Tag Archives: The Greens

News That’s Fit To Punt – 28/Jun/2012

Don’t Cry If You’re Not Going To Fix It, Lady

If yesterday was a day we learned why the Coalition was full of shit, then today was a day to understand why we can’t trust the Greens in the least bit. After all that good will was marshaled by the independents to put through the Oakeshott bill through the Lower House yesterday, giving some hope that something could be done. Yet today we find that political cynicism triumphs such good intentions and we are left with a defeated bill, with more boats on the way and presumably more drownings to come. Well done Greens, you have managed to support the Coalition with your balance of power. What’s really curious is this bit:

Senator Hanson-Young called on the government to have urgent talks with Indonesia and to give funds directly to the UNHCR, Indonesia and Malaysia to make people safer ”in their ports”.

The senator choked up when she recalled the plight of refugee “Hussein” and his long and dangerous journey to reach Australia.

“These are the lives of the people we are playing with,” she said.
“This bill does nothing to protect Hussein”.

Excuse me Ms. Hanson-Young but it does protect Mr. Hussein if it deters him from getting on that boat. That choice and the attendant risks of getting on to a leaky boat rests entirely with Mr. Hussein. The government’s argument is that if getting on the boat is futile because you end up back in Malaysia, then it serves to protect Mr. Hussein from himself and from making a particularly stupid and desperate mistake – and after all is said and done, this is what is being discussed. So if you can’t understand that, then I can’t seriously support a party that places you in a position where you grandstand and then scuttle this deal.

As Senator Xenophon so eloquently put it, the stench of compromise is not going to be as bad as the stench of death. The Greens chose death on their High Road. I don’t know how they can live with themselves, but surely hypocrisy is now a national game that everybody’s going to play.

But please, spare us your undignified crocodile tears. If you won’t take a hit to save lives, then you’re not in a position to lecture us from your stupid High Road you imagine you are on; You may as well fuck off into the night of history, you stupid, stupid cow.

One Win For Kim Dotcom

Here’s an interesting moment happening over the ditch.

A New Zealand High Court judge has ruled that police search warrants used to seize property from Megaupload’s founder Kim Dotcom were illegal.

Justice Helen Winkelmann found that the warrants used did not properly describe the offences to which they were related.

Kim Dotcom was arrested in January when the FBI shut down his fire-sharing website aming claims it had cost copyright holders more than $US500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content.
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The FBI agents had been accused of underhanded behaviour by Dotcom’s lawyers in the High Court after they secretly copied data from his computers and took it overseas.

Justice Winkelmann has also ruled it was unlawful for copies of Dotcom’s computer data to be taken offshore.

She ordered that no more items taken in the raids could be removed from New Zealand, and instructed the attorney-general to return clones of the hard drives held by New Zealand police.

Wow. Take that, FBI! So it seems one cannot simply say, ‘copyright infringement’ and then confiscate computers, at least in New Zealand. Very interesting development.

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Politics Of Weird

When The Going Gets Weird, The Weird Turn Pro

That’s of course according to the late Hunter S. Thompson. Today, billionaire coal magnate Clive Palmer accused the Greens and Greenpeace of being funded by the CIA via the Rockefeller Foundation.

While brandishing a copy of the report this afternoon, Mr Palmer said it was the result of a CIA conspiracy involving the US-based Rockefeller Foundation.
“This is funded by the CIA,” he said.
“You only have to go back and read … the report to the US Congress that sets up the Rockefeller Foundation as a conduit of CIA funding.
“You only have to look at the secret budget which was passed by Congress last year – bigger than our whole national economy – with the CIA to ensure that.
“You only have to read the reports to US Congress where the CIA reported to the president that their role was to ensure the US competitive advantage – that’s how you know it’s funded by the CIA.”

The Greens and Greenpeace both denied these outlandish allegations vigorously. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t credit it all given that it’s coming from Clive Palmer’s paranoid little mind, but they had to defend it because well, Clive’s sort of in politics advising Campbell Newman. One imagines that is a bit like being advised by your paranoid conspiracy theorist super-wealthy uncle. And Queensland is looking like it’s going to elect this Newman-led LNP, so all I can say is good luck with that boys & girls of Queensland!


