Politics

All articles about “mainstream” politics, bourgeois democracy, etc.

In a move sure to anger the hippies, Greens’ leader Richard di Natale wants to end The Greens’ longstanding opposition to the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture.

In an article published in Fairfax’s The Land, Colin Bettles writes:

[Di Natale] said the Greens’ goal to expand its voter base to 20 per cent within a decade also involved connecting more with rural and regional communities where they’ve experienced recent success through hard-nosed policies on land use and mining.

But its opposition to GMs has continually frustrated farming groups.

Changes to GM policy are part of a wider push to “mainstream” the party in the lead up to this years federal election. Earlier in 2015 Di Natale sidelined the Greens’ most prominently left wing senator, Lee Rhiannon, in a portfolio reshuffle.

The sidelining of Rhiannon was a blow to the party’s NSW based left. A move on GM policy would be a blow to the remnants of the Green’s enviro-hippy roots.

Considered in isolation, an attack on the Greens current GM policy is hardly a bad thing. The policy is stupid.

Defenders of the Greens’ GMO policy will claim that it merely adopts the precautionary principle. In reality it wholesale condemns an entire branch of useful technological development on the basis of paranoid fantasies.

The Australian Greens believe that:
Genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs), their products, and the chemicals used to manage them pose significant risks to natural and agricultural ecosystems and human health.

Don’t be manipulating the genetics, you gotta keep it all natural man!

The important questions that arise from the development and use of biotechnology are not the existence of mythical “frankenfoods”, but rather its interaction with capitalist property relations. Who gets to ‘own’ this technology, who gets to use it, and for whose benefit is it deployed? These aren’t problems peculiar to GMOs, they’re the same questions relevant to all technological development under capitalism.

Anyway. Back from the tangent.

In isolation, the erosion of a bad GM policy might seem like good news. If the Greens were a healthy democratic organization, a bad GM policy could be debated and reconsidered. Left elements within the Greens could make the case for being critical of capitalist property rights in technology, rather than simply luddite.

But that is not what is happening. This change is not being led by the grass-roots, this is a change being imposed from above. The Greens are “mainstreaming”, there is an ongoing process of sidelining or jettisoning policy practice and people that are outside the bounds of what Australian capitalist democracy deems acceptable.

The quest for twenty percent is not about convincing another ten percent of the Australian population of the merits of Green ideas. It’s not about campaigns that will reach a wider layer of people, or building links with the working class. The Greens’ push for “the next ten percent” has always been about moderating policy and people; conforming to a more right-ward position in order to appear more ‘acceptable’.

The Greens leadership are wrong. Pushing right-ward until a wider layer of people feel it is ‘acceptable’ to vote Green will not deliver electoral success. Even if it would, the process of mainstreaming will (and in my opinion already has) destroy what few green social democratic aspirations those involved in the party might have had.

I know far too many comrades who identify as anarchist, anti-capitalist or socialist who still hold illusions in The Greens. You are not changing the Greens, you are being changed. Your efforts, however you direct them, are being channeled into the development and election of an increasingly right-wing bourgeoisie political party. If you stick around too much longer, you’ll wake up one day and realize you’ve become little more than blue-green shells of your former selves.

See also: Greens lurch to the right in reshuffle

Update: The ABC reports Richard Di Natale breaks with Greens’ policy on genetically modified crops, says argument lacks evidence.

Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale has partially broken with his party’s policy, saying that he does not believe genetically modified crops pose a significant risk to human health.

The Australian has more detail, here are some interesting snippets with emphasis added:

The views of the moderate Greens leader, who is trying to broaden community support for his left-wing party, contradict longstanding Greens’ party policy that calls for a moratorium on growing any crops and organisms that have been genetically modified.

High praise from The Australian… Fools within the Greens will see growing mainstream media praise as evidence that a shift right-ward is worthwhile.

At the very end of the article:

Foodsafe Foundation director Scott Kinnear, a close friend of Senator Di Natale, was horrified at his decision to make his personal beliefs public without party consultation. [emphasis added]

An apt point from the defenders of the existing Greens GM policy, but with a fair dose of hilarious utter nonsense thrown in to boot:

“Richard might be coming from a medical position, but there is vast difference between the use of GM technology in medicine and in agriculture and Richard doesn’t seem to get that.”

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It’s a case of “much transparency, such openness” from the Australian Greens.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has reshuffled the Green’s party room, but you wouldn’t know it from him. There hasn’t been so much as a media release or statement about the reshuffle from Di Natale.

Instead, the Greens have simply updated the portfolio responsibilities list on their website and issued an updated contact list to journalists.

How the Greens see fit to notify people about changes to their Parliamentary team.

How the Greens see fit to notify people about changes to their Parliamentary team.

The only public indication from Greens’ federal parliamentarians has been this brief statement from Lee Rhiannon.

The content of the unadvertised reshuffle further demonstrates that the Greens are a party lurching rightwards.

Lee Rhiannon and Janet Rice have been stripped of key campaign portfolio responsibilities, on the same day Richard di Natale has indicated he will work with the Liberal party on refugees and marriage equality.

Lee Rhiannon’s work in higher education, especially in the critical and much neglected TAFE sector, has consistently won kudos and respect from officials in both of the major education unions. Lee Rhiannon is also publicly identified as the most consistently left wing Greens parliamentarian.

The portfolio reshuffle sees responsibility for higher education go to South Australia’s yet-to-be-appointed replacement for Penny Wright, Robert Simms.

Robert Simms has also picked up responsibility for the LBGTI and Marriage Equality portfolio from Victorian Senator Janet Rice. Within the Greens this is a key campaigning portfolio; its move away from someone associated with the left based in Melbourne to an Adelaide based newcomer is significant.

In a sick twist sure to disappoint Greens supporters in the education sector, new Tasmanian Senator Nick McKim has been given the “Schools” portfolio.

In 2011 McKim served as Minister for Education in a Tasmanian Labor dominated government where he oversaw significant cuts to public education funding in that state. The appointment of McKim to this role is unsurprising given their new leader. Within the Greens Di Natale is said to oppose the Greens’ longstanding commitment to free tertiary education.

