At a September 7 Green Left Weekly forum, Andrew Bartlett and Ewan Saunders spoke about the possibilities that have opened for the progressive movements since the election. Bartlett was Greens candidate for the seat of Brisbane in the recent federal elections. E Saunders contested the same seat for Socialist Alliance.
Bartlett gained 21% of the primary vote, a swing of 10%. He gave an assessment of the voting results.
“There was a huge swing against Labor in the central Brisbane region. Two-thirds of this loss went to the Greens, with around 85% going back to the ALP in preferences. There is even greater disillusionment with Labor at the state level, which means a big opening for the Greens at the next state election.
“One important aspect of the new situation is the role of civil society in pushing for urgent positive changes or blocking dangerous laws. Issues like the war in Afghanistan, asylum seekers, action on climate change, improvements in industrial relations legislation, and Indigenous rights can be pushed for, taking advantage of the new parliamentary balance of forces.”
Saunders noted that the two major parties had engaged in a "race to the right". This had caused “a large section of Labor's traditional base to desert the ALP to the left, to the Greens mainly. They voted “neither of the above” to the ALP and the Coalition.
“There is now a good opportunity for social change … There is the potential for the left to respond to new openings in the changed political situation.
“There will now be pressure from the corporate sector on the Greens, but also pressure from the mass base.
“Socialist Alliance will continue to help build movements for social justice. Now is the time to re-launch the movement for urgent action on climate change. There is now an increased opening for co-operation between the socialist and green movements to campaign for real social change in this country.”