The Greens will have more seats in both houses of Parliament. That is welcome. But in the past they have not used their power wisely. The perfect became the enemy of the good.
The Greens must bear some responsibility for our cruelty to refugees and over 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. Under the Arrangement 800 boat arrivals in Australia would be repatriated to Malaysia and Australia would accept 4000 refugees who had been orderly processed in Malaysia in cooperation with 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 there were about 3/4 asylum boats per month coming to Australia. By July 2013 the number had increased to 48 boats. The Greens cannot be absolved for their populism and the cruelty that followed.
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 14 wasted years.
As a result of the Greens joining with Tony Abbott we have continuing climate wars, no emissions trading scheme and no carbon tax.
The Greens have inflicted damage on both climate concerns and asylum seekers. Their actions on both set back real reform and decent policies.
Hopefully the Greens will perform better in the new Parliament.