The Australian Greens under Richard di Natale are continuing their trajectory to the right. If those who identify as ‘the left’ within the Greens do not successfully fight this trajectory, they will have become little more than window dressing for a right wing party in much the same fashion as the Labor left.

Assuming they have not already.

Updates

Nick McKim has now released a presser celebrating his new portfolio responsibilities. It includes the following:

“I will work with my colleagues to champion entrepreneurship and the collaborative economy, which will be real economic drivers into the future.”

“I will be a fierce advocate for small business, and will continue the great work done by Senator Peter Whish-Wilson to ensure they get a level playing field to compete with the large corporations.

“The Greens will present an alternative vision for the economy that looks to the innovators, small businesses and entrepreneurs to generate sustainable wealth and prosperity in the 21st Century.”

The NSW Young Greens have posted a statement on their Facebook page which includes the following:

The NSW Young Greens object to the decision to remove the Higher Education portfolio from Senator Lee Rhiannon.

This decision will hurt the entire education movement across the country. Activists, students, NAPU and NTEU & AEU members have relied on the support of Senator Rhiannon for many years, and have developed a strong working relationship with her. These close relationships, and the actions Senator Rhiannon has taken, have allowed the Greens to be at the forefront of the campaign against deregulation, and together we have played a key role in defeating it. This decision will, in many ways, alienate thousands of young people and union members from the Greens.

The NSW Young Greens would also like to object more broadly to the manner in which portfolios are chosen in the Australian Greens Party Room.

The Sydney University Education Action Group has posted this:

Chris Pyne losing the Education portfolio is an unsurprising attempt by the Turnbull government to save face in light of failed higher education reform. In the midst of the shambles of Federal politics, we’re devastated to hear that the The Australian Greens have inexplicably replaced Lee Rhiannon as their higher education spokesperson, in what many are interpreting as a rightward lurch.

Further Update:

Sky News posted Greens reshuffle while all eyes on PM late last night:

The Greens have reshuffled their party room in a move overshadowed by of Malcolm Turnbull’s first day as prime minister.

New South Wales Senator Lee Rhiannon lost the higher education portfolio, while Victorian Senator Janet Rice is no longer the spokesperson for same-sex marriage and LGTBI issues.

The move is likely to further anger certain sections of the party’s membership already concerned about the lack of transparency and consultation shown during May’s leadership spill.

Meanwhile others have been wondering what on earth Di Natale was doing at this last week.

Wednesday Updates

New Matilda running with Anger In NSW After Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon Loses Higher Education Portfolio:

Despite playing a prominent role in the push-back against Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s attempts to deregulate the higher education sector, Rhiannon has lost the portfolio to New South Australian Senator-designate Robert Simms, who has also received the high profile LGBTI and Marriage Equality roles.

New Matilda understands the ultimate responsibility for redistributing portfolios lies with Greens leader Richard Di Natale, and that MPs were informed of the final changes at a party room meeting on Tuesday morning.

Green Left Weekly has picked it up with Federal Greens leader sidelines two popular Green MPs.

Thursday / Friday Updates

Crikey ran an article (paywalled) on Thursday entitled Greens’ sneaky portfolio reshuffle upsets NSW branch.

A couple of of commentors in the thread below have pointed to this blog post by Richard di Natale on the Greens magazine website. Apparently it proves the Green’s total openness, transparency and lack of a rightward shift.

See Also

New Matilda, New Greens Boss Richard Di Natale Forced To Clarify Israel Stance.
SBS, Pension Changes to Pass with Greens support.
Kieran’s Review, 5 reasons the Greens aren’t good enough on asylum seekers.

Giveaway iPhone 7 Plus

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Edited 9:34pm: Post was originally put together with 24liveblog, I’ve scraped the content for a static page as I’m not a fan of the ever loading javascript.

20:27 Thank you for tuning in

And this concludes the #budget2015 liveblog!

In brief:

  • Rebates and a minor tax cut for small business are dressed up as if they will provide significant economic stimulus. They wont.
  • Measures to crack down on tax avoidance sound good, but with the treasurer boasting that the public service is the smallest it’s been in years, enforcement will be another matter entirely.
  • The limits on FBT concessions will actually hurt a raft of underpaid workers in the SACS sector. Not that anyone seems to care.
  • The security state grows again. Quell surprise.
  • The funds for northern development are more significant than most will realise. Just as state and federal governments are closing indigenous communities and driving people from their lands, the government will spend significant amounts on infastructure to facilitate the (white) economic exploitation of these same areas.

Time for a beer.

20:20 RET, power prices, and interest rates

Hockey takes credit for power prices and interest rates:

We have helped to bring down the cost of living — Australians today are paying less for their electricity and less on their mortgages.

Yet his government attacks the RET as renewable power prices successfully competes with coal.

When he was out of government, Hockey himself claimed that low interest rates meant economic weakness and government incompetance!

20:15 Jobs growth bullshit…

Hockey claims the government has created jobs:

We have helped create a quarter of a million new jobs and there are more to come … a lot more.

This is a slight of hand by Hockey. Hockey is taking credit for the basic level of jobs growth that occurs as a result of population growth. Employment growth has fallen below population growth and as a result the unemployment rate has significantly increased.

20:12 The dissonance…

Hockey says this:

This is despite the fact that we have lost $90 billion in expected tax revenue over the same period.

And this:

On the economic front, iron ore prices have fallen dramatically and the recovery in the global economy has been weaker than expected.

But then acts like this is a good thing(!):

Since we came to Government, we have abolished job‑destroying taxes like the carbon tax and the mining tax.

Does he think we’re mugs?

20:07 Income management trials extended

Income Management in Playford, and the other current sites, including the NT, Bankstown, Shepparton, Logan, and Rockhampton, will be extended till June 30th 2017. Funding was due to end on June 30th this year.


H/T Stop Income Management in Playford.

20:02 Billions for war, as always

It sure is expensive propping up a weak government’s authority:

This year we will commit a further $1.2 billion to make Australia safe and secure. This builds on the $1 billion of extra funding we committed last year.