Just for kicks I googled the document Mr. Palmer was brandishing and got this one.  I guess if one were a coal mining magnate, one would feel fear and loathing with a good dose of fury at reading it, but I just can’t find the bit where it says Rockefeller Foundation. And I sure as heck don’t know how he got the CIA out of the un-mentioned Rockefeller Foundation so colour me sceptical.As far as theories go, there are too many plausible deniability stops along the way.
Still, I found it interesting that Clive Palmer came across as so paranoid and nutty. The more he speaks in public, the more he comes across as sort of unhinged.


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Won’t Have Kristina To Dick Around Anymore

No Splintering To The Left

I have to admit that I must be pretty radical when it comes to the political spectrum. I’m not exactly a communist – far from it, but I sure as hell don’t run with the conservatives come hell or high water. Which chased me into my choice of voting Green. I don’t regret it even though in my seat, the Green candidate won’t come close to the line. The Liberal Candidate ended up with a 25% or so swing in his favour according to the election night telecast on TV. (Thanks Angela D’Amore, you are the gift that keeps on giving, like a Herpes virus).

I’m a little amused that Kerry O’Brien started off the night by saying it was going to be a bloodbath, everybody knows the result; the only question is just how much of a bloodbath. Even more amusing was the ALP colour commentator they had – Luke Foley, I think he’s called – who came across as somebody with an IQ of about 75. He had to admit it was catastrophic, the resulting devastation was going to be cataclysmic and that the ALP were going to have to do a lot of soul searching. Well, d’uh.

I guess nobody looks smart when their heads are getting beaten in; and yet even he had one reason to crow and that was that Carmel Tebbutt was likely to hold Marrickville against Fiona Byrne, and went on to bag out Fiona Byrne for being a terrible  candidate for the Greens.

Which all got me to thinking how much of the ALP vote that might have been swinging votes and traditional votes ran to the right into the arms of the Liberal and National Parties. Luke Foley was saying that the ‘Labor Heartland’ no longer exists. That might be true, and by extension this might be one of those elections that changes the state for ever. The ALP may not be able to win in NSW until well past 2020. And if the Hawke-Keating years and  the Howard years proved something, 10+years can change the culture of a place dramatically. NSW might turn into an arch-conservative state.

So where does that leave me with my radicalised environmental vote? Gagging on my recycled materials wooden spoon.

The Rush To The Right

Given the sort of miasma and nauseating whirlwind that was the Labor government of the last 4 years, it’s not surprising that the middle rushed to the right, just pull the handbrakes on the craziness. I don’t know if it’s even a rational choice given that 79% of the electorate don’t know what the Coalition’s policies are and that 65% voted them in.

The poll is at odds with predictions that the gap between the parties would narrow as voters paid more attention closer to the election. It suggests voters switched off long ago.

Asked how much they felt they knew about the Coalition’s policies, 79 per cent said they knew either ”little” or ”nothing at all”, with just 21 per cent saying they knew a lot.

Knowledge of Labor’s policies was slightly better, with 68 per cent saying they knew little or nothing and 31 per cent saying they knew a lot.

This could mean that a lot of people are going to wake up tomorrow and wonder just what the hell they’ve done but I guess it’s too late for that now. The ALP haven’t done much for the image of stability. That Karl Bitar fellow and ‘protected’ US informant Mark ‘The Mole’ Arbib have done over Morris Iemma, Nathan Rees,while doing the same Federally for Kevin Rudd and helping Julia Gillard to a hung Parliament has made the ALP a laughingstock in most conversations I’ve come across.

The unfortunate upshot is that it’s pushed a lot of people to the right, and it amazes me how unimaginative people are when it comes to their politics. Here’s the thing. I voted Greens last time too, but I preferenced ALP. If Nathan Rees was still Premier, I might have been persuaded to still vote ALP even. As soon as they dumped Rees and put in Kenneally I vowed they would not get my vote, and it’s a sentiment that’s been shared by many people I’ve spoken to. I’m amazed that most of the people who felt that way took it as a cue to vote in Barry O’Farrell, but I guess that’s the 2 party system for you.

In any case, it’s not like all is lost for the ALP faithful of NSW. It’s just a bleeding state election to kick out a tired, over-ripe, incompetent ALP government. Surely some of those who ran to vote in Barry O’Farrell will come back as prodigal votes. It’s the nature of politics.

Can The Greens Get Beyond The Marginalia Of Politics?

