Greens election success causes stir

Issue 

BY ALEX BAINBRIDGE

HOBART — The Greens’ success in the July 20 Tasmanian elections — in which they won four seats — has been warmly received in the lunchrooms of many workplaces. By contrast the establishment is not comfortable with the devastating rout of the Liberal Party.

Nobody can deny that “the Greens are back”, although most corporate media commentary is focused on how to rebuild the Liberals — something that is presented as an almost inevitable (if not speedy) eventuality.

Wayne Crawford, a liberal columnist, began the campaign to strengthen the Liberals. Writing in the July 21 Sunday Tasmanian he said: “the fact that the official opposition is now so weak and will be into the foreseeable future leaves Tasmanian politics in an awfully unhealthy state”. He added: “Labor, without a strong and co-ordinated opposition, will find it easy to become increasingly complacent and arrogant.”

Crawford paid the obligatory compliments to the Greens, but implied that only the Liberals could be a strong opposition to Labor. In fact, many will be hoping that the parliamentary “opposition to Labor” is now stronger than it has been for a long time, since the Greens’ policies and practice is much more “oppositional” than the Liberal Party has been.

At the same time as trying to rejuvenate the Liberals, the government and corporate commentators appear to want to tame the Greens with bribes and appeals to “respectability”. As early as July 21, Premier Jim Bacon offered Greens leader Peg Putt a chauffeur to reflect the party’s new status.

The July 24 Mercury editorial argued that the Greens “will now need to adopt a more subtle and pragmatic approach than candidate Kim Booth who bellowed 'screw you [deputy premier] Paul Lennon’ at the party’s policy launch” and “the party cannot afford to squander the goodwill [Putt] has built up by taking self-righteous, even truculent stands”.

On the key issue of old-growth forests, Bacon has announced a continuation with Labor’s current woodchip policy.

From Green Left Weekly, July 31, 2002.
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