19:59 FBT changes an attack on community sector workers

The FBT entitlements were given to the SACS (Social and Community Services) Sector to compensate for the absurdly low rates of pay in that sector. It is a female dominated sector that routinely requires a tertiary qualificaton, for rates of pay comparable to a job at a supermarket.

We are limiting Fringe Benefits Tax entitlements on overly generous meal and entertainment expenses, capping them at $5,000 a year per person, saving $295 million.

If the government is going to attack the FBT provisions, SACS workers must demand some serious pay increases.

19:55 New anti-avoidance laws.. what about enforcement?

As a result of Tax Office investigations we have identified 30 large multinational companies that may have diverted profits away from Australia to avoid paying their fair share of tax in Australia.

Hockey’s rhetoric on tax avoidance is transparent nonsence. This is the man who slashed the enforcement capabilities of the ATO over the last year.

19:53 The ASIO behemoth grows again

ASIO is a bloated carcass that should be deflated; Hockey announces more money for spooks:

Tonight the Government is committing an extra $450 million for our intelligence capabilities, to ensure that we have the very best equipment and skills necessary to keep our communities safe.

ASIO will no doubt justify this by expanding the scope of people and behaviors it deems threats, as it has for a decade and a half

19:50 Pension is a right not a privilege

This is how they dress up an attack on the pension:

The Age Pension is our Budget’s biggest item of expenditure, $44 billion a year. This is more than 10 per cent of all government spending.

The Age Pension is a critically important safety net for many Australians.

Everyone has the right to a retirement with dignity. Want to make it sustainable? End the absurd tax concessions on the super of the wealthy.

19:46 The ‘northern frontier’

He called it a “frontier”, interesting that he chose such blatantly colonial era language.

As the WA and federal governments collude to close indigenous communities and drive aboriginal people from their lands, Hockey announces he is going to open the north for business…

I announce tonight a new $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility which is the first major step in our plan for our great North.

We will partner with the private sector and governments of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, to provide large concessional loans for the construction of ports, pipelines, electricity and water infrastructure that will open our Northern frontier for business.

19:42 The myth of the start-up

A popular myth, but simply untrue:

Every big company in the world started small.

Every big idea in the world came from just one person, or a handful of people working together.

19:40 The entire budget speach has already leaked

New Matilda has the full text of the Hockey’s speech, online here now.

19:37

If I won the lotto every day I would be really rich too Joe.

19:37

Selling more and more iron ore hey? Chinese demand for iron ore is softening and will continue to soften Joe.

19:35

The “job destroying mining tax” barely collected a cent. The Australian state would be in a stronger position in the face of the revenue collapse you identified, if the state had actually made the mining sector pay a reasonable price for the looting of the countries mineral wealth!

19:31

“Fair share of challenges”. Playing the terrorism card won’t get you out of this.

Now that the mining boom is over, don’t you wish that mining capital had paid it’s fair share?

19:29

Here we go… Prepare for shout-y incoherant postings.

19:19 $330 million unemployment package…

According to the ABC Hockey will announce $212 million in funding “for a new youth transition to work program”, “$14 million … to encourage people leaving school early to enter into work or training”, and “$106 million will go towards helping young people struggling to get work due to their personal circumstances”.

There is a very basic problem with all such programs. Unemployment is not caused by “welfare dependence”, or a lack of encouragement to find a job, or personal circumstances.

First and foremost, people are unemployed because there are simply not enough jobs. 11 people are looking for work for every advertised vacancy. No amount of additional education or additional persecution directed at unemployed workers will change this.

19:07 Cuts to foreign aid

I didn’t realise there was still a foreign aid budget to cut!

It’s worth remembering how little “foreign aid” actually means when it comes to the Australian budget, governments of both stripes have used the aid budget to fund the persecution of asylum seekers in Nauru and PNG.

18:56 Cigar primed and ready…

18:41 That waiting period…

Hockey is expected to back down on last years “Wait for the dole” announcement:

The Abbott government is backing down on its controversial plan to
make younger people seeking the dole wait up to six months before
receiving welfare in a radical departure from its tough “lifter or
leaner”; language seen in last year’s budget.

Instead of asking people under 30 to wait six months before receiving the dole, the Coalition will now seek to extend the existing one-week waiting period to four weeks for people aged under 25.

No waiting period is acceptable, a month without pay can destroy your life as effectively as six months without pay when you are living on the edge of the poverty line.

That said, with the delays in processing new claims that have been engineered by cuts at Centrelink there is already a defacto waiting period in place.

18:18 Tax cuts for small business… groan

This morning Hockey announced the budget will include a tax cut for small business:

The tax cut of at least 1.5 per cent is set to deliver a two-tiered tax system, with big businesses still paying 30 cents on the dollar.

If there is a “budget emergancy”, why the tax cut? There was never, of course, any budget emergancy.

This cut will do little to nothing to support smaller firms in their competition with the behemoths that dominate the Australian economy; the largest firms barely pay tax.

18:06 Welfare attacks

Last year’s budget featured massive attacks on welfare claimaints, in particular unemployed workers. Check out the Dole Action Group for more on the ongoing fight against those attacks.

18:00 Who should pay for childcare?

The big pre-budget announcement was a $3.5 billion dollar childcare package. Abbott has stated that adoption of the package is contingent on senate passing stalled cuts that were proposed in the 2014 budget.

But should the government even be funding childcare? Don’t worry, I’m not about to go full market libertarian!

The real benificiaries of childcare are capital. The state is involving itself in childcare subsidies and alike because capital needs parents back in the workforce sooner. The bosses are the real financial benificiaries of childcare, we should demand they pay for it.

In a world where all workers are expected to work and raise the next generation of workers simultaneously, it is entirely appropriate that workers demand that business provide or pay for adequate childcare.

17:45 Out with PPL and in with Nannys!

The incomparable David Pope on that announcement:

17:42 Good evening

Good evening and welcome to my first attempt at liveblogging. Stay on this page for my scream-y reactions to Joe Hockey’s second budget speach.

