Opinion and Analysis

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam

Victoria is the most progressive state in the country, no question about that. It has also been the most electorally successful state for the Greens in recent state and federal elections. They have held the federal seat of Melbourne since the 2010 Federal Election, added the state seat of Melbourne as well as Prahran to their lower house representation in state parliament at the 2014 State Election, and recently gained Northcote in a by-election in 2017. The party is close to gaining at least two others; Brunswick and Richmond.

However, could the fire that delivered them these significant wins be starting to smoulder?

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There was once a time when racist, divisive and discriminatory commentary would be condemned by many viewers and readers of the establishment media.

There was also a time when the racist utterings of Pauline Hanson were rightfully shunned by the same media.

Those times are long past. Now, these outfits use racist commentary as click bait to boost their readership pool.

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On the 9th of May, more than 100,000 union members and supporters took to the streets of Melbourne's CBD proclaim that the rules around workplace rights are broken and to demand that they be changed. It was the biggest mass mobilisation organised by the Australian trade union movement in more than a decade.

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Colleen Bolger, Stephen Jolly and Sue Bolton The 2018 Victorian State Election is fast approaching and candidates are being actively preselected by all of the main parties. However, it is the formation of the Victorian Socialists, which comprises of City of Yarra Councillor Stephen Jolly, City of Moreland Councillor Sue Bolton and lawyer Colleen Bolger - an unlikely alliance of Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative - to contest the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian upper house that has roused some serious attention from the Left. 

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It has become more than evident that current Federal Greens parliamentary leader Richard Di Natale is failing to make an impression on progressive voters, many of whom see him as out of touch and as a propagator to disunity within the Greens. It isn't just soft Labor-Greens voters, people who once were warm to the Greens; people who are within the Greens are also scratching their heads over some of Di Natale's decisions, as are people further to the Left who would otherwise sympathise with the Greens.

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The Batman by-election, triggered by the resignation of often controversial, often clumsy Labor MP David Feeney over doubts about his citizenship status and eligibility to sit in Parliament, was an election that pitted Labor and the Greens against each other in a two way contest. For the Greens, it was a question as to whether the party could cement its status as a significant political force in the once safe Labor strongholds in the inner city of Melbourne. It was also a test for Labor and whether they could potentially hold off the Greens, or whether these once safe seats falling to the Greens is an eventual inevitability.

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Back in June of this year, I remarked that if the Federal Greens Party Room expelled NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon from sitting in the Federal Greens party room, that it would spell the end of radical grassroots leftist politics within the Greens. That did not eventuate, but it wound culminate in a preselection contest between Rhiannon and soft-left contender (who was backed by the centrists and other careerists within the party) NSW MLC Mehreen Faruqi. Make no mistake, despite Faruqi's own political brand, and the fact that a number of her supporters talk her up as being "just as left-wing" as Rhiannon, it does spell the end of the Greens being the radical political party it was founded as, as the party as a whole chases the middle ground in the name of being respectable and electable.

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The ever widening gap between the wealthiest and poorest in our society, the impending global catastrophe that is human induced climate change, and growing social and economic inequality are products of the current system; that being, capitalism and neoliberalism. That is why it simply isn't just enough to reform the system as most social democrats within both Labor and the Greens advocate to a certain degree; the system needs to be replaced.

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We are seeing it happen again: One Nation is outpolling the Greens, according to the latest Newspoll. Not only this, but they are outpolling the Greens by their widest margin yet. Yes, this is the same One Nation of that is chastised for possible electoral fraud. The same One Nation that is being investigated by the Australian Electoral Commission for not declaring donations made to it. The same One Nation whose candidates and representatives consistently distorts the truth, and merely only pretend to stand up for everyday Australians.

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There is no denying it. Unemployment is a social burden, and a major driver of inequality in our society. There are a few countries now flirting with the idea of giving everyone cash payments with no obligations as one way of resolving this. The Greens platform advocates for a UBI, and it’s time for our Government to seriously look at the idea as well.

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