Yesterday it looked as if drugs scaremongering was on the wane. The Daily Telegraph’s assault on the NSW Greens’ drug policy, which was front page stuff back in 2003, had been relegated to page eight. Today it’s back on the front page, but the real target is Labor, not the Greens.
When prompted by the Tele for the original story, premier Morris Iemma described the Greens’ policy on methamphetamine as “just an absurd, ridiculous and disgusting policy.” Today the Tele responds that he “is facing charges of hypocrisy after yesterday launching an all-out attack on the Greens’ drugs policy – but still clinging to their crucial preferences.”
On one level this is just absurd. You can’t refuse someone’s preferences – they come to you regardless. And apart from a small chance of some worthwhile surplus in the upper house, Labor preferences would hardly be of the slightest use to the Greens.
The Greens are anti-prohibitionist: always have been, probably always will be. What they’re saying about “ice” is, for most policy experts, no more than the most basic common sense.
It speaks volumes for the outlook of both the Liberals and the Tele that out of all the strange policies they could find coming from the Greens, this is the one they seize on.
But drugs are the excuse for the Liberals (again) to deny preferences to the Greens in the lower house seats they have hopes of winning from Labor: Balmain and (more remotely) Marrickville.
Liberal how-to-votes instruct people to “just vote one” for the Liberal or Nationals candidate, with the exception of a few seats (mostly in the Hunter) where independents are evidently thought to be a serious challenge to the ALP.
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It’s about time that the Liberals were called out on their preference strategy.
Sensible harm minimisation on drugs is held to disqualify the Greens from receiving preferences, but Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile can call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration with impunity.
Out of the weird and wonderful range of upper house candidates, Nile’s bigots are the only ones for whom the Liberals choose to recommend a preference.
There’s no front page headline for that, but there should be.