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Renters in Victoria are being wrung dry by rising rents and insecure tenancies. One million of us rent. 24% of us experience “housing stress”; we fall in the bottom 40% of households by income and we’re spending more than 30% of what little we have on keeping a roof over our heads (link).

And it keeps getting worse. Every six months landlords and real estate agents hit us with “pay more or we’ll inflict the cost and trauma of seeking new accomodation on you”.

Higher rents for shorter leases, lower wages for casual hours... You better not get sacked, you better not get evicted...

Higher rents for shorter leases, lower wages for casual hours… You better not get sacked, you better not get evicted…

Ben Schneiders writes in today’s Sunday Age:

The forgotten people, Victoria’s 1 million renters
There are about 1 million Victorians who rent in a system that is heavily weighted towards the interests of landlords and has become steadily less affordable …

The interests of renters are unlikely to attract much attention in this state election campaign. When housing has received a mention in recent state and federal campaigns it has tended to focus on the woes of first home buyers – not renters.

For the working class in Victoria, every tenancy is precarious. For the landlords and real estate agent scum, any working class tenant who is not in housing stress should be paying more.

But The Greens reckon they haven’t overlooked housing. Trent McCarthy was quick to get a media release out this morning, “The Greens haven’t forgotten Northcote’s renters“:

The Greens introduced legislation into Parliament only a few months back that would have removed the ability for landlords to evict tenants without giving a lawful reason. And it would have required all rental properties to pass a ‘roadworthy’ – to meet basic standards in relation to repair, comfort, safety, facilities and energy efficiency.

It’s piss weak rubbish.

The Greens are not credible on housing. A “house roadworthy” and energy efficient requirements will not lower rents. On the contrary, these measures would drive rent increases and do little if anything to improve the quality of housing stock. They would create a lovely little market in house roadworthy certification.

Removing the ability of landlords to evict renters without cause would be a minor step in the right direction, but it is rendered meaningless in a world of six month leases. The six month lease cycle is a key weapon in the landlords campaign to squeeze the working class.

When it comes to affordability, it seems the only people The Greens are serious about are artists, their Arts and Culture policy calls for:

The provision of low rent working spaces for practising artists in under-utilised buildings.

If The Greens took renters seriously they’d have some serious housing policy. Security of housing in rental is abysmal. A real demand would be that once leased, tenants should be secure from eviction indefinitely.

Once you’re in a house, price increases are the real bastard. A real demand would be for serious price controls and strict limitation on increases during tenancy.

Choice.com.au shows how Australian rental conditions compare.

Choice.com.au shows how Australian rental conditions compare.

But neither price controls nor greater security of tenancy address the fact that housing is a basic human need. Access to housing should hostage to private landlords, who operating through a few real estate agents are practically a cartel arraigned against the working class.

As workers and renters we should demand a right to secure, cheap and comfortable housing. We should demand the kind of investment in social housing, democratically self-controlled social housing, that could give the working class a bloody alternative to the cutthroat antics of the private rental market.

Bonus! Lets Hang the Landlord!

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Don't let media billionaire Rupert Murdoch tell you what to think, let real estate millionaire Morry Schwartz guide you instead!

Don’t let media billionaire Rupert Murdoch tell you what to think, let real estate millionaire Morry Schwartz guide you instead!

In yesterday morning’s The Saturday Paper, as Western Australia went to the polls in a Senate election rerun, Mark Seccombe asked just what kind of voter “can you sell a PUP”.

He spun us a tale of a dwindling number of older, less educated, and unemployed white males, duped by a billionaire’s extravagant advertising spend. The Palmer vote in 2013 was an outlier, after a poor showing in the Tasmanian state election it was clear that the Palmer United Party would struggle to make 4%. The not so subtle message was that the Palmer voters who remained where dupes, unemployed, under educated, older and angry.

Last night the Palmer United Party won 12.49% of the vote, 7.48% more than in the federal election last year.

Seccombe’s article is fascinating, largely because of where it appears. The Saturday Paper is has been marketed as “a newspaper without the Murdoch”. The assumption that underlies it is that the failure of the social democratic left in this country has been due to the nefarious influence of an all-powerful Rupert Murdoch, and a working class stupid enough to believe him.

What passes for Australian social democracy has a convenient scapegoat in Murdoch. Why did Labor rush to the right? Murdoch. Why do governments torment refugees? They’re appealing to stupid racists who believe Murdoch. Why did the Gillard government fail? Murdoch and stupid people. Why haven’t the Greens broken through into the mainstream? The evil Murdoch monster tells lies.

When confronted with a phenomena like Clive Palmer, how does this “left” understand him? He’s a rich man duping stupid people, and there is nothing else going on that we have to understand.

There is something else going on. The failures of Australian social democracy are not due to some all-powerful media baron, or that Australians are simply too stupid to understand that the left are correct. Rather, Australian social democracy fails because of its total disconnect from the reality of the Australian working class, and its own lack of political content.

Clive Palmer’s success yesterday means something, and explaining it is important to understanding what is going on. The two explanations that the mainstream left will offer are wrong. Clive Palmer did not buy the vote, advertising spend does not determine the course of an election, if it did he would have won far more than 12.49% of the vote. And the Australian working class is not stupid. Formal tertiary education is not some indicator of intelligence (especially when you look at what the Australian edufactory produces), and the Australian working class did not somehow acquire some form of stupidity recently that it did not have when those darlings of the current left, Whitlam, Hawke and Keating, were elected.

Don’t get me wrong, Clive Palmer is a joke. He is a self-interested dinosaur-building Titanic-raising coal-mining billionaire. But this isn’t some secret. 12.49% of Western Australians voted for him even though he is a joke. The vote for Clive Palmer is an indication of growing disillusionment. When faced with the vacuous circus that is Australian politics, 12.49% of Western Australians consider a joke like Clive Palmer the better alternative.

The mainstream left will nash their teeth. But for the radical left, this is actually a good sign. Parliament is a farce. Our democracy is a sham. The parliamentary process does not serve the interests of the Australian working class. Evidence that the legitimacy of authority of the official political process is being slowly eroded should be welcomed.

