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Give a little bit

There were two equally significant history making moments in Australian politics in the last week.The better known one was the ALP’s claiming of the seat of Aston from the Coalition in a by-election caused by the resignation of former Minister Alan Tudge. It is the first time that a federal government has won an additional seat from the opposition in 100 years, which suggests that despite the trials and tribulations of daily life and no doubt a concerted effort by every person or group wth an axe to grind, the Albanese Government is reasonably popular in Aston (a electorate based in suburban Melbourne).

The other history making event in Australian politics in the last week was the resignation of Councillor Jonathan Sriranganathan from the Brisbane City Council. Councillor Sriranganathan – better known as Jonno Sri – was the second elected Greens politician in Queensland, the first being Senator Larissa Waters. Last week Sri handed his seat in the Council over to fellow Greens member Trina Massey. Obviously Sri and the Greens felt that there was enough support for the Greens in his seat, rather than just him personally.

The Brisbane City Council is rather unusual in Australian politics as it is highly party politicised and controls a considerable part of the greater Brisbane area rather than just the inner City as Sydney and Melbourne’s Councils do. Brisbane City has a population of 1,264,024 in the local government area. As well as the usual roads, rubbish and recreation spaces, Brisbane CIty has considerable ability to influence planning and development policy in Queensland. Since the ALP claimed victory in the NSW state election a week or so ago, Brisbane’s LNP Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner is the leader of the largest government in Australia controlled by the the Coalition parties. While the Tasmanian Liberal Government controls a larger land mass, Tasmania’s population was estimated to be 567,909 in 2021 and the state’s budget is smaller than Brisbane City’s.

In The Guardian, Sri claims

“To be honest, we got kind of lucky that we won in the Gabba ward,” Sriranganathan reflects over a cup of chai on his houseboat in a muddy and mangrove-lined creek this week.

“But then that little green crack, we’ve been able to widen into something much bigger.”

Since Sri’s election and possibly despite his usual attire of scarves, mismatched socks and beanies he has seen the election of Greens members to state and federal parliaments from the southeast corner of Queensland. While Sri claim that the Greens could win a number of seats in the Brisbane City Council and maybe topple the LNP Lord Mayor is yet to be proven, the electors of the state and federal seats that are now coloured green around Brisbane obviously saw Sri’s regular incursions into the nightly news – either drawing attention to the lack of community services or getting arrested at protests against ‘over-development’ or mining – and liked what they saw.

One of the community services that Sri and other Greens have chosen to make a stand on is social and affordable housing. It shouldn’t have been a shock got anyone when the Greens federally drew the line in the sand when they thought the Albanese Government’s housing fund went nowhere near far enough. The Monthly recently reported that

Labor’s policy would reportedly provide up to $500 million per year to build up to 30,000 social and affordable homes over the next five years. The Greens want $5 billion annually, plus $1 billion for First Nations housing, and a national agreement to freeze rents.

According to the Productivity Commission, 176,000 households are on the social housing waitlist around the nation, with others suggesting the number is higher.

Despite the Prime Minister being justifiably proud of his heritage, which includes some time in social housing, the legislation to increase the funding of social housing across Australia has been withdrawn from Parliament rather than coming to some agreement with the Greens. As The Monthly reports

Labor doesn’t have a majority in the Senate; it must compromise if it wants to pass this and other legislation. But, by the same token, neither do the Greens. It’s not clear who is failing to come to the table, and we don’t know who has offered what – both sides have accused the other of failing to negotiate. But it is incumbent on both sides to do so, especially on an issue of this much importance.

These debates are getting extremely tiresome. We have a Labor government, with a progressive balance of power in the Senate. We have a housing crisis, which we all agree needs addressing. We have a shell of a Coalition that has made itself entirely irrelevant to the national debate. This shouldn’t be hard. It’s obvious that both Labor and the Greens are playing hardball – but could they please speed things up? All they have to do is put pride aside and meet somewhere in the progressive middle, taking into account their respective shares of the national vote, and perhaps, you know, the national interest.

