Green Victory I The most striking thing about the Greens victory in the seat of Melbourne is not that it is their first lower house seat at a federal election. More significant is that more than 11% of the vote for the Greens results in less than 1% of the seats. In theory, a party could receive 20% or 30% of the vote and get no seats whatsoever. It is time that Australia moved to a more democratic proportional representation system where parties are represented in proportion to their level of support among the people. Alex Bainbridge Perth
Voters’ stunning rejection of both major parties has left neither likely to form a government in its own right. Whichever party governs, it will have to rely on the support of at least three and probably four independents, with Andrew Wilkie's chance of taking Denison from Labor firming.
"It seems that the whole narrative of politics is going through a seismic shift”, said Greens lead candidate for the NSW upper house at the 2011 state election, David Shoebridge at an August 25 forum discussing the post-election political landscape. Shoebridge told the meeting, which was organised by Socialist Alliance, that the result would impact on upcoming state elections in Victoria and NSW. In NSW, Labor is particularly hated.
In April 2009, Kevin Rudd, then Labor prime minister, announced the National Broadband Network (NBN), a massive infrastructure project to provide high-speed network access to 93% of Australia, with satellite access for the rest. Rollout of the network began in Tasmania in July. 2009. Operations began in some other areas in July 2010.
Liberal member for Dunkley, Bruce Billson, has been left fighting for his political life after the recent federal election. The Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) Action Group targeted his electorate during the election campaign.
For John, a Socialist Alliance member in his nineties, it was “the best election result in my lifetime”. He was referring to the political impact of a hung parliament and a record vote for the Greens. From the top of the stairs at a polling booth in inner-western Sydney’s once safe, now marginal, seat of Grayndler, John waved the Socialist Alliance’s “how to vote” card to the queued voters and campaigners. His defiant gesture towards the numerous ALP booth workers was a metaphor for the Socialist Alliance’s campaign across the country.
Rather than giving us the government we deserve, the August 21 federal election delivered an outcome the two old parties deserved. Because both Labor and the Coalition focused on negative campaigning, sloganeering and scapegoating refugees and other minorities, a large number of voters decided to vote for alternatives with some vision. A hung parliament with the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate was only a partial reflection of this growing disenchantment with the two-party system.
By denying both the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the the Liberal-National coalition an outright majority in primary votes and in House of Representatives seats, Australian electors voted “neither of the above” for the traditional parties of government. This followed an election campaign in which the major parties conducted an ugly race to the right, most notoriously by scapegoating the few thousand desperate refugees who attempt to get to Australia on boats.
Unexpectedly, it seems to me, a great opportunity for social change has emerged. This might seem strange, with another neo-fascist on the verge of becoming Australian Prime Minister. However remember that real change comes from widespread social participation, over longer periods.
Greens candidate for Mackellar Dr Jonathan King is a blue-blooded radical. King gained national prominence in 1988 when he staged an $11 million recreation of the First Fleet's voyage. The historian and former journalist became, in his own words, “political hot property,” courted by both major parties. He declined their overtures. Politics “was in [his] blood”, King said, but he was “too radical” for the major parties. Following the bicentennial voyage, King found his “next big project, and that was helping the environment”.
Sick of the manipulative, increasingly policy-free barrage of major party negative advertising in the race to the August 21 Australian federal election? Here are some antidotes: First, check out the table below comparing the policies of Socialist Alliance with that of the Greens, ALP and Liberals: Policy comparison from Left to Right compiled by Dick Nichols. Second, have a look at the independent Vote Climate survey on which parties the best policy on on climate change.
The Liberal Party has pulled controversial Google advertisements after criticism and complaints from candidates standing against them. When Google users searched for the names of many candidates running in lower-house seats — including Socialist Alliance candidate for Cunningham, Jess Moore, who raised the issue in the national media — the first link to appear was a sponsored link to a Liberal Party website.
PERTH — ‘We are running because the Labor and Liberal parties do not represent the interests of ordinary people’, said Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth Alex Bainbridge at the launch of SA’s campaign. ‘We're struggling to build a movement that can more effectively represent the interests of ordinary people on some of the big issues that we face. These issues include climate change, workers’ rights, the shameful policies that governments are taking towards refugees and towards Aboriginal people.’
Lesser evilism — whereby one votes for a party defensively, because at least they are not as bad as the alternative — is a three-card trick that the Labor Party is very skilled at using. In this election campaign, the very real threat of a Tony Abbott Coalition government is allowing Labor to establish the framework of a very harsh second term while scaring voters with the warning that the alternative would be even worse.
Liberal leader and extreme conservative Tony Abbott, who famously described climate change as “absolute crap”, is looking dangerously close to becoming prime minister on August 21. The prospect of a government headed by a Christian fundamentalist nicknamed “the mad monk” has struck dread into many progressive-minded people. The August 7 Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Herald/Nielson poll showed the Liberal/National Coalition had increased its lead in the primary vote to 44% to Labor’s 36%. Coalition led Labor 51% to 49% on a two-party preferred basis.
Some of the Illawarra’s foremost fighters for social justice have backed Socialist Alliance candidate Jess Moore in the seat of Cunningham on the New South Wales south coast. Highly regarded, veteran trade unionists Monica Chalmers, Neville Arrowsmith, Jim Keogh and Ken McBride, who have all spent decades in union and solidarity campaigns, have endorsed Moore and are helping her campaign. Moore is a well-known community activist who is national coordinator of the socialist youth organisation Resistance.