Whither the Australian Greens on the rise?

Ben Courtice benj at connexus.net.au
Fri Dec 6 21:08:46 MST 2002

José wrote:
It would be good to know just how the first preference/second preference
system works. Are Socialist Alliance votes "lost" to the greens? Or is it a
case where, if the SA is eliminated as the lowest vote-getter, then those
votes "roll over" to the greens?

Ben replies: it is the latter scenario.

I agree we don't want to forego the socialist profile in elections. But your point about
non-aggression pacts is worth taking up. The problem is that the Green vote is so far
ahead of the SA vote there isn't much leverage for us. On the other hand if we run
"against" the Greens, we could actually help them with preferences. There are some people
who will vote for us but not the Greens -- unionists, some in migrant communities, etc.

I think the real way to try and engage the Greens with socialist politics is to badger
them into being involved in more grass-roots campaigns (where they aren't already), and
hopefully we will get to know and be respected by their members and activists.

To Gary's comments re the right and left wings in the Greens--did you hear that [rock
star] Peter Garrett has given up music to pursue "things which really matter" or
something? And Bob Brown has been hinting that he would love Garrett to run for the
Greens? It would be a fairly sure Senate seat for Garrett. Just what he wanted when he
split the Nuclear Disarmament Party to get rid of the Socialist electoral career liability
in 1984. Since then he has become even more opportunist in his role as Australian
Conservation Foundation bureaucrat, it seems.

On the other hand, I heard a rumour (only that, so far) that Victorian Trades Hall Council
secretary Leigh Hubbard might run for the Senate for the Greens (leaving the ALP). ETU
secretary Dean Mighell has already joined the Greens. Hubbard is not a socialist but I
think he is (relatively) on the left. But he may not be as left as we would like: although
he works well with the militant left unions, that may be related to their funding of
Trades Hall... The VTHC ran a "Vote 1 Labor" campaign in the state election, ignoring the
Greens and socialist candidates. As Stephen Jolly pointed out, it was only three days
before the ALP government dropped industrial manslaughter legislation backed by unions.
While the VTHC campaign wasn't necessarily Hubbard's (he isn't solely responsible for
decisions) I'm sure he had something to do with it. although he has been heard by a DSP
comrade to comment in the past about union donations to the ALP "what a waste" or words to
that effect. He's hard to fathom. I think he tries to be all things to all people, a sort
of facilitator...

Ben Courtice

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