Crikey intern Michael Carter writes:

Cardinal George Pell is worried about it, but almost everyone has accepted the inevitability of a Greens balance of power in the senate following the election. But what would this peculiar shade of green really look like post-election?

For an Abbott-led government it could be a disaster, a permanent millstone around the Coalition’s policy neck; on refugees, climate change and a large range of social issues. For Gillard, the effect would be two-fold: it would likely remove the more radical cross-bench in the form of Steve Fielding (it looks increasingly like the venerable senator won’t be back for another term) but could cause a major block in the legislative pipeline on some issues.

While the government and the Greens are more alike on social issues than a Coalition-Greens dalliance, it must be remembered that the Greens helped the Coalition block the government’s ETS bill several times. Let’s think about that: a party that desperately wants reduction in carbon pollution blocked one of the first reduction schemes of its kind in the world. This is the sort of unusual thing that could happen more often if (or when) the Greens hold the BOP.

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A precursor to this possibly uneasy relationship can be seen in the aftermath of the Tasmanian state election. Tasmanian Greens leader, Nick McKim, was dubbed ‘the king maker’ and duly played out his role. In the United Kingdom election, Nick Clegg too played the role for the Liberal Democrats. Yet Bob Brown will not tread quite the same boards as the two prince ‘Nicks’. Brown is banking too heavily on what could be termed the ‘Hulk effect’: the electorate being angry and turning inexplicably green.

Where the Greens’ power will lie is in making or breaking bills and, more than this, forcing the major parties’ hands on a range of issues close to Greens’ heart. The Greens will be policy king makers, masters of bills and Brown’s office will be busier than it has ever been. But they’re not there yet.

The most recent Newspoll has seen the Greens’ primary vote decline from the comparative stratosphere of 15% to 10% post Gillard. At the last election the share was 8%.

Andrew Bolt states that it’s “[m]arvellous to see the irrational vote so divided”.  Yet the poll perhaps shows that previous voter dissatisfaction with Rudd translated to the Greens, which is more worrying for the Coalition.

Perhaps the hulk effect isn’t happening as quickly or as widespread as first thought. The electorate has taken a collective breath and followed it with a valium or two.

I subscribe to Crikey because I believe in a free, open and independent media where news and opinions can be published that I can both agree with and be challenged by.

As a Crikey subscriber I always feel more informed and able to think more critically about issues and current affairs – even when they don’t always reflect my own political viewpoint or lived experience.

Jess
Singapore

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