We’ve asked about it before and it’s time to ask it again. What’s with the Greens’ pre-election hype? The big parties talk down their expectations. The Greens don’t.

The big parties want to look like underdogs. The Greens, presumably, still need to convince people that they’re legit – and urge them to get with the strength. But the results simply don’t match the rhetoric.

That’s not a huge difficulty in politics. Reality scarcely measures up to rhetoric in campaigns. But the Greens are supposed to be honest brokers. And commentators trust the parties to give them at least half an accurate steer.

Now, after the Greens’ poor poll performance in Victoria, is a backlash beginning?

“Small smile for Beazley, big frown for Brown,” a headline in The Age read yesterday. The copy wasn’t kind:

But there was one big loser in the federal arena last night and that was Greens leader Senator Bob Brown, whose overblown rhetoric about the Greens stealing a clutch of seats came to little. The Greens’ vote went backwards yesterday – a major embarrassment for Brown, who put his heart and soul into the Greens campaign.

The real question now is just how influential will the Greens be in next year’s federal election?

They were a flop in 2004, they were a flop yesterday and all indications are that the Greens will flop again at the 2006 federal election.

If they’re going to get their hands dirty, the Greens may need to learn about honour and thieves.

Peter Fray

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