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It’s time for consensus

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

After the 2022 Federal Election result over a week ago it’s time for Labor, the Greens, and the Teal Climate 200 MPs to build a bridge and face up to their differences and learn to work together in the 47th Parliament of Australia.

Particularly as the Greens will now have 16 seats [Figures 2 and 3] in the Parliament and the Teals at a record 9 elected at last weekend’s federal election putting their number at 10 seats in the parliament. Labor will have to work with the Greens and Teals to pass legislation in the Senate. In mostly Coalition seats once held by their moderate wing, Teals did exceptionally well. Liberal heartland has been almost decimated in a teal wave in some cities. The Coalition has seen its worst defeat in over 70 years of its existence putting the tally of 17 seats lost. Based on these statistics this could very well mean the Coalition has a lot of soul searching these next few years and could give Labor a real chance to govern for 2 terms.

That said for this to happen both Labor, and the Greens must reflect on their relationship forward and learn from the 2010 – 2013 period that was the first Labor/Greens federal accord. If both parties don’t work together, it gives incoming Opposition Leader Peter Dutton the edge he needs to get into the lodge, and I imagine all progressives Australia wide want to avoid that nightmare possibility. Yes, Labor and Greens could have worked better together in 2009 to pass the emissions trading which could have avoided the rise of Abbott and the climate wars. But that said that is the past! This is the now, and to avoid history repeating itself we must have Labor and Greens accept the will of the people and move forward with real action on climate change. This includes incorporating the Teals in those discussions as well, they cannot be ignored.



Grassroots Campaigning!

In Qld the Labor vote went backwards, it lost a seat and didn’t gain any more sets out of the 4 seats it already has (Blair, Moreton, Oxley, and Rankin). It failed to gain any seats in North and Central Qld, and it lost a seat Griffith to the Greens while Labor’s national swing wasn’t enough to gain extra seats in areas that Labor used to win with ease during federal election swings.

What is clear with the way the Greens campaigned was how clever they were with encapsulating policy issues that Qld Labor wasn’t scratching through on its radar. Case in point yes, the environmental issues like the Ramsar wetlands issue at Toondah in the Redlands was a perfect example of the Greens pushing for the stereotypical “Greens” narrative of protecting the environment. But the reason why their vote has skyrocketed in Inner Brisbane seats is also arguably the way they targeted issues on the rental market crisis during the pandemic, Centrelink pay rates, public housing, and including dental in Medicare.

One thing I’ve noticed in recent years particularly during the pandemic is how groups have emerged in the labour movement running grassroots campaigns. Such as the AUWU (Australian Unemployed Workers Union) who advocated for better Centrelink pay rates for the unemployed and against mutual obligations. Or the RAFFWU (Retail and Fast-Food Workers Union) advocating for better working conditions for their members. Interestingly enough many of the organizers who would traditionally be from working backgrounds also have had roots within the Greens movement as well. While as the Teals have focused on primarily winning the middle-class economic voters which is what some of the Greens have also succeeded in doing as well. The Greens won their seats by door knocking 90,000 homes in federal divisions. While another campaigned on dating apps like Grindr to target the LGBTIQ community to vote for him.

Greenslide? And Victory


Newly elected Greens MPs Max Chandler Mather (Griffith), Elizabeth Watson Brown (Ryan), Stephen Bates (Brisbane), newly elected Senator Penny Allman Payne and Senator Larissa Waters (above). Newly elected Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (below); Election Night 21 May 2022.



Curtin and Gillard’s example

Labor has come to power federally before during two terms of government historically when hung parliaments have occurred. Both under wartime Prime Minister John Curtin in 1941 and Julia Gillard in 2010. Both capable leaders of fine quality from the labour movement and edged into Labor legend. Curtin who led Australia through its darkest hour and Gillard who was Australia’s first woman leader who passed a record number of legislation in any parliament to date that helped pave the way for a better life for all Australians.

