Topic: election Oz 2007
Who can say whether the Greens have done the right thing tactically or in principle as regards the alleged split with their national parliamentary leader Bob Brown in the press today (front page no less Sydney Morning Herald)?:
We have thought deeply about this as it's this writer's vocational core business of ecology action. We decided it would take the wisdom of Solomon which we don't have but do aspire to, to know if it's a wise approach.Thus we have decided to remain agnostic about this state of affairs in the Eastern Suburbs Greens known to us for over 7 years after breaking the story here on SAM months back about the strangely very, very early preference deal to George Newhouse of pro pulp mill brand ALP:
Greens in Wentworth release their preferences very early (14th August 07)
Strange because it crueled any negotiation power over policy like opposition to the pulp mill when it counted pre approval. And isn't that what elections are supposed to be about? Policy?
This writer has an informed opinion having been the Greens candidate in Wentworth in 1998 with a humble 5% vote - at least we got the parties roughly $500 or so bond back. We are now non aligned a good 7 years now when our membership lapsed (knowingly) in 2000.
We remain agnostic because time will tell whether the green (ie ecological action) in Green will best be served by a Newhouse victory. Factors to weigh up in the moral calculation from a vocational green community media activist perspective include:
1. In our judgement Howard has a covert agenda for nuclear weapons, not just reactors. It works like this - USA pressures Iran, and maybe even invades one day. Iran may or may not declare nuclear weapon capacity. North Korea already has them. The USA seeks to boost its military industrial complex in the JK Galbraith sense by turning Australia into a link not only in it's Star Wars 'defence shield' (which doubles as a first strike pre emption device) but also with nuke weapons on 'aircraft carrier Australia'.
This is a recipe for a nuclear apocalypse via weapons proliferation, goodbye ecology, with Australia under ideological hawk Howard playing a serious role in the end of the world in shorter rather than longer term.
2. On another serious ecological policy problem Newhouse "accepts" the criminal pulp mill in Tasmania. This was always going to be the case under the pro logger/woodchipper CFMEU controlled national executive ALP policy on natural heritage me toosim of Howard. That's the price to be an endorsed candidate (Mayor Pearce now MP paid same to get endorsement for seat of Coogee after the Olympic stadium on Bondi Beach Affair of 2000). We know George having spent possibly as much time with him at interminable Council meetings for 4 years as maybe he did with his family. We know enough of his character that in his heart he supported closure of the very controversial dioxin producing Waterloo Incinerator. We noted when and when he didn't vote, how soft or sharp. He is of a certain younger generation and greener tinge but the NSW ALP is not.
3. The role of the leftish/centre ALP branches like Waverley is to deliver progressive votes to the dinosaur Big Business Right of the ALP party that could never hope to get them in a naturally indepedent milieu (like State seat of Manly for so many years). This is why George and his professonal friends in the Eastern Suburbs Greens are dupes of that cyncial vandalistic ALP machine by throwing in their lot with Sussex St, when they could take the truly independent road and build a true community voice. That was how I did my politics for 4 years there as Chair of the Environment Committee, ex officio co director of the Incinerator I helped close, member of the Finance Committee, and Bondi Beach Ward councillor, and also how I ended up with the numbers to be the Mayor that George did in fact become. We preferred to retire than be so harnessed, preferring freedom from Party and Local Govt hackles. Those interminable meetings. It was that rock the Greens built on with the tripling of Green Party councillor representation in Sept 1999 elections. I was the pioneer which was built in turn on my work with The Wilderness Society 92-95. But these Greens haven't learned the value of fair dinkum independence as one can read front page of the Herald today.
4. So on domestic ecological policy Newhouse is crueled and captured but trending to green personally. On covert policy he at least is no Howard barracker for nuke weapons proliferation or Iraq wars.
5. Will Wentworth help decide the government? It might but unlikely. But an early preference approval can also play a role in building momentum for a broader campaign of removal of the Howard led govt. And it's perhaps this cranking of the early momentum with the 'moral' vote of approval for Newhouse as brand ALP so far out that was important in regime change in Australia. We think the motives of the Eastern Suburbs Greens (including Rhiannon and Kaye MP as their local group) are likely ideological and narrow socialist (like faith in public ownership of everything it seems) rather than ecological in calculation. But the preferencing of Newhouse so early might well be the right one by default for the ecology.
However it would be quite foolish to think that local Green Party group are deeply motivated by ecological concerns. We didn't observe that in 6 years membership after 3 years with The Wilderness Society, the last 2 as State Campaign Coordinator leading to the election of the Carr Govt in March 1995.
To such people climate change, like forest to Carr back then, were an expedient wedge of the Liberals from the Nationals Coalition. But history tells us neither the ALP or some opportunists in the Green Party are commited to ecological sustainability. They are committed to their own political career first and foremost. That's the brutal truth, and that's why this writer got out. To save our sanity upon realising Green was not really green in 2000 in NSW.
Now it's mostly a moot point because climate change is such a scary reality everyone is coming back to the real green position of "ecology action" just as the national Green party slogan is "Green Action" pictured above. Gotta love that.
Feedback and response
A long time writer, researcher, campaigner writes:
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: Wentworth
tom you use the word 'crueled' in this piece below. methinks you
might mean corralled, which essentially means herded into an enclosure.
yours in the interest of clearer communication
ps. seems newhouse's campaign might have gone off the rails for the
moment, or so he's behaving that way (having, it seems gone to
ground). i'm not sure i'd say wentworth is a defining electorate.
it'll still be the outer metro marginals, although i suspect there'll
be a few surprises: seats considered safe will likely become marginal.
[I actually meant cruelled. But thanks for the feedback. ALP definitely
corrals their endorsed candidates but in this case it would be highly
popular for Newhouse to oppose the pulp mill and he would like to I don't doubt
it, but he can't for Tas election purposes and nasty Oconnor on the national
executive. The Waverley Council and him specifically has voted symbolically
against destruction of forests. So the ALP have in fact cruelled his natural
leanings. If he was a redneck (and there have been some ALP rednecks at
Waverley (like Norman Lee RIP, father of Ben Lee) then there would be no way
to justify the Greens preference to him.
To give Senator Kerry Nettle of The Greens her due they are punishing Turnbull in the week it counts here:
Sydney pulp mill protest at Malcolm Turnbull's office
Who: Greens Senator Kerry Nettle and Greens members and supporters
What: Sydney pulp mill protest part of day of action on pulp mill, with
protests from London to Hobart.
When: 1 PM, Saturday, November 17, 2007
Where: Office of Malcolm Turnbull, 5 Bronte Road, Bondi Junction.
For more information: Damien Lawson 0419 253 342
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: "No Pulp Mill" triangles in front of Minister for the
Help retire John Howard by volunteering to help the Greens at
Office of Greens Senator for NSW Kerry Nettle