JOHN MENADUE   The impotent and the pure!

In the Batman bi election the Greens have correctly directed criticism at the cruel policies of the ALP and the Coalition on refugees in Manus and Nauru.But the Greens do not have clean hands either.  

The Greens  must bear a heavy responsibility for what we now see on Manus and Nauru.

In the Senate the Greens sided with Tony Abbott against the arrangement with Malaysia, 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. The result was Manus and Nauru. The Greens cannot be absolved for their populism and the consequences we now see on Manus and Nauru.

The Greens must also accept major 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 10 wasted years.

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

The Greens have inflicted great 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’


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11 Responses to JOHN MENADUE   The impotent and the pure!

  1. Metta Bhavana says:

    The Greens didn’t help, but it was Chris Bowen and the High Court that sank the Malaysia deal. In a 6-1 decision, the court said Malaysia did not have laws in place to ensure the safety of asylum seekers. “The Malaysian deal was made not by amending the Migration Act but by a declaration by Mr Bowen made under his ministerial powers.

    But the High Court found that Malaysia was not legally bound to protect the asylum seekers under the Act, which therefore makes the declaration invalid.”

    “Malaysia is not a party to the Refugees Convention or its protocol,” the High Court said in a statement.

  2. Michael Flynn says:

    Are we doing history here or voting in the Batman by- election ? Ged Kearney should win on her merits for the ALP. We will have PM Turnbull to the bitter end and be Trumped! I expect Shorten to win the next election but is he fails then I hope for a seamless transition to Tanya P.Turnbull will not be seeking an early election to end his time as PM

  3. Richard Barnes says:

    The claim that the Greens scuttled the 2008 Rudd Government CPRS legislation because they “let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, thus putting back climate action for a decade, has been repeated so often that now everyone on all sides of politics believes it as fact. They genuinely believed, and the evidence backed this up, and still does, that the CPRS as proposed by Rudd would have been worse than nothing. So Voltaire’s aphorism is really irrelevant, and we might better summarise the Greens’ actions as being to prevent the bad from being the enemy of the good!
    The vitriol heaped on the Greens – which seems to be building to a crescendo with the imminent Batman election – amazes me. They can’t be both well-off idealists with no understanding of the real world AND craven populists at the same time.

  4. Val Kay says:

    I am disappointed and angry that the Clean Energy legislation of 2011, introduced by Labor with the support of the Greens, successfully enacted in 2012, and largely repealed by the LNP government in 2014, doesn’t get a mention here.

    Blaming the Greens for opposing inadequate legislation on climate change in 2009, while refusing to acknowledge that they worked with Labor to introduce a good package of legislation in 2011, seems to me a dishonest rewriting of history.

    I expected more from this blog.

  5. Michael D. Breen says:

    Sounds like the arrogant virtue of the Nuns of Port Royal.

  6. Geoff Davies says:

    John I think you ought just to drop your claim of Greens ‘populism’. Aside from the arguments presented in comments above, the Greens argue the Rudd CPRS would have entrenched *increases* in emissions. You might debate their argument, but to say that was populism is just silly – passing a fake CPRS and claiming they had ‘done something’ would have been populism. Ditto the refugees issue.

    It seems many people have a visceral dislike of the Greens. The claim of ‘purity’ suggests perhaps they feel the Greens show up just how grubby most mainstream players get. Then of course when the Greens do engage in some horse trading (as they regularly do) there are cries of ‘no more pure than anyone else’. Such reactions say more about the accusers than the Greens.

    (I am not a member of the Greens and I’m rather critical of their timid strategy.)

  7. toss gascoigne says:

    The Greens’ action on the Malaysia Agreement was disgraceful. They had until then won my (occasional) support at the ballot box, but never again.

  8. Peter Sainsbury says:

    Sorry, John, can’t agree with your analysis here. The Greens were not faced with a choice in 2008 between voting for the CPRS or having Labor implode, Tony Abbott become PM and climate policy be totally wrecked.
    Nor did they have the choice between the Malaysian solution and the disgrace of Manus and Nauru.
    The ultimate outcomes of both decisions were totally unpredictable at the times the decisions were made. The Greens cannot be held responsible for what subsequently happened, only the governments that made the respective decisions can.
    And even if the Greens had known the choice they were facing re asylum seekers, why should they have accepted one rather than the other cruel, immoral proposal? I wouldn’t support capital punishment by injection because it is ‘less violent’ than hanging.