On the basis of tonight’s result, I think this is going to be a tougher ask than I thought. So far it’s counting about 11%. That suggests that:

  • 10 out of 11% are crackpot socialists and tree-hugging hippies and dope-smoking Newtown-ites.
  • Only the extra 1% represent the people who jumped to the left. The 20% swing to the right represent the middle.

I think 1% is an incredibly hard basis to build a platform upon when you’re already outnumbered 10 to 1 by the loonies in your own party. 13% at the Federal election was a good showing, but in closer examination, the Greens are still the party of feral-loonies, druggies, hippies the dispossessed and socialist-idiots.

By contrast, at 50% of the vote, the current crop of Coalition voters are people with desperate mortgages and the NIMBY crowd. Laura Norder didn’t even factor into it this time around.

One Final Thought About Kristina Kenneally

I’ll be flayed for writing this, but what the hell. Everything else is going down in flames.

I’m thinking that Kristina Kenneally has to represent the end of the line of that crappy brand of 1980s feminism that saw male chauvinism layered in to every text and wrote post-modern essays about gender politics in Shakespeare to Bananarama. Let’s call it, ‘Quota Feminism’ for want of a better tag. It gave us Verity Firth and Carmel Tebbutt and Angela D’Amore and Virginia Judge and Kristina Kenneally in an awful hurry.

Here’s the thing: If that line of thinking really had merit, Kenneally and company would have been more persuasive figures – And I do say this with my deepest condolences to the Po-Mo 1980s feminists I know, but the rise of Kristina Kenneally (and to some extent Julia Gillard) has got to be one of the more abstruse and disaffecting manifestations of that line of thinking.

Was it any good? Goodness, the proof sure is in the pudding tonight, isn’t it? Half the electorate ran screaming to a patriarchal-looking Barry O’Farrell. Doubtless Germaine Greer is going to write an article for The Observer over in the UK saying how this proves we’re all sexist shits in NSW, and how Kristina Kenneally was defeated by the forces of backward oppressive patriarchal men. But you see, that’s exactly where the ideological rot is at.


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Splintering To The Left, Part II

There was a time the ALP were the catch-all socially progressive party in Australia. Then they split over communism and while they stayed split, they had no chance to win government. Then they went back to being a big catch-all socially progressive party and were able to win government under Whitlam, Hawke, Keating and then Kevin Rudd. The recent development of the splintering to the left then is something that is likely to hamper the ALP’s ability to form government on its own. Peter Hartcher has this article in the SMH.

As an electoral edifice, Labor has long stood on two pillars. One is the working-class vote. The other is the progressive vote. In April last year, Labor detonated one of those pillars.

The fatal moment was when Kevin Rudd walked away from the fight on “the greatest moral and economic challenge of our time” by deferring his emissions trading scheme.

And when Gillard unseated Rudd, she moved the government further and further to the right, further and further away from its progressive voter base. Gillard cut a quick and dirty deal with the multinationals on the mining tax, promised to put asylum seekers in East Timor, and signalled a total abandonment of serious action on climate change with her “citizens’ assembly”.

A silly notion persists that Gillard is somehow on the left of Labor politics and Rudd was on the right. The truth is the opposite. Gillard was further right than Rudd on every major policy issue. That helps explain why Rudd’s lead assassins were from the Right faction and his last diehard defenders from the Left.

The result? Labor lost 676,000 primary votes at last year’s election while the Greens picked up 491,000. In other words, the Greens picked up three-quarters as many votes as Labor lost. We cannot know for certain that these were disillusioned and disgusted Labor voters going across to the Greens. But it’s a pretty safe assumption that the vast bulk were.

Labor self-destructed as the party of the progressive vote. The Greens staged their best performance yet with 12 per cent of the vote and Labor’s was one of its worst.

This is all true. Hartcher then analyses the ructions in terms of moves to the left and right which are all very valid, but I then thought it actually doesn’t capture the whole problem. For instance, I’ve largely been a voter for the ALP in the Hawke-Keating years through to Kevin Rudd because it was always imperative to stop John Howard. John Howard actually represented the nastiest, meanest, smallest-minded social conservatives of this country, so at each and every election it was important to for me to vote against and vote out John Howard’s electoral support.

