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Amanda Vanstone Makes Strange Bedfellows!

Ok, just recently I was wondering about how The Greens were placing memes on social media pointing out how much more ideological sound they were, when compared to Labor. While I understand that they feel themselves locked in a battle for the hearts and minds of the inner-city, latte-sipping, chardonnay swilling pseudo-socialist voter. Oh, all right, forget the hearts and minds stuff. It’s a battle for seats.

Now, I don’t want to take sides here. And not just because I sipped my chardonnay in between paragraphs. I used to think of The Greens as a sensible party. What I mean by that is that Liberal and Labor are locked in a struggle for power. While the Liberals have almost no moral compass (Ok, I know, I know. There is the odd exception who refuses to abandon his or her principles, such as Malcolm Turnbull who promised he’d never lead a party who wasn’t prepared to do something about climate change and ever since he become PM, he’s refused to show any leadership), Labor has always had a struggle between the pragmatists and the idealists. The pragmatists argue that it’s only by winning government that we can accomplish anything so ditching some of our principles may be worth it because we can achieve the really important parts of our policy, while the idealists argue that the pragmatists have no idea about what’s really important because they just agreed to sell out most of the… hey, why is the NSW right moving a gag motion and telling me to shut up in the interests of unity?

The Greens, on the other hand, used to understand that they’d never be in government so it was all about achieving the odd victory here and there. You know the sort of thing, we stopped the Franklin being dammed, even if it meant Bob Brown being damned. And, as someone who’ll never actually be ruler of the universe, I see trying to achieve the odd thing here and there, as sensible. Once one starts to think that power is anything more than mounting a tiger, then one is doomed. After all, the hard thing about riding a tiger isn’t mounting it, it’s the way you realise that hanging on is everything because once you stop riding it, you’re dead!

So when I started seeing memes pointing out that they were so much better than Labor on a number of issues, I had to start wondering if they’d joined the main game. Vote for us, because we’re not them. Now, I’m not trying to launch into an anti-Green diatribe here, but it did worry me because it was exactly the sort of political argument that the Liberals have indulged in.

And, as a latte-sipper who’s not quite inner-city enough to simply applaud anyone who complains about the imperfections of the world, I must say, I was wondering if they’d lost their way a bit. I don’t blame them for trying to win. Good luck to them in Batman, I say.

It’s just that it seemed to me that by attacking Labor – and by Labor attacking them – that the left is cannibalising itself. As I’ve said many, many times in the last two years, Adani isn’t going ahead. The Greens can ask Labor to condemn it, but Labor knows that’s not necessary and that fence-sitting stops them from being attacked by the Coalition for being anti-jobs. Pragmatic, I know, but that’s what parties who expect to win government are like.

Ok, no political party is perfect. But, as someone who isn’t part of any political party, I can’t help but think about the result I want to see. And, for me, the result isn’t the result of the election but what happens after. You know the sort of thing. I was glad that the Franklin wasn’t dammed. Or damned. But that was because everyone who wasn’t some Murdoch misled moron combined for a result.

So, having said all that, I had to wonder about Amanda Vanstone’s column in the paper today where she suggested that voting for independents didn’t achieve anything. She went on to say that minor parties weren’t much better.

I couldn’t help but wonder. Doesn’t she know that her party didn’t stand a candidate in Batman to help ensure that Labor would lose? Doesn’t she realise that they deliberately chose a strategy where there was no downside for the Liberals and that only Labor could be embarrassed? And yet, she advised people not to vote for anyone except a major party. And given there’s no Liberal candidate in Batman, that may be taken by some Liberal supporters in the electorate as an endorsement of Labor.

Strange bedfellows, indeed! She might as well have suggested writing “No Dams” on your ballot paper!


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  1. Jon Chesterson

    In the last election after distribution of forced ‘preferences’, the LNP won government with 5,693.618 votes, equal to 42 per cent of the votes, with 76 seats. Each seat required 74,916 votes.

    The Labor Party, with 4,702.314 votes, equal to 34.7 per cent of the votes, obtained 69 seats. Each seat required 68,149 votes.

    The Australian Greens, with 1,385,651 votes, equal to 10.2 per cent of the votes, obtained 1 seat. Each (the one seat) seat required 1,385,651 votes!

