[Marxism] Australia: ‘Greenslide’ a shift to left — neither major party wins majority mandate | Green Left Weekly
glparramatta at greenleft.org.au
Mon Aug 23 23:14:35 MDT 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
By Peter Boyle <http://www.greenleft.org.au/taxonomy/term/1073>
Rally for equal marriage rights, Sydney August 14, 2010. Photo by Peter
By denying both the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the the
Liberal-National coalition an outright majority in primary votes and in
House of Representatives seats, Australian electors voted “neither of
the above” for the traditional parties of government.
This followed an election campaign in which the major parties conducted
an ugly race to the right, most notoriously by scapegoating the few
thousand desperate refugees who attempt to get to Australia on boats.
The effect of this race to the right was to promote racism, further
breakdown community solidarity, and a bolster a range of other
conservative prejudices on issues ranging from climate change to the
economy to same-sex marriage rights. Important issues like Indigenous
rights and Australia's participation in the imperialist war of
occupation in Afghanistan were totally screened out.
However, there was also a reaction to this push to the right. The
Greens, a party with a record of taking positions well left of the major
parties on many critical issues enjoyed a 3.8% swing, taking most of its
votes away from the ALP.
At the time of writing, the Greens had obtained 1,187,881 (11.4%) of the
first preference votes for House of Representatives. Yet under the
undemocratic system for lower house elections, the Greens only got one
of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives, that of Melbourne.
There were a string of other once-safe ALP seats that came close to
being taken by the Greens.
The contradiction between the size of the Green vote and their small
representation in Parliament grows, suggests the need for a grassroots
campaign for democratic reform of the electoral system. It is not
democratic that the Nationals, who won a third the number of votes as
the Greens, should get seven times their representation in parliament!
The power of corporate Australia to buy elections with massive donations
and their domination of the media also has to be confronted.
The Greens won the seat of Melbourne with the open assistance of the
Victorian Electrical Trade Union and many other militant trade
unionists. This was an important break from the total domination of the
labour movement by the pro-capitalist ALP.
At the time of writing, the Greens had won 1,266,521 first preference
votes in the Senate election and socialist candidates, including the
Socialist Alliance, a further 39,186 votes. The Greens look like raising
their number of Senators from five to nine — giving them the balance of
power in the Senate.
The progressive social movements, including the trade unions will be
looking to these Greens Senators to offer strong support in the
struggles ahead, no matter which major party eventually forms government.
The result after election night on August 21 was a hung parliament. The
major parties are now desperately trying to negotiate agreements with
three or four independents and the Greens MP to form a minority
government, while the outcome in a number of seats remains uncertain. If
a deal to form government cannot be made, the Governor-General has the
power to call another election.
While the three independent MPs certain of a seat, Tony Windsor, Bob
Katter and Rob Oakeshott, are former members of the conservative
rural-based National Party, all broke over strong objections to
particular aspects of the neoliberal agenda that has been pursued by
both Liberal-National coalition and ALP governments since the 1980s.
Further, they have consolidated the hold on their seats by taking
“community-first” positions on issues directly affecting their
electorates. So neither major party can be certain of their support.
Newly elected Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, indicated earlier in
the campaign that he would support a hypothetical ALP minority
government but since August 21, he's been reluctant to be so specific.
He told ABC TV's /7.30 Report/ on August 22 that the Greens were
entering discussions with various parties and independents and “there's
nothing on or off the table”.
Progressive independent Andrew Wilkie, a former Greens candidate, has a
chance of winning the Tasmanian seat of Denison away from the ALP. He
laid out a position, on the August 22 /7.30 Report/ on how he would be
prepared to support a minority government:
“If I'm elected, the party I support will only be assured that I won't
block supply, and that I won't support any reckless no confidence motion.
“Beyond that, it's all up for grabs. I will look at every piece of
legislation, every issue and assess them on its merits. I think it's
self evident what is reasonable ethical behaviour and what isn't. And
any acts of lying and so on, I won't accept that and I won't support
legislation in that regard.”
The Greens should make an offer to support a minority ALP government
along similar lines because clearly a Liberal-National government would
be a greater evil. However, entering or making any further commitments
to a possible ALP government would trap the Greens in a conservative
government that will be bad for the majority of people, bad for
Indigenous communities, bad for refugees and bad for the environment.
More information about the Marxism