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28 December 2015
By Matt Hrkac

Televised leaders debates: Greens want in

Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants to be included in the federal election debates leading up to the next election. So he should, I say.

Senator di Natale said the Greens presented an alternative set of policies on climate change and refugees that challenged both Labor and the Coalition.

“Absolutely, I think the time has come to include the Greens in a televised leaders debate,” the Deans Marsh-based senator said.

“When you have the level of representation that we have in the Federal Parliament with 10 senators and a presence in the House of Representative, it’s important that our view be heard.

“One of the great challenges for us is lack of awareness and a leadership debate is one of those times when there’s more focus.”

Aside from this, here is why I think that the Greens deserve to be thrown in with the 'grown ups', per se.

  • The Greens represent more than a million voters. This is compared to the five million voters who voted for the Coalition parties, and over four million who voted for the Labor Party, at the last federal election.
     
  • They have a clear and coherent set of policy positions on a whole range of issues.
     
  • They have been represented in the Australian Senate, and have had its representatives consistently elected into the senate, for more than two decades. They have also been represented in the House of Representatives for nearly two terms, likely to go onto a third following the next election. No other minor party has ever been able to achieve this.
     
  • They are represented in the lower and upper houses of many state parliaments, and have been instrumental in forming governments in Tasmania and the ACT, and have held considerable sway elsewhere holding the balance of power in many state upper houses, as well as federally in the Senate. Again, no other minor party has ever achieved this feat.
     
  • They have been instrumental in forming government at the federal level - the only minor independent non-Coalition party that has been able to achieve this feat.

So yes, if the Greens are to have considerable sway as far as government policy is concerned, and in the event that they do regain the balance of power following the next federal election, they should very well be included in the debates leading up to the election so that more people can know what they are about. A lack of knowledge of what the Greens are about being a common argument used by people who speak against them.

About the author:

Matt Hrkac is a writer and photographer based in Geelong. He has particular interests in politics, elections, social movements and the trade union movement.

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