A response to Callen Sorensen Karklis’ article titled “Saving DEMOCRACY within the Labour [sic] Movement”.
Callen, I applaud your idealism and hope you find an outlet in the Greens movement ; even so, I would be inclined if I were you to keep up your ALP membership.
In recent times my own positive feelings towards the Greens have been eroded when they have chosen to align themselves with the coalition and One Nation to thwart government (usually Labor) policy. It may well be that the Greens were seeking the perfect in their policies and in their opposition to the ALP but be assured that the coalition and One Nation had no higher ambition than opposing for the sake of opposing.
You will recall that the Greens stood out on Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009 because the Greens wanted more ambitious targets. By siding with a cynical climate change denying coalition and One Nation the CPRS went down in the Senate effectively blocking climate action for another ten years and in the interim emissions have continued to increase.
The new Labor government recently decided that the best way to tackle the national deficiency in public and social housing was to institute an ongoing fund similar to the Future Fund to be known as the ‘Housing Australia Future Fund’. The idea was that the government on our behalf would invest $10 billion and spend the projected annual earnings of $500 million – a modest earning rate of five percent per annum – to build 30,000 affordable, social housing projects each year. Initially the greens, egged on by their fair-weather friends in the coalition and One Nation, criticised the scheme as being reliant on ‘gambling on the stock market’ with no guarantee of achieving the projected half billion dollars each year. David Pocock, Jacqui Lambie and the Teals not wanting to see this project go down, negotiated with the government to guarantee that any shortfall in the yearly earnings would be made up from other revenue sources and that the half billion dollars would be a floor rather than a ceiling ; Pocock succeeded in having the government index the fund outlays to the CPI.
Still the Greens and their mates in the coalition blocked the passage of the legislation saying that the fund would take too long to start generating funds and that immediate action on public housing was required. The government then announced that an immediate injection of $2 billion would be made available, divided between the states and territories to get housing projects underway ; this was applauded by the HIA and the Master Builders but still the Greens held out and would not allow passage of the Future Fund legislation (fortunately this blocking did not delay the implementation of the $2 billion allocation). The legislation has now been deferred until the Spring session of parliament, in October, further delaying the full implementation of the Housing Australia Future Fund.
It should be noted that the improvements to the scheme, which the Greens are claiming credit for, were in fact achieved by collaborative work between the Teal Independents, the Jacquie Lambie Network and consistently the steady influence of David Pocock (yes, I’m a fan !).
But the Greens continue to hold out and demand that the government impose a rent freeze on all residential housing across the nation.
Naturally the coalition and their hangers on are delighted at this impasse and they know full well as do the Greens, that the federal government have no constitutional power to impose a national rent freeze even if they wanted to. Any rent freeze would have to be implemented by the states and territories who have already said that they would not do so. The ACT already have a rental cap system that limits rent increases to one hundred and ten percent of the CPI each year – so with a CPI at seven percent renters in the ACT expect rents to increase by 7.7% this year – some economists criticise the simplicity of the ACT scheme and are not convinced that it is viable or that it helps renters. Additionally, as some of the state Premiers have noted, rental controls will inevitably slow the flow of private equity into rental housing construction (build to rent) as investors look for other ways to make their money work for them, free of government controls.
For the record it should also be noted that the state and territory governments independently spend money on social housing which, collectively was $4.6 billion in 2021-2022.
The Greens in their current quest for the perfect at the expense of the good need to look at the motives of their bedfellows, the coalition and One Nation, who will avidly support blocking government legislation but not necessarily for honourable or noble reasons.
Callen, my advice, keep your ALP membership in your back pocket, it may prove useful in the future and don’t forget the Independents.
Good Luck !
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.
You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969