Further Reading:

Tad Tietze at Left Flank:

The rise of PUP in WA, winning 12.5 percent of the vote has again wrong-footed mainstream and Left observers. Most still seem to think that attacking Palmer’s economically undeliverable promises will expose him as a fraud. Or that damning him for using (his own) corporate cash to win votes will reveal him to have no real support. Or that his erratic anti-politician persona, complete with scathing vitriol directed at the established parties, will simply show he is not to be taken seriously. Or, finally, that his status as a member of the business elite will repel people, as soon as people wake up to it. All these views miss what is happening, because in fact political attacks only increase the anti-political appeal of operators like Palmer. It confirms to voters that the insular, self-obsessed political class and its media lapdogs are simply trying to shore up their own interests against the threat he poses. After all, these same politicos don’t blink when the established parties makes promises they don’t intend to keep, amass corporate money for their campaigns, ridicule their opponents, and get entitled about their entitlements. Palmer’s success is a reflection of the disdain for politics that is the defining feature of the political situation today, and his nasty anti-democratic side matters little when voters see the sick state of actually existing democracy.

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Back when the Greens opposed mandatory detention... Policy Snapshots Booklet 2007

Back when the Greens opposed mandatory detention… Policy Snapshots Booklet 2007

Sarah Hanson-Young gets up at a refugee rights rally, sobs for a bit, then tells people to vote Green. It’s not good enough. Here’s why.

1. The Greens could have scuttled the re-opening of camps on Manus and Nauru but didn’t

It wasn’t an Abbott government that introduced the most retrograde policy on refugees in a decade. A policy so appalling even the Howard government was eventually forced to wind it down when faced with a revolt from the liberal wing of his own back bench. Oh no.

Julia Gillard and Labor re-opened the camps on Nauru and Manus Island, and they did so with the support of the Greens.

In 2001 Bob Brown proclaimed that the Greens were not a single issue party and took the Greens into bat on the issue of refugees. It was why in 2001, as a fourteen year old, I got involved. But when push came to shove in 2013, when the Greens precious hold on the balance of power finally gave them the chance to walk the talk, they utterly failed.

The new round of crimes on Nauru and Manus Island are only possible due to Greens weakness. They were not even prepared to push.

2. The Greens support mandatory detention

The Greens favour the mandatory detention of refugees. Including children. Perhaps indefinitely. Oh they mouth a few platitudes like “refugees to live in the community as soon as possible”, but will they close down Australia’s system of barbaric prison camps? No, they will:

“Establish 30 day time limits of detention so initial health, security and ID checks can be done, and periodic judicial review of any detention thereafter” – Greens.org.au “Caring for Refugees in Our Community”.

As Nazeem Hussain explains:

The Greens know a ’30 day cap’ for security checks is little more than a sentiment. You can’t rush ASIO, they take as long as they like ‘need’. 40 Sri Lankans and an Iranian have been waiting in detention for ASIO clearance, some waiting up to 4 YEARS!

Under Greens policy, after 30 days – will they just release detainees even with no security clearance?? Why detain them in the first place if security checks aren’t actually imperative?!

NZ only detains ppl for 7 days for health checks and performs security checks in the community. Noone complains.

It’s not a crime to seek asylum, yet the Greens policy will imprison refugees, including children, perhaps indefinitely.

3. The Greens consider the standards of at least some detention centres acceptable

Before you delude yourself into thinking that The Greens mandatory detention camps will be nicer than Abbotts or Rudds, consider this:

“The Greens … will … close down the worst Australian detention centres on the mainland and on Christmas Island.”

As far as the Greens are concerned, only “the worst” of the camps are the problem. At least some of the camps that now exist are acceptable.

I ask, will the Greens nominate which of the camps in the Australian gulags will the Greens not close down? If Nauru is unacceptable, what about that nice new camp on Christmas Island? Or if that’s no good, what about that centre of fun and games in Broadmeadows? It’s compartively low security, refugees only occasionally try and starve themselves to death in order to get out.

4. The Greens support a “Malaysia” style “solution”

Instead of defending the absolute right of people to seek asylum from persecution, the Greens “Safer Pathways” policy accepts the absurd concept of a “queue” and proposes a “Malaysia” style “solution”.

The Greens policy document The Right Way Foward on Refugees even quotes the absurd Houston Panel in support of it’s policy, the same “expert panel” the Gillard government established as cover to reintroduce the camps on Nauru and Manus Island.

The key points the Greens highlight in their document include:

Increase Australia’s humanitarian intake to 30,000 … including resettling at least 3,800 directly from our immediate region, including from Indonesia, as recomended by the Houston Panel.

This statement accepts the false logic of a queue, that people should somehow have to wait for permission to exersize their fundamental rights. It accepts the absurd notion that Australia should set limits on the number of people somehow allowed to seek asylum here, as if a rich country like Australia should be able to say “wait, no, you might have an absolute right to seek asylum but we’ll pick and choose”.

Their document also talks about “regional processing” in Indonesia. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, under the Greens Australia would still outsource it’s international obligations.

This policy from the Greens treats asylum like a charitable jesture, as if refugees do not have absolute rights, and our racist government can just meet part of it’s obligations, in small amounts, when it feels like it.

5. The Greens wont even close Nauru and Manus Island

The Greens have already conceded on Nauru and Manus Island. It is clear they were not prepared to take the Gillard government to task over it’s treatment on refugees, and they wont make the closure of Manus Island and Nauru conditions for forming government after the next election.

They have a whole policy that accepts that Manus Island and Nauru detention camps wont close. Instead, they propose a laughable figleaf, an Independent Health Advisory Panel.

Read it and weep:

“The Australian Greens want to put a stop to offshore detention altogether. But whilst it is in place, Australia remains responsible for looking after the health and wellbeing of refugees we send to detention camps. There must be special oversight of the impacts of indefinite detention on these already traumatised people.”