But people forget that in 1940s federal election two of the Independents Alexander Wilson and Arthur Coles (founder of the supermarket chain Coles and Mayor of Melbourne 38 – 40) who backed Coalition PM Robert Menzies, and later dumped his successor Arthur Fadden in favour of Labor leader John Curtin. Curtin led Australia through its darkest days when Imperial Japan attacked Australia and forged the precursor to ANZUS in the form of the American alliance. Curtin also engineered the road map to full employment, post war recovery with immigration and improved social security. Curtin was rewarded by winning the 1943 federal election in a landslide by 49 seats of the 38 needed to govern in those days. Curtin died in office but was succeeded by Labor leaders and Prime Minister Frank Forde and Ben Chifley.

Julia Gillard came to office after challenging Kevin Rudd to the leadership, but Labor’s vote went backwards despite the success of Labor leading Australia through the GFC. Gillard maintained power with support of supply from Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott, and Tony Windsor and the Australian Greens who won the seat of Melbourne and maintained the balance of power in the Senate. Gillard’s tenure saw the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as well as record funding in education, apologized to people from forced adoptions, Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, tobacco plain packaging, flood levy for the 2010-2011 Qld Floods, and introduced carbon pricing.

Now if Anthony Albanese’s government doesn’t maintain the magic 76 seats majority number status for Labor at some point in future years by chance or a future election sees any minimal losses. Albo will have to work hard with both the Greens, Teal backed MPs and other independents to maintain power and supply. Considering the sheer record size in the crossbench and reduced size of the Coalition it’s a certainty for Labor to maintain power. But all sides will have to work together to ensure policy development and progressive outcomes are reached. If this doesn’t occur its back to square one, particularly in times such as ours where public trust in politicians and government has deeply eroded. Voters want action and results! They want consensus.

Success in Local Government

Considering the Greens have won 8 top positions in Victoria’s local government levels in its metro area. 3 Mayors, and 5 Deputy Mayors. In recent times the Greens also held 5 city areas with Mayors in NSW. In the City of Sydney 2 Greens have previously served as Deputy Mayor Chris Hayes (2006 – 2007) and Irene Doutney for 6 – 7 months in 2016. Hobart in Tasmania currently has a Deputy Mayor who is a Green, Helen Burnett. In Redlands City Council an alliance of Labor, Greens, and Independent progressive Crs in 2008 – 2012 worked well together sharing several portfolios under the tenure of Independent Labor aligned Mayor Melva Hobson. The Greens were responsible for the Water and Waste role in the civic cabinet. It can be argued that the Greens growing influence in Local government is a key driver for their success particularly on local environmental issues and civic matters as well. This was a key driver that made the ALP a success historically. Take Brisbane for example during the Joh era under the Nationals, Labor pushed for a successful campaign under Labor Mayor’s Clem Jones, Bryan Walsh, Frank Sleeman, and Roy Harvey from 1961 – 1985. Labor also had a strong following in Ipswich, Moreton Shire, Gympie and other central and north regional areas. If Labor and Greens wish to have any success, they must build up their profiles in civic government.

The Gradual Rise of the Greens

The Coalition has lasted as long as it has for the conservative side of politics because one defining fact, the Liberals who represented middle – class voters (Menzies quiet Australians). While as the Nationals party (formerly the Country party) represents the interests of the agricultural interests of rural Australia. As the Greens continue to push beyond 1 million people voting for them at every Federal election it’s clear that Labor and the Greens may need to face this reality as the conservatives did in 1923. At the same time the Greens must adapt to not only transforming from the party of protest but one into one of government much in the same way Qld Labor had too in 1989 after 32 years of Coalition rule on a state level under “Sir Joh”. Compared to Labor’s vote the Greens [Figure 4] have been trending better than the Australian Democrats of the 1980s – 1990s [Figure 5] but a lesson could be learnt from the Democrats demise in 2004 – 2007 over the GST when the Democrats assisted the Howard governments agenda on economics. There are also lessons in the NZ Ardern Government in (2017 – Present). And the German Greens and social democratic SPD (1998 – 2005) and more recently (2021 – Present) under Scholz (SPD) with Vice Chancellor Habeck in the Greens. Considering the record decline of the major party primary votes [Figure 6] it would be wise for Labor to take Teals and the Greens on seriously as well locally.

