Opinion and Analysis

Once again the Greens, and the experts for the matter, are correctly pointing out that the frequency of extreme weather events are linked to the climate crisis; and once again, conservative commentators are jumping over themselves outrage to lash out at the Greens insensitive.

However, the Greens are absolutely spot on to be linking the increased severity of bushfires and other weather events with anthropogenic climate change; and they should continue to shout this fact from the rooftops regardless of how 'insensitive' it may sound.

While it its true that bushfires occur relatively frequently in Australia within the context of human lifetimes (occurring often enough that plants in the areas most prone to bushfire activity have adapted to survive fires, while others still have evolved to require fire to germinate) - they were never as frequent or as extreme as they have been in recent years. Severe bushfire events were once a rarity.

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The Morrison Government, emboldened by what was deemed to be an unexpected election win in May, as well as the controversy surrounding Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) Construction and General Division Secretary John Setka, has recently reintroduced the union-busting (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill, into Parliament; and it represents the biggest attack against unions and workers' rights and conditions since WorkChoices, introduced in 2006 by the federal government led by John Howard.

This same bill was rightly knocked dead in the previous term thanks to a Senate crossbench, amenable to the rights of unions to exist, holding the balance of power. However, following the May 18 Federal Election, the Senate is a lot more friendly to pro-business and anti-union, anti-worker interests. The Ensuring Integrity legislation was introduced to the House of Representatives, where it passed. While this was to be expected, it is noteworthy that Centre Alliance’s MP for the seat of Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, voted in favour of the bill. This is because Centre Alliance hold two Senate seats.

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The topic of wind turbines has been popping up in the news lately. The same arguments we’ve all heard before - “they’re a blight on the landscape”, they’re “dark satanic mills of the modern era”, they’re 'merciless bird killers'. Of course, these arguments against wind-farms are made by right-wing pro-fossil fuel interests; but now the Greens are jumping on this coal-laden bandwagon.

Back in July, former Greens federal parliamentary leader (turned prominent Left-baiter) Bob Brown came out in opposition to a proposed wind farm on Tasmania’s Robbin Island, saying that it could effect the “natural beauty” of the landscape and put in harms way “critically endangered birds”. He went as far as to compare the $1.6 million dollar development to the Franklin Dam, which Brown’s opposition to and campaign against in the 1980’s shot him into national prominence.

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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.

Channel 7’s Sunrise, for example, routinely give Hanson ample airtime to spout her dangerous rhetoric — free of any sort of criticism by the show’s hosts or condemnation by the public.

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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. 

The Victorian Socialists may be the 'new kids on the block' (albeit comprising of long established organisations), but they have caught the imagination of both traditional Labor supporters and Greens supporters alike like no other formation has and it has also drawn in a number of Left-wing independents and trade unionists into the fold as well. Within just a few days of the group publicly announcing its formation and intention to register as a political party, it got the required 500 members. This was achieved with minimal mainstream media coverage and was largely driven by social media. The fledgling organisation now has over 800 members and it has filed its paperwork with the Victorian Electoral Commission to formerly register as a political party.

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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.

This by-election told us that Labor, with the right combination of candidate and policy, can hold off the Greens. Though despite their win in Batman, Labor are still far more pessimistic about their long-term fortunes in these electorates, as one Labor source told me: "Ged Kearney has bought us a term, maybe two at most, in Batman. As house prices rise, the old working class is gradually being replaced by a wealthier younger demographic, people who's parents voted Liberal, who are economically liberal but socially progressive; they care about refugees and environment but the base economic concerns that working class people face don't really register with these voters. If Malcolm Turnbull was running the Liberal Party how he wanted to, or if the Greens didn't exist: these voters would probably vote Liberal".

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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.

The Greens, by contrast, are almost perfectly and seemingly clean; at least on the surface, anyway. So much so they go to great lengths to ensure that they can't possibly be portrayed in a negative light in a way that they can't defend their way out of - to the point that they'll even water down potentially controversial (read: radical) platform positions to avoid negative media attention. Yes, One Nation, the Russel Coight of Australian politics, the party where "if something can go wrong with it, it will"; is outpolling the Greens (sorry, I don't have a suitable analogy here); a party that goes to great lengths to keep out of any sort of trouble.

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