That’s right, The Greens won’t actually stop the barbaric treatment of refugees, they’ve clearly signalled that with this policy. Instead they’re prepared to accept some totally meaningful oversight, so we can watch and wait for the inevitable result of barbaric and inhumane treatment.

Consider the tone of all of these documents. The Greens care. They Greens want to look after these poor traumatised people. The Greens don’t seem to accept that refugees are people with agency, fighting for their lives, who we have to stand with shoulder to shoulder.

Would be Greens Senator Janet Rice agrees that 30 days mandatory detention is A OK.

Would be Greens Senator Janet Rice agrees that 30 days mandatory detention is A OK.

The alternative…

It’s time to stop placing our faith in the great Green hope.

In a recent Facebook exchange, Victorian Greens party figure and psephologist Stephen Luntz justified his party’s drift to the right on the grounds that he hasn’t heard criticism from the refugee movement and support campaign:

If they’ve got criticisms of our policy point me to them, but so far all I have encountered is people from both categories asking me where they can sign up to campaign.

The Greens are in the process of mainstreaming. They assume the million or so Australians on the left are locked in, and they are on the move rightwards in pursuit of what Greg Barber used to describe as “the next ten percent”.

If you think voting is enough, if you think the Greens are enough, you are sadly mistaken.

We need to tell the Greens they’re not bloody good enough. They take your $2.10 for granted.

We need to build a refugee movement that stands in solidarity with refugees, that absolutely defends the right to seek and enjoy asylum:

“This is an important issue because there is a long history of workers who support unions being persecuted because of their belief in standing up for workers’ rights.

“There are still many countries where working for a union or being part of a union can place workers in danger. We believe it is important these people, like all people fleeing for their safety, have the right to ask Australia for safety. We believe it’s Australia’s responsibility to treat these people fairly. – Victorian Trades Hall Council

We need to build a militant refugees movement that goes beyond a paltry focus on the electoral cycle. We need to stand with those who resist and take the battle to those who profit.

Don’t just vote, get organised.
(more…)

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For the first time in her Federal career Sophie Mirabella has faced a serious challenge to her control of the seat of Indi. It’s provoked a bit of national media attention and some mirth.

Skeletons... she has a few.

Skeletons… Sophie Mirabella has a few.

I grew up in Indi, I live in Indi, and back when I still believed in the possibility of reform through the electoral process, I campaigned in Indi.

Initially I said Cathy McGowan doesn’t stand a snowflakes chance in hell of winning in Indi.

McGowan has an energised campaign, but it’s an energised campaign of traditionally labour, Greens and soft left independent voters. Alan Lappin for instances polled nearly 6% in 2010. Mirabella won with 52% of the primary.

It doesn’t matter how much the soft left is energised in Indi, Sophie Mirabella polls a clear majority in her own right.

And she polls like that despite being widely disliked. Her performance inside and outside the parliament is often considered unbecoming. There is the receipt of large donations from big tobacco (whilst engaged in these negotiations) and just a general dislike of people who come across as “a bit too big city”, it all plays against her.

The conservative majority vote for her even if they don’t particularly love her.

On the surface, I’d write Cathy McGowan off. But before you do, have a look at this, the 2010 results for the state seat of Benambra (emphasis added):

O’CONNOR, Jennifer Greens 3658 11.09%
TILLEY, Bill Liberal 18424 55.86%
MACAULAY, Haden CA 2241 6.79%
CAVEDON, Robert FAMILY FIRST 1125 3.41%
WILLIAMS, John ALP 7537 22.85%

Contrast them with the 2006 results for Benambra (emphasis added):

MAHOOD, Lisa ALP 10358 32.97%
ROBINSON, Helen Judith Greens 2109 6.71%
BAXTER, Bill Nationals 5680 18.08%
CORBOY, Martin FAMILY FIRST 842 2.68%
PEARCE, Shane 296 0.94%
TILLEY, Bill Liberal 12135 38.62%

And then there is Benella:

CORDNER HUNT, Kammy Greens 2756 8.28%
HUNT, Rochelle CA 2546 7.65%
ALLEN, Rowena ALP 6124 18.39%
WILLIAMS, Nicholas 804 2.41%
SYKES, Bill Nationals 21072 63.28%

Indi is a conservative seat, but it’s Benambra that keeps Indi Liberal rather than National.

And even within Benambra there are a solid minority who would rather be represented by a National.

For the Greens and for Labor this is of little significance. But it shows how Cathy McGowan could win, if she can bridge the sectional interests of people who would rather a National, and the soft left who would vote for anyone who wasn’t Sophie Mirabella.

It’s a delicate act of positioning. She has to appear National enough in one corner if the total non-Sophie vote is to go below 50%, but left enough to ensure she outpolls Labor on primaries and has a chance on preferences.

The result are positions like these:

Q: Did you agree with the commonwealth government intervening to stop Alpine cattle grazing?
Again about me agreeing about things. In those very controversial issues it’s not matter of me agreeing, it’s saying there’s complexity of views about that particular issue. And when I’ve been speaking to the cattle people, and I’ve been speaking to some very strong environmentalists, I’m saying let’s wait and see what happens with the government and then my role is to represent your views. And I understand the complexity and my job will be to work with you to make sure the government of the day hears your views. I’ve had great admiration for the way members of parliament like Bill Sykes, who’s the member for Benalla, has been working with his community on these things.”

It’s evasion Kevin Rudd would be proud of!

In terms of her electability, I learned two things today that are politically more significant than the strong support she is receiving from Labour and the Greens.

The publican at the Dederang pub has endorsed her. The Dederang Pub has had something of a “no politics” rule for over thirty years. Dederang is politically conservative dairy and beef country located in the Kiewa Valley. Cathy Mcgowan signs now dot the Kiewa Valley Highway.

She went for a walk with Ken Jasper. (I’ve also heard rumours of a walk with Bill Sykes at the sale yards in Wangaratta, but I can’t get this confirmed).

Endorsements are subtle in a community like this, but it’s a powerful signal.

She could win. Just. Maybe. Unlikely. But still.

A few final comments.