Greens in Balance of Power:

  • Labor – Green Accord (1989 – 1992): Tasmania
  • Greens held 5 seats
  • Labor held 13 seats
  • Greens Liberal Alliance (1996 – 1998): Tasmania
  • Greens held 4 seats
  • Liberals held 14 seats
  • Greens and Labor ACT (2008 – 2012)
  • Greens held 4 seats
  • Labor held 7 seats

Greens in State Government:

  • Tasmania (2010 – 2014)
  • Greens held 5 seats
  • Labor held 10 seats
  • Nick McKim and Casey O’Connor served as ministers during this period
  • ACT (2012 – Present)
  • Greens held 1 seat in 2012, 2 seats in 2016, and 6 seats in 2020
  • Labor held 8 seats in 2012, 12 seats in 2016, and 10 seats in 2020.
  • Shane Rattenbury served as a government minister during this period

Greens in State Parliament NSW:

  • 1 elected in 2011, and 3 in 2015 in lower house
  • 2 elected in 2007, 5 in 2011, 5 in 2015, 3 in 2019 in the upper house

Greens in State Parliament Qld:

  • Ronan Lee (2008 – 2009): Indooroopilly
  • Michael Berkman (2017 – Present): Maiwar
  • Amy MacMahon (2020 – Present): South Brisbane

Greens in Brisbane City Council:

  • Jonathan Sri (2016 – Present): The Gabba Ward

Greens in Redlands City Council:

  • Debra Henry (2004 – 2012): Division 3
  • Paul Bishop (2012 – Present): Division 10
  • Adelia Berridge (2020 – Present): Division 9

The Rise of the Teal(s)

  • Andrew Wilkie (2010 – Present)
  • Cathy McGowan (2013 – 2019)
  • Helen Haines (2019 – Present)
  • Zali Steggall (2019 – Present)
  • Kate Chaney (2022 – Present)
  • Zoe Daniel (2022 – Present)
  • Monique Ryan (2022 – Present)
  • Sophie Scamps (2022 – Present)
  • Kylea Tink (2022 – Present)
  • Allegra Spender (2022 – Present)
  • David Pocock (2022 – Present)

The Teals that came about from the 2012 – 2013 Voices for Indi movement removing former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella in the federal seat of Indi. Former Greens and Liberal members like Andrew Wilkie appealed to middle class and environmentalist voters gradually during the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison coalition years (2013 – 2022) particularly with women voters who engaged with the successful election of women candidates during the 2022 federal election after sexual harassment allegations rocked the Morrison government. Hence their success in parliament due to the large woman vote towards them [Figure 1]. Many of these candidates campaigned strongly on social progressive issues, climate change and presented as economic conservatives. It would be foolish for either major party to write off their influence in any upcoming Parliament.



Callen Sorensen Karklis

Bachelor of Government and International Relations

Callen is a Quandamooka Nunukul Aboriginal person from North Stradbroke Island. He has been the Secretary of the Qld Fabians in 2018, and the Assistant Secretary 2018 – 2019, 2016, and was more recently the Policy and Publications Officer 2020 – 2021. Callen previously was in Labor branch executives in the Oodgeroo (Cleveland areas), SEC and the Bowman FEC. He has also worked for Cr Peter Cumming, worked in market research, trade unions, media advertising, and worked in retail. He also ran for Redland City Council in 2020 on protecting the Toondah Ramsar wetlands. Callen is active in Redlands 2030, Labor LEAN, the Redlands Museum, and his local sports club at Victoria Pt Sharks Club. Callen also has a Diploma of Business and attained his tertiary education from Griffith University.

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  1. Lambchop Simnel


    Iv’e a pet theory that the Greens have the missing chunk of the ALP, for a long time.

    It is ok for Labor to talk of jobs, jobs jobs, because the recessions of the seventies and early eighties along with automisation put too many folk out of work (how do I know?).

    But isn’t capitalism, the way it operates in our time, so draining of wealth for investment in actually productive industry that the Greens have been right to question wastage and suggest a rational problem exists as to environment at the beginning of s Permian- intensity Great Die. A resulting resulting investment drain and neoliberalist offshoring of wealth and work, driven by an unconscious selfish individualism.may be impossible to reverse, so we have to think of other ways of increasing value, such as cutting back on the overwhelming downstream loss to employment creation in more effective technologies denied investment.

