By Dick Nichols
SYDNEY — One week into the campaign for the May 25 state elections, boredom, indifference and suspicion with the major parties reign supreme. The latest polls show a small increase in Liberal/National support (up to 35%) with Labor stagnating at 30%. A quarter of the electorate still doesn't know whom to vote for.
However, support for the Greens is beginning to build. Green candidates are reporting a sympathetic hearing. Canvassers for Bruce Welch, South Sydney Greens candidate for the seat of Marrickville, reported that voters in traditional Labor parts of the electorate were fed up with being taken for granted by Labor and were supportive of the Green platform.
The Marrickville electorate covers St Peters, site of an explosion and fire at an LPG plant last year and also of an asbestos-impregnated building material "recycling plant".
The South Coast Trades and Labor Council has invited Illawarra Greens candidates Steve Brigham (Wollongong) and Carol Medcalfe (Bulli) to address its next meeting. According to Medcalfe, this is the first time the council has invited non-Labor candidates to address it and may even be a first for Australia.
This growth of working-class support for the Greens takes place against a background of a media blackout of Green (and even Democrat) campaigns. Where Green politics is mentioned, it is linked exclusively to the environment — and that, we are being told, was a passing fad which the recession has killed.
This "theory" is being exposed by the local Green campaigns, all of which point out that the proper repair and care of the environment will create the jobs that our present model of economic development is destroying.
Support for the Greens campaign is also coming from the environment movement. The Wilderness Society is calling for a vote for Greens or Democrats, and the Wolli Creek Preservation Society, leader of the fight against the F5 freeway, has also called for a vote for the Greens.
Last week the Greens and Democrats reached a preference swap agreement for the Legislative Council, the NSW upper house. This increases the chances of blocking the election of a Liberal-Call To Australia majority, which would be free to pass Greiner's anti-union laws, the trigger for this election.