  • The anti-Sophie campaign that has played out online actually plays in Sophie’s favour. She might be an outsider in terms of this electorate, but compared to the left of the big cities, Sophie is “one of us”. Rural communities might express their disapproval of one of their own, but if they see one of their own under attack by outsiders, they close ranks. Doesn’t matter how much they dislike that person.

    If the internet ridicule of Sophie was well known amongst the small “c” conservative support McGowan is trying to split from the Liberals, they would close ranks behind Sophie.

  • I don’t hold out great hopes for Cathy McGowan politically. The overt appeal to a bit of pork barrelling sits uneasily for me, and the kind of politics she will have to play in order to get elected and stay elected in Indi should disgust anyone who’s enamoured with her from the left. She would not be able to win or hold this seat without functioning as a conservative MP.
  • Irrespective of my dislike for McGowan’s politics, it would be interesting and politically significant (in terms of the future of rural Australian politics) if someone like Sophie Mirabella was unseated by someone like Cathy McGowan.
  • In terms of capitalism, if Independents in the style of Peter Andren, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott do eventually wrest control of regional areas from the Liberal and National parties, it could might have disruptive effects for coal and gas exploration. The interests of the agricultural petit bourgeoisie do not align with the mining industry.
  • In this vein it’s interesting to see how much the Nationals campaign highlights repealing the so-called mining tax. I would have thought they would skirt that issue, considering how the Greens have been trying to use the impact of coal and gas development to develop political links with the Nationals traditional support base amongst small agricultural capital.

Clash Of Clans Cheat And Hack Tool

Full Text

The second of two articles I wrote in 2009, upon leaving The Greens.

See also, Part 1: Why I left The Greens.

Population Policy: An Invitation to Racism

The Australian Greens Victoria are currently debating a population policy. There are those who passionately argue that there are “too many people” and “something must be done”, and others who recognize the racism that come with any call to restrict population.

our environmental impact is determined by the combined effect of population numbers and the way that people live – Vic Greens draft Population Policy

In a world of six billion people, surely this is common sense? Maybe, but it’s wrong. The false assumption is that our level of resource consumption as a species is a simple result of lifestyle multiplied by number of people.

But: The vast majority of people on this planet consume next to nothing. The 5.15 billion people who earn less than $10 a day (80% of global population) have a negligible effect on carbon emissions and natural resource depletion.

The poorest Africans and Asians produce 0.1 tonnes of CO2 each a year, compared with 20 tonnes for each American. – The Economist

Most proponents of the population policy perspective within the Greens will acknowledge this. The implicit racism comes into effect when they say things like:

“If everyone in China wanted to drink a beer a day, we’re all screwed” – John Doyle, to a public lecture at Latrobe University, Wodonga campus, 2008.

What does that really mean?

It means that in order to protect our privilege, the rest of the world must be kept poor, for the “common good”?

Should we build walls around western society, to protect the privilege of those within? Yes would seem to be the answer of those within the Greens calling for “zero population growth”.

People who support a population perspective would attack me at this point. They would say the above is a strawman, and that the draft policy states:

Victoria has the ability to reach zero population growth, and better fulfil its global ethical obligation for humanitarian migration, by shifting the emphasis on skills importation to skills creation.

Of course, the above statement is bullshit. Population growth in the west only exists because of immigration. Any call for zero population growth is necessarily a call to halt immigration.

One person I often chat with about population within the Greens raises the objection that immigrants:

“soon take on the carbon profile of their host country”.

The immigrant is the problem! If they come here, they will want to consume as much as we do! BAD!!

Soo, our consumption is the problem is it? The proponents of a population perspective, like the vast majority of the Australian Greens, will, when asked about the cause of the environmental crisis, identify “consumerism”. Clive Hamilton, author of Afluenza, really is a perfect fit for the inner city Greens.

This also, is bullsh-t. Earlier I highlighted the base assumption of the population perspective:

It is not just the “population” part of the “population multiplied by lifestyle equals environmental crisis” equation that is a load of crap.

There can be no doubt, that western societies consume a lot. This consumption is not a product of “lifestyle” (which, btw is basically code for “greed”). It is not the greed of the working class that caused the levels of resource consumption that we see in western society.

The consumption is a product of the production, the ‘greed’ was generated to clear the marketplace.

Capitalism is predicated in growth, because capitalists (be they individuals or corporations) must sell even more product at lower prices, or be squeezed out of the market by competing capitalists.

In times past, capitalism sought out new markets abroad, until capitalism embraced the entire globe. There being no new rich markets to tap, the only way to sell even more is to generate new demand in existing markets.

To give an example, the greedy ‘consumer’ did not create the ipod. Did you, sitting back with your walkman, ever ‘demand’ the ipod?

The ipod was developed by a company trying to sell electronic product into a market place already flooded with walkmans. The idea was developed and marketed by a company engaged in competition with the sellers of portable tape and CD players. The marketing worked, and surprise surprise, that evil worker demanded the ipod over the walkman!

So, this environmental crisis we’ve got, is it a product of “lifestyle times population”? Clearly not.

The entire premise of the proposed Population Policy is bullshit. Worse than bullshit, it gives voice to the closet racists. Why would the Greens ever consider adopting a policy that clashes with it’s commitment to social justice so fundamentally?

Several reasons:

1. The Greens are too scared to mention capitalism. They’ll say things like “growth is bad”, but because they do not criticize the economic system that prioritizes growth over human need, they are left with criticizing those consume the product.

2. The Greens, whilst having a sound ideal (environmental and social justice), lack a clearly stating analysis of the underlying causes of the environmental problem. This effectively extends an open invitation to all and sundry (and often contradictory) “environmental” ideas.

3. The consensus system leads to a tendency toward compromise among contradictory ideas. A process to overtly rejecting something as bullshit is nigh on impossible.

More:

When women reach a certain basic level of health, well being, economic power and access to birth control, fertility declines. It happened in the Western World, and it’s happening in the developing world.

World population will peak at 9 billion in 2050, and then it will slowly decline.

Given the choice and the reasonable assurance of their child’s survival, most women, irrespective of the society, will have around two children. A stable population is achieved at an average of 2.1.

