Labor’s attack on the Greens shows sharp shift to the right
Federal Labor’s hopes that its carbon price handouts would lift its primary vote have proven futile, and as Labor policy and rhetoric moves further to the right, a section of the party has begun a full-blown assault on its alliance with the Greens.
The attack began as Victorian Labor decided to preference an ultra-conservative Family First candidate ahead of the Greens in a by-election in Melbourne. NSW Labor secretary Sam Dastyari followed this by saying he would move a motion at the coming NSW state conference to distance the party from the Greens and review Labor’s preference policy. He said Labor should put Greens candidates last because “the behaviour of the Greens when it came to the refugee debate was appalling, a refusal to budge on anything”.
Other Labor heavyweights quickly joined the attacks on the Greens for its refusal to back the offshore processing of asylum seekers. Not-so-faceless man and Australia Workers Union leader Paul Howes said on July 11 that the Greens were “extremist” and “a left-wing version of … Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party”.
Labor’s whip Joel Fitzgibbon said they were “the only grouping” that did not support “some form of offshore processing”. He said this was a problem because the Greens were attracting the vote of people who traditionally voted Labor.
Fitzgibbon got it, without quite getting it.
Since coming to power, Labor has steadily disillusioned almost all its traditional voters. Since taking government, Labor has kept much of the deeply unpopular Work Choices industrial laws intact.
Aboriginal communities showed their disgust at the 2010 election when Northern Territory communities living under the intervention gave the Greens the highest votes.
Migrant and refugee communities cannot help but feel betrayed by the federal government's willingness to join with the Coalition to stir up racist fears of “boat people” under the hypocritical language of concern for their lives and wellbeing.
Now, almost all Labor MPs support offshore processing and the notion of sending refugees to Malaysia after they arrive in Australia. This is against the Labor party platform.
Offshore processing simply means dumping refugees somewhere else than Australia. Labor is attacking the Greens for upholding the humanitarian principles that they have abandoned.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has now further capitulated to the Coalition, saying Labor supports a detention camp in Nauru and is willing to reintroduce temporary protection visas for refugees.
Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s policy is a pure rehash of the Pacific Solution, but it favours him to continue opposing Labor because it is so easy to spin the media to make the government look incompetent.
Liberal and Labor’s push for offshore processing is aimed at stoking prejudices among the Australian people. Both parties are committed to carrying out unpopular, pro-business policies. By making scapegoats of asylum seekers, the big parties seek to deflect criticism of their neoliberal agenda.