Greens Senators become Bernie (Sanders)-esque
Matt Hrkac 11 October 2016 Return to Index

For those out of the loop - the Coalition are planning on pushing through legislation to cut taxes to high-income earners, funded off the back of cutbacks to our social services. This, has Labor's support. Naturally, this leaves the Greens the only significant party to oppose this ridiculousness. But, there was something different, albeit familiar, in the style of delivery as far as delivery from our Greens Senators was concerned.

First up, Greens leader Richard Di Natale:

"The tax data shows us, that these tax cuts will go to the top 20% of income earners. Let's again make that clear: 80% of people miss out, the top 20% of income earners will benefit from this tax cut."

It is kind of reminiscent of the "top tenth of one percent own as much wealth as the bottom 90%" spiel famously delivered and referred to consistently by Bernie Sanders during his US Presidential Primary campaign. Of course, this style and focus by our Greens representatives isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is a good thing.

But that isn't the only part of Richard's speech reminiscent of Bernie Sanders' overall style, to tie into the second part of the phrase, he reaches out to the middle class, which as those who followed Bernie Sanders' US Presidential campaign would know, was also a cornerstone theme of Sanders' campaign:

"The top 20% of income earners will get a tax cut, while real, middle-class, ordinary, average Australians will miss out."

Richard goes further:

"4 billion dollars in lost revenue, at a time when we are being told that we can't afford to fund healthcare, when we can't afford to fund our schools, when we can't afford to fund vital social services."

"We don't support it as it makes income inequality worse, at a time when it is one of the great challenges that lies before us, as a nation."

Of course, this didn't stop with Richard Di Natale. Fellow Greens Senator, Peter Whish-Wilson has also been a vocal critic against this proposed tax cut.

Of course, Peter had the chance to deliver a speech on this legislation before the Senate, too, and delivers he does. He goes largely on the same themes that Richard did in his speech, targeting the need to tackle the growing inequality, reaching out to lower-income earners, and goes further to attack, rightfully, the utter absurdity of trickle-down economic theory (which is also reminiscent of Bernie Sanders' shtick):

"History shows us that the wealthiest Australians don't tend to redirect their new found tax cuts into more consumption. Instead, they increase savings, or they plow into tax advantage investment vehicles like superannuation, or negatively-geared investment properties. There is an active, and growing, consensus around the world that the trickle-down theory should be expunged and never again exhumed."

He then follows this up by reaching out to those who are disillusioned and let down by the business-as-usual politics. He even, rightly, ties the rise of radical political movements around the world to growing inequality and the reluctance of legislators to tackle it:

"People are feeling like they have been left behind. They're feeling as if they've been ignored by their political system and their politicians; because the gains, the spoils of our economic system across decades of globalisation have not been shared evenly. That is why we seeing some radical political movements around the world and that is actually what we need to act on.

Our entire political system is now under challenge because of rising inequality, and our inability to tackle this."

I'd say that this is absolutely spot on here.

In fact, I'd say that both Richard and Peter are absolutely spot on here, and I hope to see more of this style of delivery and focus from our Greens representatives going forward.

About the Author:

Matt has a keen interest in politics, elections and progressive activism, and has had extensive involvement in a number of campaigns in his hometown of Geelong, in regional Victoria. He has also worked with a number of elected representatives and election candidates. He is a former member of the Australian Greens, and was Secretary of the Geelong Greens Branch.
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