    If the Australian Greens were to be apportioned seats according to the Liberal and Labor formula afforded, they should have 18 – 20 seats and no single party would have a divine right to rule. But just one! Or put it another way 9.5% of the Australian population cast their mandatory vote and were ignored or the equivalent of not counted, that is approximately one quarter of everyone who voted Liberal or Labor nationwide… now that would be declared a scandal. So you can see why idiots like Amanda Vanstone declare a vote for Greens or Independents a wasted vote… because they won’t take their sorry arse off the self destruct button – the elephant in the room.

    Now you can piss in the wind, pragmatists versus idealists as much as you like, but any reasonable fair minded human being can plainly see this is not democracy, and if you insist it is because you are a pragmatist, then you are either deluded or a liar, and probably prepared to rationalise upon your mother’s grave or your father’s and your own children if you have any, the argument Amanda Vanstone might proffer, that we should just carry on as normal even if the world were to blow up tomorrow because she refuses to remove her pragmatic rear off the button that blew it up. This is not idealism talking, this is the voice of reason.

    Now the voice of reason would say, time to change the system. Another voice of reason might say, well Labor have a political and social responsibility to collaborate with the Australian Greens, form government in partnership with the Australian Greens, because they are the greatest beneficiary of the Australian Greens vote, because this would keep the Liberals out until they were forced to be more responsible, because if the Liberals can share power with the National Party, why in hell can’t Labor share power with the Greens? Instead of Labor attacking the Greens they owe it to Australia to be working with them and talking them up. The Australian Greens stand up for all those humanitarian, social, moral, just and reasonable policies Labor wish they had except they do not have the courage to fight for.

    And by the way, anyone remember what Amanda Vanstone did to refugees? What the hell did she ever do for Australia other than sit on it. Labor get off your arse and do something about it.

  2. Mick Coates

    Spot on Jon!!!!!

  3. lawrencewinder

    ….and I’ll extrapolate from that that you think Mandy “Il Patrone” is a ning-nong…. but then I’ve heard her meandering mind on the airwaves and waded through the turbidity of her prose occasionally ….and yep, you’re correct.

  4. Glenn Barry

    Great article Rossleigh – adore that metaphor about rising a tiger

    I’ve made a similar comment on another aimn post regarding this issue of Labor v Greens – I wish both Labor and the Greens could develop an actual working concept of the adage – the enemy of my enemy is my friend, because until they both achieve that they will continue to struggle to occupy the same space and squabble over scraps from the LNP’s table

  5. @RosemaryJ36

    There once was a lady from Niger
    Who smiled as she rode on a tiger
    They returned from the ride
    With the lady inside
    And the smile on the face of the tiger!

  6. paul walter

    Strange bedfellows indeed when a roll the wrong way ruins your love life forever.

  7. paul walter

    Why am I thinking Gina Rinehart?

  8. Christopher

    Yes spot on Jon.

    Ross, Labor could win in its own right if it adopted policies in the working man’s interest, in the interests of ordinary folk, regulating banks, reducing immigration, nationalising energy markets and other natural monopolies, taking care of the environment, raising the dole and the eligibility to get it, bringing back the pension age to something sensible. There is a long, long list of policy positions it could adopt, yet it takes the money (as it feels the party needs to be competitive) and then finds that its preferred policy positions are compromised.

    But, we don’t have enough taxes to pay for this? Start taxing corporations properly on revenue and make the rich pay their share; remove the trusts and other ‘vehicles’ that enable them to avoid their responsibilities to the rest of us. Or stop funding the deficit by borrowing – create the new money yourself instead of allowing the banks to create it by lending it to you with interest. Everyone with any common sense knows that taxes don’t pay for anything.

    Labor lite; has been all my adult life

  9. johno

    Well said Jon.

  10. Peter F

    Can anyone honestly say that a coalition of Liberal-Nationals is better for Australia than a coalition of ALP- Greens?

  11. Ricardo29

    The conservatives with their scare campaigns about the irresponsible Greens (Zed thingummy again on QandA last night) have terrified a lot of ignorant people, including many in Labor, into this “never in coalition” nonsense, and this, as others have pointed out, from a party which couldn’t govern without being in a coalition of its own. Hypocrisy writ large. I know a lot of Labor voters who put the Greens first knowing their prefs will end up with Labor. It would be in the best interests of Australia and both Labor and Greens to start a process of reversing the anti-Greens brainwash so that the idea of a Lab/Green affiliation wasn’t seen as toxic. Oh, and well said Jon Chesterton. And finally, how many bedfellows is/are Amanda Vanstone?

