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August 29th 2010 print

Merv Bendle

The end of Bob Brown?

Now that Lee Rhiannon has been elected and the Greens have secured a pivotal position in the Australian political system it appears that a move may be made by the ‘entryists’ in the Greens to seize control of the party and exploit its role as a vehicle for the far-left.

Watermelon politics: Are the Greens about to turn red?

It has been revealed that the new Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, was a communist and a member of an extreme left party during his time as a student activist at Murdoch University 15 years ago. The disclosure illustrates the extent to which the Greens are serving as a parliamentary Trojan horse for the old-style far-left in Australia, which is using ‘entryism’, the classic strategy of extremist parties, to infiltrate its cadres into more mainstream parties in order to re-direct their policies in an extremist direction.

The revelation follows the election to the Senate of Greens candidate, Lee Rhiannon, the daughter of long-term Stalinists, Bill and Freda Brown. All three were leading members of the Communist Party of Australia until they all resigned in 1970/1 in a protest against the CPA’s refusal to support the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and its bloody suppression of the ‘Prague Spring’ that attempted to introduce democratic reforms in that Stalinist state. Instead they joined the Socialist Party of Australia, which continued to follow the Moscow line as it continued its crackdown on dissidents during this critical period in the Cold War. Ms Rhiannon (then O’Gorman) then edited Survey, the SPA’s journal, until it went out of business when the Soviet Union collapsed and funding for such publications disappeared. For the past eleven years she has been a member of the NSW Legislative Council, and it has been observed of her that “not much has been said by her on Green issues, but she has spent a lot of time talking about issues not dissimilar from those she campaigned for when she was an active member of the Stalinist Socialist Party.”

Her election to the Senate also raises the question of just who will shortly be leading the Greens. On election day an article in The Australian observed that “a power struggle is developing between Bob Brown loyalists and the Tasmanian Greens and the hard-left NSW party and its lead Senate candidate, Lee Rhiannon, a scion of one of Australia’s most unapologetically pro-Soviet families”. Now that Rhiannon has been elected and the Greens have secured a pivotal position in the Australian political system it appears that a move may be made by the ‘entryists’ in the Greens to seize control of the party and exploit its role as a vehicle for the far-left anti-capitalist, anti-democratic policies of a type indistinguishable from those of the old-style Stalinist left. It is therefore significant that the “NSW Greens are exempt from parts of the party constitution dealing with conduct in public office,” which may have constrained any attempt to destabilize the existing leadership and seize control of the party.

Bandt described his own hard-left political position in a paper circulated online on 4 March 1995, declaring himself for “an anti-capitalist, anti-social democratic, internationalist movement.” He identified himself as “a member of Left Alliance, the national organistaion (sic) of feminist, socialist and progressive students, in Australia. We intervene into student organiations (sic) and campaigns (sic) … We are democratic centralists, in that we are all bound by the decision of the group and our coordinating committees are then bound to carry this out. We have different tendencies in the organisation, as the name suggests, ranging from communists to radical feminists to anarchistst (sic) to social democrats.”

Addressing the question of how a party on the extreme left can best influence government policy Bandt argued in an entryist fashion as follows: “Supporting the Greens would perhaps be the most effective strategy at the next election. The Greens are in many ways bourgeois, but they have been able to exert influence over the Government’s agenda. They are all we have at the moment [and] building a ‘new’ party simply to get votes can be absurd”.

Facing a threatened leadership challenge from the similarly hard-left NSW Greens, the current Greens leader, Bob Brown, said that he supported Bandt “160 per cent” and that “there was absolutely no need for Mr Bandt to publicly distance himself from his remarks”. Bandt has however echoed his earlier views in a recent address to the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, where he also made it clear that he embraced the far-left agenda on contemporary issues, including illegal immigration and climate change eco-apocalypticism.

It may be that Brown is approaching his ‘use-by’ date, as the entryists seize their opportunity. As even Paul Howes, the National Secretary of The Australian Workers’ Union, has observed:

Unfortunately for Brown … his party is being infiltrated by many whose commitment to the environment is questionable, and who are more focused on turning the Greens into a left-wing, socialist-style party … That will mean for many voters, when they think they are casting a vote for the environment, they will, in fact, be voting for many issues that they may not support and be completely unaware of.

The Green’s have been using the slogan ‘The future is Green’ but if Rhiannon is successful, truth in advertising laws may require them to amend it to ‘The future is red’.

It is a measure of the looming threat to the Greens from the hard-left that Ms Rhiannon and Mr Bandt can even make Bob Brown look like a moderate!