Ok, so he’s the high priest of the new nature cult all right thinking people are supposed to pay fealty to – but Greens leader Bob Brown is also a politician. He’s been a politician for more than twenty years, in two separate parliaments. So why won’t he admit it?

Yesterday, the Greens’ precious leader tipped a bucket all over Peter Garrett in the Senate – for being a politician, too: “This new Peter Garrett is an anti-Green campaigner who supports Labor policies…” No! What a horror! A Labor politician – a Labor frontbencher – supports Labor policies! Who would have ever thought it?

At least Brown made his motivation for the attack on Garrett clear: “I raise this matter because of Peter’s intervention in the Victorian elections last week. I was there when he came, and went, to lobby for the Labor Party in the marginal seat of Melbourne.”

Gosh! Another horror! A federal MP campaigns for a state colleague.

Get over it, Bob. Labor played hardball in its inner city marginals in Melbourne for the state campaign – as did the Greens, with their cutesy split ticket preferencing. And Labor won.

Rather than going Garrett for doing his job as a politician, why doesn’t Bob Brown admit that he’s a politician too – not the saviour – and look at how well he performs.

The Greens didn’t live up to expectations in the Victorian election. A pollster has suggested to Crikey that polls overstate their support, as “don’t knows”, undecideds and supporters of minor parties flag support for the Greens rather than giving an unpopular answer – or no answer.

But there may also be policy issues involved here. The Greens result gives them a good run for the Senate – but it also implies that some voters also know that they need to support major parties to do something practical about environmental issues.

It is one thing to cherry pick industries like the Greens have done with their criticism of Hunter coal. It’s another to come up with a solution on emissions trading that internalises costs for all industries and users at once so there is a reasonably level field. Even a national scheme is a tough ask – doing that and trying to get a global emissions scheme in place while not screwing your own industries will require real persistence and effort.

It takes a major party to do that – and voters know it.

And if things are hard for the Greens already, they’re going to get tougher. The Greens are going to find it much harder if they ever get the balance of power in the Senate and actually be accountable and sign up to support the policy of one or the other.

Perhaps Bob Brown doesn’t like admitting that he’s a politician because he doesn’t have the skills to deal with that – while holding his protest party together.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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