But over time I’ve found myself at odds with my own voting: I am a free market capitalist. I was for the GST and not against it; I’ve not really been a unionist rank-and-file kind of ALP guy, I’m not a Catholic, and I’m not really invested in Socialism. I just hated John Howard and everything he stood for – entitlement and preserving entitlement including the entitlement to be racist bigoted and mean. I still think, “well, fuck you John Howward, fuck you very much” when I cast my mind to his prime ministership, which is not very grown-up of me, but that is the visceral loathing I’ve felt. I probably loathe Tony Abbott far less than that, though I do hold him in utter contempt for his Catholic-Church-driven hyper-idiotic nonsense positions on global warming.

So, the point is, the big tent of the Australian Labor Party was always a coalition of those who didn’t like John Howard and the vestiges of White Australia Policy Squat-ocracy. To that end the ALP has knitted together the SBS demographic and the ABC demographic against the Channel Nine demographic, with the Channel Seven demographic as the swinging centre. (Channel Ten doesn’t get a vote because its audiences are under 16, but I guess they are the ‘yoof’ vote).

Ultimately the limits of the ALP is that it can’t be all things to all people in a world of very complex issues and social needs. It can’t be that Bolshy socially progressive party and cater to the Catholic DLP right faction. It can’t be totally committed to environmental policies while looking after the interests of the big end of business. It can’t be corruption-free when it takes in organised ethnic votes.

And in a world of boutique consumerism where special needs are catered for by specialist services, it is inevitable that political parties begin to splinter around the urgency of the multiple individual policy positions. That is to say, the rise of the Greens is as the boutique political party for those who put environmental concerns ahead of things like workplace policies or gay marriage. Equally, the appearance of something like the Australian Sex Party in the last federal election is an expression of a party that places sexual and gender politics ahead of say, envrionmental policies. If you poked them deeply enough (pardon the pun) one would find they’re probably about as equally progressive as one another.

It might be the case that this signals the end of the ALP as the one-party fits all progressive party in Australia, but it shouldn’t diminish it from being a broker for all these ideas and policies.

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Defrosted Politics

After The Cold War

I’ve been casting my mind back to some similar scenarios of hung parliaments. I figure it’s no coincidence that the Brown Labour Government gave way to an election that resulted in a Conservative and Lib-Dem coalition in the recent UK elections. The GFC has done some strange things to the UK electorate and this in turn has brought about an impatience with leaders as well as some knee jerk polling. In a similar way the hung parliament in Australia is indicative of a similar kind of irritation with politics itself in the electorate.

Back in the 1990s I was lucky to witness the first time the LDP were voted out of government in Japan. Rather, they couldn’t get the numbers so all the little parties formed a coalition just to keep the LDP from forming government. Thus the short-lived Hosokawa government started and went on to fail in something like 8 months. All the same it was historically meaningful to dislodge  the LDP who ha been in power for 39 years straight at the point. It also paved the way for the DPJ to emerge from the ashes of that failed coalition, so the multi-party grand coalition actually did stand for something.

A lot of this seems to do with the break up of the solid blocks of Left and Right that existed during the Cold War and now that the nuances in domestic policy became more important, it seems inevitable that other smaller parties have risen. Even the hyperactive factionalism within the ALP could be understood to be the strains of a party that actually unites a fairly disparate group of people. The Greens ca be understood as a break off from the ALP as well. The ALP has probably absorbed some of the old Democrats after their demise.

Thus it’s no surprise that Bob Katter is talking about ending the two-party system. He is part of the nuanced break up of the old Nationals, as is the friction within the Liberal Party between those who want an ETS and those who are in denial about climate change.

Anyway, the point can be made that the post-Cold War shape of politics has finally arrived in Australia – and it took the GFC to do it.

Balance Of Power?

The other thing to consider is that with the rise of the Greens as the balance of power party in the Senate, any future Coalition government is going to find the Senate a lot more hostile than at any time during the last 40 years. The mere fact that the Greens are actually on the left of the ALP means that it may actually be impossible for the Liberals and Nats to do the necessary horse-trading to get their bills past the Upper House.

This means that the the Greens aren’t holding the balance of power, but rather are being more of a ‘ballast’ of power towards the left. And by left, we mean a long long way to the left; further than is in living memory of the ALP’s own Left faction. This is interesting in that it might exert a real pressure upon the Coalition to come up with policies that at least meet the Greens somewhere.

