2 position after The Greens on their ballot paper. Steve Whan, the ALP member for Monaro who looks like losing his seat, did a very good job in many respects, but he and his party have failed on a number of environment and social justice issues that are of utmost importance to The Greens, not to mention the local community. 

Climate change is upon us and soon will be beyond our control, yet Steve and his party support increased coal-mining. The Greens want to see an end to this industry by 2036 and in the meantime, much-needed investment in renewables such as wind, solar and geothermal, creating thousands of jobs in the process.

In 1995 the ALP, under Bob Carr, promised to end native forest wood-chipping. This activity has only increased under Labor, to the point that at least 90% of timber logged in SE NSW and East Gippsland ends up in the Eden chipmill. This industry is already heavily subsidised by the tax-payer but now that that the price of chips is so low, Forests NSW et al have come up with a brilliant new plan for our native forests – to burn them to create so-called “green energy”. This plan is supported by not only Steve Whan bit also Mike Kelly, the member for the Federal seat of Eden-Monaro, and it will devastate our remaining native forests.

And on a more local note, Steve Whan has expressed on a number of occasions his support for Cortona’s Dargues Reef goldmine at Majors Creek, despite community opposition and concerns expressed by key government departments in relation to water issues. At risk are not only the identified threatened species but the orchard industry of Araluen which provides fulltime and seasonal employment. The council and communities of Eurobodalla are also deeply concerned, given that the catchment provides a major part of the Eurobodalla water supply.

Steve Whan’s justification for his support of the mine is that it will create jobs. Maybe there will be a small amount of employment in it for local people, but most of the jobs will go to highly trained people from elsewhere. But what about the jobs that will be lost if the water system is adversely affected? 

The ALP was clearly on its way out and for good reason. I am not the only one to suggest it is essential that the party undertake a long and thorough process of self-examination and a re-focus on its core values.

It is not up to The Greens to prop up the ALP. In recent times it has shown itself at one time or another to be morally bankrupt, riddled with corruption and overcome by faction-fighting, and it is increasingly hard to distinguish the ALP from the Libs/Nats now on almost all issues including some key environmental ones.

It is true that in the past we have recommended preferences to the ALP, on the basis that it is has been closer than the Coalition to The Greens on some policy points. But in my opinion, for us to have recommended preferences to the ALP at this time would have been utterly appalling and only confirm in the minds of some people that we are just a branch of the ALP. This party did not deserve our support at the 2011 State Election and nor should it have expected it. Furthermore, it is likely that a decison to state a preference for the ALP would have resulted in a much-reduced primary vote for The Greens, including in the Upper House, as a result of voter disgust.

Right now we should be very worried about what is going to happen in the Upper House, where Coalition legislation is likely to be able to pass through with a mere whiff of Christian Democrat support. And as I write this, the votes are being entered into the system to calculate who will be elected to the Upper House – Greens Jeremy Buckingham, or Pauline Hanson.

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