JOHN MENADUE. The Greens– good policies and poor politics.

The Greens have correctly directed criticism at the cruel policies of the ALP and the Coalition on refugees in Manus and Nauru. They are also rightly critical of the major parties on climate change.But on  both issues the Greens have not been very helpful .

The Greens must bear  responsibility for what we now see on Manus and Nauru and a decade of wasted opportunities in combatting climate change

In the Parliament in September 2011 the Greens sided with Tony Abbott against the  Malaysian Arrangement, which, whilst not ideal, would have been a useful first step in curbing boat arrivals. That Arrangement with Malaysia was negotiated with the understanding and broad support of UNHCR. Not only did the Greens side with Tony Abbott opposing amendments to the Migration Act to allow the arrangement with Malaysia to proceed, they embarked on an unscrupulous bashing campaign of Malaysia.

With the collapse of the Malaysian Arrangement boat arrivals in Australia increased dramatically.  In September 2011 319 asylum seekers arrived by boat.By September 2012 the number had increased to 2062. The Greens cannot be absolved for their populism and the consequences we now see on Manus and Nauru.

The Greens must also accept  responsibility for the collapse in public support for effective action on climate change. In collaboration with the Coalition in the Senate they opposed the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme of the first Rudd Government. If the Greens had supported the Rudd Government’s CPRS in the Senate, in 2008, the issue of climate change would not have been fully ‘done and dusted’ but we would be in a far better position on climate change than we are today. The Greens said that the CPRS was not good enough. So we got nothing at all and 11 wasted years.

As a result of the Greens joining with Tony Abbott  we have continuing confusion, no emissions trading scheme, no carbon tax and expensive and unreliable electricity supply.

The Greens have inflicted  damage to Australia on both climate change and asylum seekers. Their actions on both has set back real reform and decent policies.

As Gough Whitlam often said ‘only the impotent are pure’


John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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6 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. The Greens– good policies and poor politics.

  1. Avatar David King says:

    During an interview last week Bob Brown was critised for not negotiating and compromising on the CPRS. His reply was definitive – that Labour refused to talk with them and wouldn’t negotiate. It is easy to scapegoat the Greens for the failure of the two major political parties to seriously address important issues and playing wedge politics between them, but it doesn’t get anywhere.
    The Greens worked hard to support Julia Gillard get a carbon price scheme up, and Tony Abbott simply destroyed it less than 2 years later. I think that the mining and energy lobby has more to do with why Australia has no effective climate policy than airy fairy, idealistic greens policy approaches. Also the influence of political donation in policy decisions….

  2. A disappointing article that merely repeats Labor “stab in the back” legends.
    (1) The Malaysian solution would not have “stopped the boats”. Asylum-seekers returned to Malaysia would have gone back with the right to work, which they would not have had in Malaysia without a trip to Christmas Island. It still would have been worth their while to try to get to Australia.

    (2) The greens were right to vote against the Rudd-Turnbull CPRS. The author of the original plan, Ross Garnaut, was critical of the way it turned out.
    After the Senate defeat Rudd had at least two options: talk to the Greens and work out a better plan, or, if he really thought his plan was the right one, he could have taken it to an election. Instead he just walked away from “the greatest moral challenge of our time”.
    There is no climate and energy policy because Rudd gave up, Gillard was destroyed by Abbott, Turnbull abandoned even the NEG because he wouldn’t face down his “conservatives”.
    Mark Butler is the best politician I’ve seen: maybe he will get there.

  3. Avatar Kien Choong says:

    I often feel it is good to have a stronger voice from the Greens in Parliament, but I also doubt the wisdom of this feeling whenever I think of their opposition to the Malaysian solution!

    I didn’t know about the effect of their opposition to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; this strengthens my doubts about voting for the Greens!

  4. Avatar Jocelyn Pixley says:

    Thanks John, it cannot be said more often! I was also glad Barrie Cassidy called out Di Natali on Insiders last year for some of what you mention above. I don’t oppose these Green policies in principle either, but they were vile to Julia Gillard on the UN Malaysian scheme; as was Joe Hockey, weeping at its ‘cruelty’, for heavens sake. At the time, Clive Kessler wrote about Gillard’s UN Malaysian arrangement suggesting it was safe; it would be paid for by Australia but at arms’ length with the UNHCR running the refuge; also better run than those in Malaysia at the time. Kessler highlighted the Green’s ‘holier than thou’ approach, rather like Whitlam’s stress on the capacity to compromise or its lack. He is always useful for a good quote.

  5. Avatar Nevil Kingston-Brown says:

    The Greens did not have the numbers to either pass or block Rudd’s CPRS. To pass it against Coalition opposition would have required the Greens AND Nick Xenophon AND Steve Fielding who was fervently opposed to climate science in general and the CPRS in particular.
    The Greens role was not to pass a scheme but to push a more radical scheme that made the ALP seem centrist by comparison and thus enable Turnbull to quash internal opposition and pass a bipartisan package.
    The blame rests not with the Greens but with Rudd who couldn’t resist using climate change as a wedge issue against the Coalition even while trying to negotiate with them. If he had been a more honest negotiator with Turnbull then Turnbull could have held his leadership long enough to pass the Rudd package. Alternatively he could have called a double dissolution and fought a climate change election while his popularity post-GFC was at its zenith.
    It is possible that then senators Sue Boyce and Judith Troeth would have crossed the floor to pass a hypothetical scheme that had Greens support, but there is a big difference in the Coalition between crossing the floor in a “symbolic” way (where your vote makes no actual difference to the outcome) and crossing the floor in a substantive way that hands the ALP a victory (see the voting record of George Christensen as an example). Whether Sue and Judith would have been prepared to vote with the Greens to hand Labor a victory over Abbott is a very big call.
    CF Rodd Tiffen’s excellent analysis from 2010 of Rudd’s tactical failures:

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