    Declaration: I am a member of the Greens, but was not in 2008.

  9. Peter Love says:

    The Greens policy on asylum seekers is to observe our obligations under the Convention. This would be the UNHCRs preference of course.

    As for the “Malaysia solution” it probably would not have stopped the boats immediately, and would soon lose public support as we were taking 5 times the numbers, and this is the real concern, not anything about drownings.

    It is handy for Labor to now claim they had the perfect solution, but the Greens did have valid concerns.

  10. Nevil Kingston-Brown says:

    Judging by the number of times this “the Greens stopped Rudd’s CPRS” story has been repeated, I would appear to be the only person in Australia who remembers the existence of the former and unlamented Family First Senator Steve Fielding.
    In the Senate 2008-2011, Labour had 32 seats, the Coalition had 37, the greens 5, family first 1, and Xenophon (independent) 1. After supplying a President, if the Coalition was opposed the ALP therefore needed all 5 greens, and Xenophon, AND Steve Fielding, to pass legislation.
    Even if the Greens had voted with Labour, Rudd would have needed to get both Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon on board to get a CPRS through without Coalition votes. Xenophon was opposed (and a believer in Wind Farm Syndrome) but could be negotiated with; Fielding was a climate change skeptic who had stated he would vote against anything the Greens supported. If the greens supported, Fielding was opposed: Rudd could therefore only get the CPRS across the line if at least 1 or 2 of the Coalition crossed the floor to support it; but even in 2008, the chances of any Coalition Senator crossing the floor to pass a Climate Change bill which had Greens approval were/are between “zero” and “hell freezes over”. Therefore, Rudd’s only way to get the CPRS through was therefore to negotiate for Coalition support. Having the Greens take a hardline position actually made this easier, as he and Nelson/Turnbull then could portray any compromises as being “reasonable” as opposed to the Greens “radical” position. Unfortunately, Rudd gave into the temptation to use climate change as a wedge issue against the Coalition instead of negotiating in good faith; a wedge which turned out to be made of dynamite, and blew up in his face by bringing Abbott to the fore as opposition leader.
    Given these dynamics, which made the Greens position basically irrelevant, why shouldn’t they have stuck to their guns and at least kept the promises they made to their voters about pushing for a hard line climate policy with no carveouts for major polluters? After all, we know what happened to the Democrats when they became the party of compromise over the GST – oblivion.
    In summary: If the Greens had voted for the CPRS, not only would it have betrayed their base, it would have done nothing because the policy would not have been passed by the Coalition + Steve Fielding. In fact, if they had shown signs of approval, it would have made any negotiation between Rudd and Nelson/Turnbull for a bipartisan CPRS that much harder.
    The failure of the CPRS is therefore simply down to Rudd’s desire to use it to undermine the Coalition rather than to honestly seek a bipartisan approach. The Greens were bit players whose position could not actually affect what was passed or not passed, as they did not hold the balance of power in their own right.

  11. John Boyd says:

    In my mind one of the most perfidious political acts of all time was the Abbott/Greens rejection of the ‘Malaysian solution’. Abbott’s objective was clearly to keep the boats coming as a weapon with which to beat Labor. The only justification offered by Abbott was that Malaysia is not a signatory to the refugee convention. At the time, I thought that the Greens were just being naive, along the lines of the perfect being the enemy of the achievable. However, I now believe that they acted deliberately to deny Labor any progress on an issue that they relied on for popular support. On reflection, the same logic was behind the Greens’ rejection of the original CPRS, as well as the Federal Greens’ rejection of the Tasmanian forests agreement. This thinking was pretty clear in that speech during the 2016 election, of Greens candidate Jim Casey in Grayndler, in which he said, in effect that he would rather have Abbott as prime minister in order to maintain an environment of confrontation on which much of the Green’s support relies.

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