The Aston by-election result tells us that the Coalition hasn’t improved its position since the 2022 election. On top of the 6% or thereabouts swing to the ALP this time, in 2022 when Tudge last contested the seat, he suffered a swing against him of around 7%. At the same time Tudge was losing support as a sitting Coalition member, the Greens were taking seats in Brisbane that no one outside the Greens thought they had a hope of winning. Former PM Rudd’s seat and two seats along the Brisbane River which include a lot of ‘old money’ suburbs that had been held by the LNP for years, are now represented on Capital Hill by the Greens. And while we probably won’t be talking about a Prime Minister coming from the Greens any time soon, if the ALP and Greens could work with each other rather than attempt to score political points we could be living in a country with a progressive federal government for years to come.

As the last decade demonstrates, progressive government sure beats the alternative.


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  1. Phil Pryor

    Education (which is actually self education) makes one (possibly) a progressive believer, on the grounds that all “greats” have contributed, often generously, to human progress. My personal outlook (perhaps yours? ) is conservative of clothes, eating, general behaviour, but, not in social and political affairs where one should be aware and considerate, turning the other cheek, doing unto others, and taking only a fair share, as earned and perceived. Australia has, too often, been brainlessly conservative, thus self opiniated, greedy, grasping, defensive, regional, narrow, unthinking using the known.., and so we must do better.

  2. RomeoCharlie29

    Although I generally vote Labor, I am with the Greens on this issue of social housing. Labor’s proposal falls horrendously short of what is needed. No doubt some bright sparks thought it would be a good idea to set up a fund, have it invest in (hopefully) profitable enterprises so it earns enough interest to be able to do something meaningful about the issue, but as we all know, investments don’t always have happy endings. This is just another disappointing proposition from a government which is either timid or deliberately delaying meaningful action in a raft of areas supporters like me hoped would see more aggressive action. These include whistleblower protection, real emissions reduction action not a warmed over coalition policy offering nonsense offsets, the dud subs deal, another preposterous coalition idea adopted without meaningful discussion of all the implications, failure to increase jobseeker which is universally agreed to be inadequate ( including by Albanese in opposition), the pathetic response to the resources profiteering and allied issue of tax avoidance, the pathetic proposal to cap superannuation balances for the obscenely wealthy, even the welcome moves like improved childcare have delayed implementation dates. The LNP showed their absolute disdain for fiscal rectitude with the huge ( but flawed) cash splash around Covid. A Labor government has essentially been given a licence to spend whatever it takes to improve the lives of those who are its real supporters. Do better Albo and crew.

  3. wam

    love it 2353 Not too sure about “the Greens were taking seats in Brisbane that no one outside the Greens thought they had a hope of winning. Former PM Rudd’s seat and two seats along the Brisbane River which include a lot of ‘old money’ suburbs that had been held by the LNP for years, are now represented on Capital Hill by the Greens.” The loonies have been close in Griffith since an intelligent loonie labor lad left labor because rudd messed with overseas detention and dragged enough labor with him In 22 enough idiot brisbane labor voters were conned by floods being lnked to the climate to tip the balance in brisbane. ps “no one outside the Greens thought they had a hope of winning” even idiots, like me, can understand our preference system. I have written this before but I do understand if poeple don’t read my posts or don’t understand my weird english. Let me put it as simple as I can for you. 50%+ seat won 50%- preferences are counted In Labor seats, if enough labor vote green so that they get in front of the lnp the greens win.. The greens can lie their arse off about anything whern talking door to door because every vote is cash to them. (they have honest principled people,unlike the bandit, who freely pay to be a loonies candidate and, I assume without proof, the party takes the AEC cash) ps A pollie trilogy??”The Greens want $5 billion annually, plus $1 billion for First Nations housing, and a national agreement to freeze rents.” Is an example of why Labor should make its members aware of how dangerous listening to the unsupported mouthings of the greens are to the labor system. Since 2009 when senile bobby voted thrice against a carbon price, lastly with the rabbott, notice the biblical reference of “three times”, we have had effall action. To vary the kings new clothes, it was like we were wandering around naked and rudd wanted us to put on shorts, a shirt and a hat but bobby’s children wanted a top hat and tails so we ended up still naked. With labor, the libs and the greens are strong on the bi-partisan definition that says if you don’t do it my way no votes.

