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Green Party Failure

March 27, 2011

Verity Firth

In an election made for them to score two inner-city seats the Green Party failed. This is an important message out of the NSW state elections. It follows massive Green Party campaigning in Balmain and Marrickville. It reflects internal chaos in the party which may at last begin to get media attention. In turn this may mean an end to the “hands off ” policy of the Canberra press gallery which has resulted in Green Party conferences and preselections never getting covered. And Bob Brown being treated reverentially.

How did a sleazy promoter of fat-blasting cures and quack medicine for impotence get preselection to run as Green Party candidate in Balmain ? Bob Brown campaigned for him but was never asked about the candidate at his side the way Gillard or Abbott would have been if they had been promoting a commercial huckster.

Thank God, The Australian newspaper pinned down the Green Party candidate in Marrickville who tried to lie her way out of support of a boycott of Israel. This is the party of principle but its candidate twisted and genuflected and contorted to avoid defending a position she had publicly taken on Marrickville Council, namely that there should be an active boycott directed against the Jewish state. She tried to say taking the issue up in state parliament was not the same as “vowing” to take the issue up in state parliament. Oh yeah ?

Verity Firth and Carmel Tebutt were quality candidates, serious about policy, diligent in work for their electorates and ferocious as doorstep advocates. The fight between Verity and her Liberal opponent is still too close to call. Both must be elevated after the election and Verity placed in the upper house if she fails to get over the line.

The defeat for the Green Party suggests there is a ceiling to their support. It confirms that even in the inner city voters are looking critically at who the party selects and what they say. It suggests they are a convenient party of protest but can no longer build support with the subterfuges and sloganeering they have lived off so far. You can’t get your local council to sign up to a boycott of Israel and say you will pursue it in parliament and then try to wriggle out of it in a state election six months later. You deserve what you get.

It is the Green Party which takes voters for granted, they who live off spin and make-believe and want to skate through without policy detail. I will cheer when a newspaper or TV station insists on breaking into one of those closed Green Party conferences ( must be closed – I never see them reported ) and giving the voters some account of how this outfit makes policy.

Maybe that will now happen.

  1. Frank Lopez permalink
    March 27, 2011 2:25 pm

    Brilliant, Bob. A party that wants to be taken seriously needs to be scrutinised as closely as the ALP and Coalition. For some reason it leads a charmed life with the media. Carmel and Verity are the true victors — if they can get up — in this election. Gutsy.

  2. March 27, 2011 4:43 pm

    Great post Bob. It is way overdue that the Green Party, their candidates and their policies should be examined more rigorously. It will be their demise.

  3. Angus Livingston permalink
    March 27, 2011 4:58 pm

    I was in Launceston when the 2010 Greens national conference was held and yes, it was closed to the media. They opened one session we could report on – Tasmanian Greens MHA Nick McKim giving a speech about being in cabinet, which had very little new content for a Tasmanian audience.

    One reporter repeatedly asked Bob Brown why he wouldn’t open the conference, and his response was it was a time for the Greens to be able to speak freely without having to moderate their comments. The press conference was derailed for five or six minutes while they argued about it.

    One interesting point Nick McKim made – he believed the Greens would one day replace one of the two major parties. He said words to the effect of “I’ll leave you to guess which one.” I can only assume he meant Labor, as Australia’s conservative/free market vote is too entrenched to vote for anyone else. Something for Labor to think about when allying with the Greens.

  4. March 27, 2011 6:30 pm

    Could not agree more!

  5. Bob Carr permalink
    March 27, 2011 7:47 pm

    That’s fascinating – that the Green Party did in fact close its national conference to the media.

    No other party would be given that leeway, the right to lock out the media and conduct its debates in North Korean seclusion.

    They get away with it.

    And how do they chose their candidates ?

    • John Newton permalink
      March 29, 2011 8:48 am

      How do they choose their candidates? Unlike the Labor party, Greens candidates are chosen by the local group, not parachuted in – cf that wonderfully successful minister Peter Garrett.

      And why do we close our conferences to the press? for exactly the reasons Senator Brown gave. If we could trust the media to report accurately and not fall back on ‘it’s a party of extremists” cliches.

      The only thing extreme about the Greens is their desire for change: and that is frightening to the two majors who just want to tick along.

      And Bob, i do find your criticism of Jamie Parker’s work – unlike Labor apparatchiks he had to find work to make a living – a little rich coming from the party that succoured Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi, Tony Kelly, Frank Sartor – and let’s not go to Woollongong.