Or it might end up being that the ALP and the Libs end up forming a workable agreement as they did with the ETS, just to work around the Greens. Working back from this problem, you start to understand why Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull worked together furiously to get the ETS sorted before this election. KRuddie and Malcolm at least had common sense enough to look into the future, and they both saw what was coming down the pike.

The Greens are going to be scary in one sense that they might just continue on as if they are a party of protest; given the nature of election, there is a lot to protest about, but even allowing for that, they have the potential to kill bills dead in the Senate.

As of this election with the Greens holding 9 seats in the Senate, all bets are off. The future of emissions trading might be a lot tougher on business than it would have been under the old ETS proposed and agreed upon by the ALP and Libs. The same thing applies for the Mining tax. That deal Julia Gillard made with the big 3 won’t be ratified by the Greens – I don’t know why Julia Gillard is talking as if her hypothetical government will have the capacity to stick to the deal it made with the Big3 prior to the election. The Greens will really want their pound of flesh, with blood. That means the miners are going to be hit with something they didn’t count on and they’re going to kook back on KRuddie’s original proposal and wonder why they opposed that one so vehemently.

The money they spent on advertising, killing Kevin Rudd’s government has ended up with this hung Parliament with the Greens holding the Balance. The joke’s on them already. I’m laughing, literally, at their expense.

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Emissions Tirading

Malcolm Turnbull’s Column

Here’s something in the SMH from deposed Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull.

At their core, these bills are as much the work of John Howard as of Kevin Rudd. We, as Liberals, believed in the superior efficiency of the free market to set a price on carbon. The Rudd government’s approach has broadly embodied the same principles, although there were problems with its initial design. But extensive modifications made in May and November made it a scheme that appropriately balances environmental effectiveness and economic responsibility.

Alternatives such as direct regulation or subsidies will be far more costly. Under a market-based mechanism, like an ETS, there is a clear, transparent and immediate incentive encouraging investment in lower emission technology.

Industries and businesses, attended by an army of lobbyists, are particularly persuasive and all too effective at getting their sticky fingers into the taxpayer’s pocket. Having the government pick projects for subsidy is a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale. Having the government pay for emissions abatement, as opposed to the polluting industries themselves, is a slippery slope to higher taxes and more costly and less effective abatement of emissions.

Most large emitters have committed to substantial reductions over the next decade. Many have already acted. The EU has had an ETS since 2005. China has committed to a 45 per cent reduction in emissions per unit of output by 2020. Japan has pursued lower emissions and higher energy efficiency for three decades. Our commitment is equivalent to a 21 per cent reduction.

The notion that this ETS would put Australia in front of the world is, sadly, completely wrong. We start way behind because our per capita emissions are so large, because our sources of energy are so overwhelmingly dependent on burning coal. This legislation is the only policy on offer which can credibly enable us to meet our commitment and the flexibility to move to higher cuts when warranted.

The ETS is far more in the great traditions of modern liberalism than any other available policy response.

I’m not a big fan of the ETS as proposed by the Howard Government or taken up by the Rudd Government.It doesn’t aim high enough, it doesn’t do enough, it hands out too many freebies to polluters and so on.

Thus, it is high time the government did set up a framework for setting the dollar value for carbon emissions. Even if flawed, the ETS that got negotiated between Labor and the Liberals under Malcolm urnbull represents the best compromise possible given the divergence of views.

It is stunning to note that the Greens would not negotiate to pass the ETS on the grounds it would be ineffective; which is the same kind of logic as killing the mongoloid baby because it’s not perfect. I understand the ETS is flawed, but not having anything is even worse, and this is exactly where the Greens have delivered the discourse.

In the mean time, the ignorant heartland of the Nationals and the highly misguided yet motivated idiots of the Liberal Right have scuttled the deal from the far right side, you would think the Greens would at least re-consider the position rather than continue to grandstand by not negotiating, and thus let nothing happen. It begs the point of what exactly they are in the Senate to do. One would have thought the point of the Greens would have been to be in the thick of designing a good policy for the environment.

We know the point of the Tony Abbott leadership is to scuttle the ETS once again and go to the polls with the Climate Change denial as platform. Therefore it is ethically incumbent upon the Greens to show a bit of gumption and maturity and negotiate the passage of the ETS through the Senate. It’s time to live up to their name instead of their ideals. Politics after all, is about the possible. This may be the issue that kills the Greens, much as passing the GST killed the Democrats.

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