  4. pierre wilkinson

    once again the greens demand half a cake or no cake at all, and how can you put a freeze on rents when interest rates, therefore costs, keep rising? will people with investment properties have to dip into their own funds to pay off the increasing mortgages on their properties, especially if said property is their superannuation guarantee?

  5. Andy56

    Pierre, the housing solution will involve pain from those that stand to gain from the status quo.
    The tools at our disposal will do the job but governments are not in the business of creating too many enemies.
    The first step is to kill demand. This will cause a lot of head aches for a while. But if we build up rental stocks first, i think it can be done. Once demand is dead, we can slowly climb back out of the pit.

    Just as we put limits on the poor with welfare limits, so we should with the means of the rich.
    If you want to own a hundred properties, thats fine, but you shouldnt expect any government assistance. NO tax dedctions or negative gearing rorts. Scare of the ramifications? What , your not scared of the status quo?

    Another interesting area of attack is suburban sprawl and building variations. We dont have enough mixed realestate. What we are building is a mono culture of design and intent. There is no revolutionary idea of what a house should be , its all the same same. Both in construction methods and size. At my stage of life and economic position here, i would be happy for a small two bedroom appartment close to work. I don’t need gold plated fittings nor a bath tub. On a simple quarter acre block, you could put ten of them in. Yes NIMBY is hard to overcome, but thats a cultural hang over from ” it affects my property value”. Not everyone wants your quaint suburban bick veneer so stop forcing it on everyone else. Yes there are issues but glory be, good designs are not hard to find like dark matter. If elon musk can turn the car industry upside down with innovation, we shouldnt have to struggle to get housing in the same mood.

    My morality take is that too often we let politicians off the hook. Solutions can be of any flavour but the best ones involve a plan with a direct line to the stated outcome. back to my pet project, “super”. How to fuckup everyones life with ideology busting ideology, instead of being smart. Everywhere i look, i see dumb “@’ts running the country. Would you let your lawyer operate on your heart? So why the f()$ do we vote the way we do? Our new friend senator Rennick comes to mind.

  6. leefe


    Rental properties are investments. Investment always comes with a risk; profit is never guaranteed.
    So, yes, mortgage holders on investment properties have to accept that this time their investment has not produced a profit. There is no fair or valid reason why they, and they alone, should be insulated from the inherent risk in investing money in the pursuit of profiit.

  7. Al

    pierre, as leefe points out, “investment comes with risk”, but also your statement that the gov has no right to freeze rents is true. After all, it’s supposed to be a free market. I know of landlords who don’t raise rents for years while others will use any excuse.
    These days the ‘housing market’ bears more resemblance to a Soviet-era govt-guaranteed industry rather than a free market. The ‘State’ picks the winners in this rent-seeking economy via its proxy selection panel – the lending banks. Banks don’t care if borrowers over-extend themselves in their boyish-girlish optimism to get rich quick. Borrowers can survey the economic landscape & allow for an interest rate buffer, but some didn’t.
    Australia has a massive private debt resting on the shifting sands of what the Reserve Bank will do next. That decision will be influenced to a large degree by the Bank of International Settlement. And who can forget what the long game of the BIS is? In the words of Gen Manager Augustin Carstens, the epitome of the long lunch: “We don’t know who’s using a $100 bill today and we don’t know who’s using a 1,000 peso bill today. The key difference with the CBDC is the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability, and also we will have the technology to enforce that.” NB the last 8 words in that sentence.
    A lot of people are in for a shock when they see the rules of the game are not being written by anyone who has your best interest at heart.

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