  12. Hotspringer

    Spot on Jon and Christopher.

  13. Christopher

    Thank you Hotspringer

  14. ozibody

    Thank you Rossleigh for this interesting article – and thanks also for the valid comments. To my mind this topic is well worthy of conversation.

    Reading elsewhere today I came across mention of … ” Socialist Left versus Industrial Left ” in Victoria ! … which caused me to simply shake my head —utter ‘ Fragmentation ‘ posing as ‘ factionalism ‘ & sponsored by the msm ! … Is it any wonder so many folk in Australia are deserting the major parties , to place their bets / votes elsewhere ?

    The minor players generally present a narrow front ( particularly in the Senate ) in competition with (say) the Labor party which is openly (& willingly) displayed in all the colours & positions of a rainbow ! … Detrimentally !! …Whilst I openly concede that voting for a ‘single issue ‘ competitor is a waste of time / vote , a ‘punter’ can believe in at least , a ‘ run for the money ‘ !

    Today’s neocon m.s.m. make the going very difficult for the likes of Labor ; the potential election result for Tasmania might sound a warning for the next Federal event ! (is the future to be like the game Monopoly / who has the most $ Money $ wins ? )…hung parliaments , in my view , are about as ineffective as slender majorities (unless it’s neocon !) . So the main question remains … ” where is the effective governance of the Australian Nation ” in all this.?

    Is Labor big enough to toss off the ‘factionalism’ labels & solidly present a united front on issues for the obvious National Benefit ??

  15. babyjewels10

    Dead right, Jon. Thank you.

  16. Andreas Bimba

    Although Bill Shorten has definitely improved the Labor Party, looking at the UK Labour Party situation, Labor are still more like Tony Blair than Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn has massive grassroots support, regularly addresses rallies in the thousands or tens of thousands and is likely to win the next UK general election after starting from a small base. Bernie Sanders in the US is equally popular and also presents a basically 1970’s social democratic message.

    I basically hear only silence from Labor on the execution of the Australian automotive industry which could have been retained with a promise by Labor to reinstate a 15% tariff but no, the mining industry’s and the banksters FTA’s are still more important. An estimated 200,000 direct and indirect jobs will be lost.

    Chris Bowen promises to be more fiscally responsible than the Conservatives. If you understand macroeconomics this is like cutting off your arms before entering the boxing ring.

    Rossleigh I’m not so sure the Galilee mega coal mines won’t proceed under a federal Labor government, especially if Queensland Labor are determined to proceed. Queensland may exit the federation?

    I won’t start to list Labor’s shortcomings because I probably align fairly well with their industrial left faction but with a green shade. Personally I don’t reject the concept of factions as some method of allocating power and policy direction is needed by all parties.

    The Greens and Labor are seperate teams and are right to compete and this is only fair for the Australian people to have worthy choices. Both parties definitely share the same enemies and at some point, perhaps already now, Labor will not be able to form an absolute majority and will have to share power with other minor parties and independents in order to govern.

    Further to Jon’s comment our current electoral system over-represents the Nationals and greatly under-represents the Greens. My old article from after the last federal election covers this.

    Our own House of Cards

  17. Wam

    What a beautiful read, Rossleigh.
    Vanstone was a liberal I could not help liking, despite her arseholeship. She wants to rid Australia of independents and minorities?
    My big sister was a frequent walker to Pedder in the 60s green from her gumboots to her long red hair and principled in her green beliefs.
    Di’s boys trade on her legacy but loosen her principles to fit the pragmatism of today. Be nice if the grins were less disingenuous about their aims?? They stand in every seat for cash?

    ps Andrea ‘old’ is right. Still the senate is proportional and we have long enjoyed situations like slimy X and silly fielding. The grins have enjoyed balancing for many years but, as they are so diminshed in this power, the pragmatic boys are suitably forward thinking or perhaps dreaming of a coalition with labor.
    My ‘old’ is democracy is 50% plus one.

  18. king1394

    Greens need to pay more attention to National Party held seats. Nationals only hold some seats because country voters won’t vote ALP and the agreement between Libs and Nats means that there is only one candidate. The Liberals are taking National Party seats where there are 3-cornered contests, which shows a willingness to get away from National Party representation. The Greens represent a lot of environmental values which are major concerns in country areas. Country people are very worried about soil and water degradation, quarantine matters, access to water (and resentful of major mining and agribusiness being given free access to large amounts of water). Greens need to see the openings and put some effort into country seats

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