Political extremism generally doesn’t condone rape, murder or shootings to achieve stated aims, however it does promote that there is no tolerance for differing opinions or compromise.
A common statement from the conservative forces leading up to the last election was that the Australian Greens were extremists and more dangerous to Australia than either One Nation or United Australia Parties. While there is the over-exaggeration you would expect in urging not to ‘vote for the other bloke’ evident in the statement, they do have a point in that some parts of the Greens, One Nation and United Australia have extreme views.
It’s clear that One Nation has racist and bigoted overtones as well as some ‘interesting’ policies on other issues. United Australia has similar policies with a ‘leader’ that spent an estimated $60 million in an attempt to originally ‘win every seat in the country’, then when that didn’t happen, made a swift change in claimed rationale to ‘keep Labor out’ — probably the real aim for the entire exercise considering their ‘leader’ has interests in mining and not paying his staff.
The conservative argument that the Australian Greens have some extremists is also understandable. Regardless of his current status in the party, Bob Brown is seen as one of the leaders of the Greens. He was the public face of the ‘anti-Adani’ caravan of protest which left Tasmania en route to Clermont in Central Queensland (and close-ish to the site of the proposed Adani mine) in the middle of an election campaign. Brown and his fellow travellers apparently have opinions that climate change is a crisis and that the Adani mine should not go ahead because the economics don’t stack up, burning coal is unsustainable environmentally and renewable energy is the future. Essentially they have a point, but that point doesn’t justify their behaviour.
Presumptive ALP Deputy Leader Richard Marles also commented in a Sky News interview prior to the election that coal mining is economically unsustainable, a claim quickly rubbished by Morrison and the News Limited media. Interestingly soon after the election, a company in the process of obtaining a mining lease for the land next door to the proposed Adani mine announced they will allow their mining lease application to lapse as they can’t make a business case to continue development, adding further validity to the Greens’ and Marles’ point that coal mining is not economically justifiable.
But when a group of people choose to shove their opinions down the throat of others without compromise, as the ‘anti-Adani’ caravan sought to do, it is a demonstration of extremism. Like those that are addicted to alcohol or other drugs, ‘cold turkey’ immediate withdrawal from any form of mining coal as promoted by the ‘anti-Adani’ caravan has its own set of problems.
Brown doesn’t have the right to effectively tell a number of people that live in Central Queensland that their careers and therefore their homes, lifestyle and belief systems have to change immediately. Would those living in Sydney readily accept people from Central Queensland picketing Bondi Beach and demanding it be permanently closed as there is an ever-present health risk in swimming at that location due to the sewerage outfall in the area? Would those in Melbourne accept people from Central Queensland marching on Federation Square demanding the coffee culture in Melbourne be banned as increasing coffee consumption is detrimental to the environment and living conditions in places where forests are being bulldozed to plant coffee trees? Of course they wouldn’t — and why should they?
But Brown and his ‘caravan’ did exactly that in Central Queensland. They rolled into towns that are certainly not in ‘boom times’, having weathered a lot of economic changes in recent times due in part to drought and the cyclical nature of mining to tell everyone that their jobs and lifestyle should immediately and irrevocably change. Not subtle or conciliatory, is it?
Wouldn’t it be better to offer an alternative, or assist in a planned process to eliminate the problem? You can understand why some in Queensland voted for the smaller right-wing parties when ‘blow ins’ from ‘down south’, associated with progressive political parties rolled into town and then proceeded to lecture the locals on how to live their lives.
In any case, should mining of coal be immediately suspended due to environmental concerns, the government should be offering financial and psychological support to communities while managing a gradual transition into industries with greater environmental credibility. When Abbott’s refusal to support the motor vehicle industry in Victoria and South Australia directly caused the closure of production plants by three vehicle manufacturers, the Federal Government probably spent more to support those who worked in the production plants than the grants to the manufacturers would have been. Surely those in Central Queensland (and other mining regions around Australia) deserve the same consideration.
In short, the actions of Bob Brown and by implication the Australian Greens certainly didn’t help the ALP in Queensland at the 2019 election. The Greens need to learn the art of compromise before they are ready to govern anywhere in Australia. While in Brown’s and the Greens’ perfect world Australia should have closed all the coal mines and be powering the country by renewables by now, exporting technology and services to make up for the export revenue from mining and be paragons of environmental virtue — in reality it isn’t going to happen while people that should know better pull stupid, senseless and uncaring stunts such as the ‘anti Adani’ caravan.
The scary thing is that it’s not the first time Brown and the Greens have not seen the forest because of the trees. They voted on principle against former PM Rudd’s emissions reduction scheme in 2009 because the target range of 5 to 20% reduction didn’t go far enough. A 5 to 20% reduction was politically achievable and would have reduced emissions. Voting against the legislation meant a 0% reduction in emissions, which is what has occurred. ‘Principles’ don’t reduce emissions, legislation is far more effective.
As a result, the last 10 years of Australia fiddling while the earth burned is largely due to the Greens lofty principles overruling logic and understanding what can be achieved, together with absolutely no idea of how or when to compromise and gain part of what they want instead of nothing. And now the Coalition have been re-elected, there is no hope of effective action to reduce emissions in this country for at least another three years.
The conservatives are partly right, there are elements of the Australian Greens that are more extreme than One Nation or United Australia (who don’t seem to go marching into towns and telling them how to live). If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be ironic.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword.
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