The Economist has a an excellent feature on declining world fertility.

I have to agree with this sentiment:

forcing poor people to have fewer children than they want because the rich consume too many of the world’s resources would be immoral.

And disagree with this one:

the human race will have to rely on technology and governance to shift the world’s economy towards cleaner growth.

What is really needed is a total change in economic and political power structures.

More: John Passant writes about Clive Hamilton and the Greens:

Clive’s book Affluenza blames working people for wanting a few consumer goodies. For him over-consumption rather than overproduction is the problem. Hamilton fears the masses.

Read more at The Greens and Clive Hamilton.

Post Script:

In 2011 Ian Angus and Simon Butler published Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis, I wish I’d had a copy back in 2009!

I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Simon Butler at last week’s Renegade Activists Conference in Melbourne, hopefully the audio will be online soon.

Until then, check out this talk by Ian Angus on the politics of population politics at Socialism 2012, Too Many People? The Return of the Population Bombers.

Be sure to check out Part 1: Why I left The Greens.

Full Text

The first of two articles I wrote when I left the Australian Greens back in 2009. My thinking has advanced since then, but they might be of interest to people curious as to why I left The Greens and moved towards far left politics.

See also, Part 2: Racism in the Environmental Movement.

Moving on from the Australian GreensRoblox Hack Free Robux

Until recently I was active within the Australian Greens.

I was drawn to the Greens because:

there is no social justice without environmental justice, and no environmental justice without social justice. – Global Greens, Sydney 2001.

After seven years involvement with the Australian Greens I recently decided to move on.

I remain committed to the ideals of the Australian Greens, urgent action is needed now more than ever. The problem for me is, that no matter how I look at it, I cannot see how a sole focus on winning seats in the Australian parliament can achieve these goals.

The discussion within the Greens is so often “how to we win the next ten percent”. I’m as guilty as anyone else, we sat around and discussed what we needed to do in order to not offend people so they would vote for us.

I now recognise that this process, brought about by an exclusive focus on electoral politics, means that by the time the Greens achieve a position of power within the Australian parliament, they will no longer be a body that is ideologically and politically able to undertake the radical action that will be required.

Achieving a global system of democracy “in which all citizens … are able to directly participate in the environmental, economic, social and political decisions which affect their lives” (Global Greens, Sydney 2001) is needed now more than ever.

I don’t want to offend the good people I have worked with at all levels of the Greens. I still consider you all my friends, and I still share the ideas that brought us together.

But achieving “equitable distribution of social and natural resources both locally and globally” (ibid) will require so much more than an extra two senate seats.

A further question…

Does our participation in parliament offer cover for a fundamentally flawed system?

“The system is dirty, but don’t lose faith, Bob and his Greens are slugging away…”

And a further question:

Even if we could achieve a radical Green majority in parliament, would it be able to act as needed? Bob loves to quote Machiavelli:

BOB BROWN: Yes, Machiavelli said centuries ago if you’re going to change the world get ready to be squashed by those with most to lose. – Lateline

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. – Machiavelli, The Prince

What will be the instrument of power available to a Green majority in parliament, faced with the absolute opposition of all who “have done well under the old conditions?”

I do not believe votes alone will be enough, we will need the determined collective action of a good segment of society.

A mass movement, and not a mere electoral party, is what is called for.

More:

John Passant points out that the environmental crisis is a product of our capitalist economic system:

Capitalism is based on a fundamental rupture between humanity and production.

Reinventing that rupture don’t address the essential and systemic problem – the profit system is fundamentally anti-nature and hence anti-human.

Global warming: the failure of capitalism

And on the problem with the Green’s current focus:

they see negotiation, discussion and the like in Parliament as the ultimate goal and the failure to win parliamentary support the end of the story.

Bonus!

http://www.youtube.com/v/eknuqWQ4-Mw&hl=en&fs=1

Hattip to slackbastard.

Song and Dance:

The classic wobbly song, criticizing the ALP for losing their way a hundred years ago, alas I couldn’t find a vid of this one:

Come listen, all kind friends of mine
I want to move a motion,
To build an El Dorado here,
I’ve got a bonzer notion.

Chorus:
Bump me into Parliament,
Bounce me any way,
Bang me into Parliament,
On next election day.

– by Bill Casey, Melbourne Wob

Post Script:
Tony Harris published this little re-working of Bump Me Into Parliament a couple of months ago:

Come gather ‘round Green friends of mine
Consensus I am seeking,
A seat in parliament to find,
The numbers I am tweaking.

Chorus
Bump me into Parliament
Bounce me any way,
Bang me into Parliament,
On next election day.

As a Greenie activist
I really am quite frightening,
But now I’m off to parliament,
I’ll try to be enlightening.

Chorus

The carbon tax was my idea
All the party’s for it,
But whether it will work or not,
Well that’s up to the market.

Chorus

In Peace and Love I do believe
They’re principles inspiring,
But when it comes to Palestine,
It’s really just too tiring.

Chorus

“Yankee Doodle” Danby is
A Labor man annoying,
He’s after us on BDS,
It’s an issue we’re avoiding.

Chorus

Barak Obama came to town
Riding on Alliance,
With few demurs and grins all ‘round,
We gave him our compliance.

Chorus

Inheritance and private schools
Our policies are causing fear!
But in the MP’s caucus room,
We can simply make them disappear.

Chorus

New parliamentary friends of mine
They think I’m quite reliable,
And now my bum’s upon the bench,
I want to be called Honourable.

So bump them into Parliament
Bounce them any way,
Bung them into Parliament,
It’s the “Professional’ way.

The process of “professionalising” continues at full speed in The Greens, just last month at a national policy conference The Greens ditched the last remnants of a progressive tax policy.

At the time I left, the decision to move on from The Greens was heart wrenching. The follys of a regressive and ineffective carbon tax, and an ongoing trend towards technocratic conservatism have long since removed any remenant sentiment, and made the decision to embrace a revolutionary outlook all the easier.

Onwards!

See also, Part 2: Racism in the Environmental Movement.

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