    Equally, the Greens, younger, more idealistic and less comprehending of what capitalism is despite the evidence of harmed enviroment and the problems it has introduced solving other problems or just chasing a quick buck. Due to dumbing down they have failed to answer clearly enough on the fate of working labor and communities through withdrawal of jobs and the scourge of unfairly apportioned welfare.

    The Greens have to understand there are reasons why things can’t change over night in many cases because of the way things have been set, particularly overthe last decade.

    Equally, the ALP must work to find more legitimate forms of funding than from vested interests, often even to halt genuinely destructive.practices, if only because of mounting down stream costs to the community repairing harms from ill considered projects.

    This log jam, so exacerbated by taloid MSM and huge vested int5erests, holds the possibility of the Greens and Labor working together to deal with a deluded current enemy with strange ideas, booted out in one emanation, at the Federal election a fortnight ago.

    The main task will be to finally rid the poblic of the nonsense that enviro and jobs are somehow exclusively binary or oppositional to each other.

  2. New England Cocky

    Why do almost all political commentators discuss revenue and payments to Australian voters without researching & commenting upon Feral government expenditure?

    The huge payouts straight into the profit lines of corporations, especially foreign owned multinational fossil fuel & mining corporations is just government largess to but corporate funding for the party. AS many of these corporations only rarely pay Australian taxation, perhaps it is time for more consideration to be given to natural persons who are Australian voters. Corporations do not yet vote in Australia.

    So, to tap the gold mine of foreign exchange transactions a surcharge could be placed on all overseas money movement exceeding $10 MILLION at the rate of 0.01% or $1.00 in every $1,000.00 to fund hospitals, public transport, public infrastructure and other activities that increase productivity.

    Australia is a stable social and economic economy without civil disturbances (except COALition misgovernments) to interrupt the flow of profits, and those foreign corporations should pay for the right of doing business in Australia.

  3. Josephus

    A most learned and useful essay enabling an infinitely better understanding of our political landscape than the useless, bilious fulminations of some posts. Thank you Callen.

  4. wam

    Consensus vs inclusive. The labor system is consensus in the party room and solidarity in the house debate with some room for amendments.

    The floor of the parliament is for debate which may or may have been inclusive before tabling? Labor must include independents and should include all the parties by, at least, controlling not gagging debate. That will be difficult, with negativity of the current leaders of the opposition parties and extremists, making gagging hard to resist. Long term independent Wilkie, or even the bandit himself, could make an excellent speaker? ps As an old teacher, I love your column graph. It makes an extremist party look viable but you would need a couple of A1s to show a major party?

  5. wam

    Dear Mr Karklis,
    Sadly, I often write before any real thoughts kick in.
    Over 50 years ago, I had a union task and my fellow unionist was a Galiwinku man(in those days Elcho).
    I was a complete bullying arsehole.
    Neither inclusiveness nor a skerrick of consensus formed the outcomes.
    Fully aware that I was never going to listen, he endorsed my words.
    I had bullied a lovely clever teacher into a resigned yes to a conclusion that was rubbish.
    Since then I speak when spoken to at meetings or I ask questions and wait patiently for an answer or not.
    I once drove a young man, an expert on the digeridoo, to Barunga(Bamyili), Just before katherine he said ‘Sir can you stop for a drink at macdonalds, please?’ When we got to his home he said ‘Thank you for the lift, Mr Moir’.
    Your consensus is ultra inclusive without any requirement to vote. That requires patience and listening skills that may not be found in canberra?

  6. Lambchop Simnel

    Liked Nec’s take.


    Because the neolibs have a more medieval approach to civilisation. Have a think what the euphemism “2-speed economy” REALLY means. Methinks there is a profound change in economic and pol economic structure that has, through technology and its (mis)use- the mentality in control)- including consent manufacture techniques running to dumbing down.

    This century switched society from being merely plural to outright oligarchic- except many folk don’t :get” who the real oligarchs are.sany more than they would know who Reagan and Thatcher.were.

  7. John Lord

    A great read Callem.

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