  6. tonk permalink
    March 27, 2011 7:56 pm

    As a Green member I welcome greater media scrutiny. The standard of some of our candidates is questionable to say the least. Increased media ‘grilling’ will force us to sort the wheat from the chaff policy-wise, and hopefully a better quality of candidate will rise to the top.
    I also agree that the Greens have a natural ‘ceiling’ vote-wise, with 10-15% being about the best we can hope for.
    I don’t want the Greens to be ‘in power’, but hope that either/both ‘mainstream’ parties can be a vehicle for working towards a genuine ecologically sustainable society.

    PS thanks for all the new parks/reserves in the BBS/Nandewar bioregion!

    • Bob Carr permalink
      March 27, 2011 8:18 pm

      Thanks for an interesting comment.

      I want them to crusade harder on ecology and to take up population, which they have been relectant to touch because they have been( unnecessarily) nervous about losing migrant support.

  7. Liz Jurman permalink
    March 27, 2011 10:34 pm

    I’m with you Bob – apart from one word – “even in the inner city voters are looking critically at who the party selects and what they say.”


    Nothing if not critical!

    On behalf of the voters of Marrickville. Who were smart enough to keep Carmel.

  8. Andrew Tucker permalink
    March 27, 2011 10:54 pm

    Great post Bob. Thing is i have always been a liberal but give me any labor MP or union offical any day over the greens as i know they and you care about the people first. The greens hold policy positions and views that would last less than one minute if they were held to proper review.


  9. Fanny permalink
    March 28, 2011 3:57 am

    Four years of a Green in Balmain seemed impossible! WHAT? Why say that when the local paper spent all its resources promoting what the local mayor did single-handedly.

    I’m personally KEEPINGVERITY. I have no reason to believe that she will sink to promoting PERSONAL INPROVEMENT PRODUCTS. Verity will be busy doing what she does best – responding to constituent’s rather than turning up at ‘a do’, making an impassioned speech ’bout something, leaving early never to be seen on same issue.

    Perhaps the local newspaper will now have some space for some NEWS.


  10. mark permalink
    March 29, 2011 10:37 am

    If the Israel boycott is such a terrible idea and not valid, why did several ALP councillors on Marrickville Council support it and vote for it?

    Are they also “extremists”?

    And if the Boycott ( is so awful how come 11 major Australian trade unions support it?

    Are they also extremists?

    • Shosh permalink
      March 29, 2011 3:09 pm

      The Israel boycott is a misguided concept.Without considering the issues carefully, those who always seek to critisize the Jewish state support a boycott but what they do not realise is this is actually no help to the Palestinian cause. Many Palestinians rely on Israel and Israelis for work and income. If Israel is boycotted they too will suffer and lose their job. The BDS campaign is destructive. True supporters of the Palestinian people as opposed to “Israel haters who purport to support the palestinians” look to help build bridges between the 2 people, like combined sports and culture of which there are many not boycotts.

  11. debbie permalink
    March 29, 2011 11:44 pm

    A friend has recently come back from Hebron where she was working with NGO’s to further develop the economy and infrastructure of the city and its outer areas. She said that the Palestinian youth said they were tired of the fomenting of violence and aggression toward Israel – that they just wanted to get on with their lives in a developing West Bank – they wanted to travel and go to university and get good jobs. They did not support a BDS campaign against Israel. They want to do business with Israel and benefit from cultural and commercial exchange.

    • March 30, 2011 2:58 pm

      I’d like to point out that my previous comment, which strongly supported the Greens principled position on the BDS campaign, was not approved.

      I accept the editor’s right to disallow comments on his blog that do not meet with his approval, but rely on his honesty to bring to readers’ attention that at least one comment in favour of the Greens position (and highly critical of Bob’s, on this issue) was nixed.

      We don’t have full and open debate about the issue of the Israel Lobby in this country. If we did, the Zionist movement’s hold over our foreign policy would quickly fall apart.

      I find it sad that Bob Carr, even in retirement from the political fray, feels able to delve into this topic – yet unable to preside over a free debate.

      I doubt this is about Bob Carr being unwilling to publish personal criticisms. He was good enough to publish unedited a comment I posted months ago on this blog, that took him to task severely on matters of environmental policy in the first Carr Government.

      It’s about timidity before the Zionist Lobby. Censorship and self-censorship in the face of power and privilege.

      That’s sad.


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