Welcome to Quadrant Online | Login/ Register Cart (0) $0 View Cart
Menu
February 19th 2013 print

Steve Kates

From faux marriage to sham divorce

That rift between the Greens and Labor you have been hearing about? Big deal. Fact is, with the former partners looking to an election and the need to solidify their bases, this divorce is as steeped in opportunism as the marriage that preceded it


What a laughable story that the Greens and Labor have just had a parting of the ways. This is the start of the story in The Australian:

GREENS Leader Christine Milne says Labor has effectively walked away from its minority government alliance with the Greens, and the minor party will operate ‘beyond the agreement’ for the remainder of the current parliament.


Yeah, sure, walked away.

Under Gillard, so far as policy is concerned, the ALP has been blended into the Greens. Gillard is, in fact, a Green and would have been where Milne now is had things been a bit different in 1995. If there is a difference of any significance on anything, I cannot think what it has been. Global warming, the mining industry, logging, growth, border protection, foreign policy, public spending, taxation — you name it, we have seen our first Green government in Australia. A perfect shambles, true, but that should not have been a surprise. That few have recognised the senior partner is the odd part, possibly because many journalists who might have commented are more or less indistinguishable from the Greens themselves.

This separation of convenience in the lead up to the election is necessary for both, but particularly for Labor. It must run its own race, be seen to be strong, make faces at Greens policies and try to look different. Since some Labor people are actually anti-Green – mining and forestry unions, for example – there needs to be a pretence made that the two are not actually one and the same. It is nothing more than a strategic decision to gather in the highest number of votes for each on their own and for both together.

Of course, some parts of the ALP are so lacking in any appreciation of what just took place that they have actually tried to deny it. From The Australian‘s report:

“Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said Senator Milne was only doing a bit of product differentiation.

‘We are the ones who brought in a carbon price successfully and we are the ones who have made major breakthroughs in Tassie forests and the Murray-Darling’," he said.

Exactly so. The ALP are the Greens. Take one, you’ve chosen the other. Whichever way you go, it’s the same result: you are picking exactly the right party to ruin the country and darken its future.

Steve Kates teaches economics at RMIT University. His most recent book is Free Market Economics: an Introduction for the General Reader