Jun 23, 2016

Care about asylum seekers or climate change? Don’t vote Greens

Razer responds to her critics.

Helen Razer — Writer and Broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and Broadcaster

When this election was called back in what now feels like 1986, I wrote a short piece for Crikey detailing some reservations I had about the political usefulness of the Greens. In the decades that followed, many persons contacted me both privately and publicly to call me, inter alia, an idiot.


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48 thoughts on “Care about asylum seekers or climate change? Don’t vote Greens

  1. Philip Cocker

    This article reads to me like an attitude looking for a justification or trying to be a bit out there by seeming unexpected. The arguments are so thin and false in my extensive experience and knowledge of the Greens that another motive seems the only conclusion. At a time of election flimsy criticisms without proper comparative is poor at best. The ALP sell at the end suggests a dreamy nostalgia which sustains so many Labor rusted ons.

  2. Edwardbear

    What does the heading have to do with the article?

    1. Mark

      Ah, so there is nothing about climate change in the article? I suspected that this was so, but was not sure. Solar panels were mentioned, but I could not discern any argument for or against their use.

  3. MJM

    Thanks Helen. I loved the article, did not find it difficult to read and laughed out quite loud a couple of times (I am in a coffee shop in SE Asia) especially at “FFS, Helen. It’s just like Wayne Swan, but with more solar panels and colourful microloan children’s clothes.”.

    I have voted for the Greens once – in the Senate – in the vain hope that the Greens might gain the second ACT Senate over the Libs. And I will continue to put them in front of the Libs and the Fred Nile mob.

  4. Mike Smith

    Helen, I don’t even *like* Chardonnay.

  5. Hugh Harris


    It’s a non sequitur to argue that just because someone does not belong to a particular group or class, they cannot represent or advocate for them. One would have thought this might have occurred to you since your article mentions asylum seekers: which party do I vote for to achieve a more human consideration of asylum seekers? Someone overseas perhaps?

    I find your arguments transparent attempts to rationalise voting ALP even though admittedly you more closely align with Greens policies.

    No idea what your final paragraph means :-
    “Ideas may not form power all the way down. But this idea that it is the moral goodness of individuals that will lead to the material comfort of all has a great power over Greens voters. It’s the other way round.”

    What: that the material comfort of individuals leads to moral goodness? Someone slap me if that’s what you mean.

    If you object to ideas, please identify what else there is? You are being contrarian for the sake of it.

    1. phonakins

      “If you object to ideas, please identify what else there is? You are being contrarian for the sake of it.”

      Or in Internets, “Ur Trollin us Raz”

  6. Tom F

    This is a terribly Melbourne-centric view of the Greens, isn’t it? I realise they’re the current centre of gravity for the party, but it really doesn’t cover the primarily conservationist parties in WA or Tas; let alone the tankies and trots of the NSW branch…

  7. Tim Read

    Care about asylum seekers or climate change? You won’t find anything about that in this article. It says a lot about Greens voters and some of it may even be true. It doesn’t say a word about climate, coal mining, CSG, Nauru, Manus etc. For that you can go to greens.org.au

  8. Jane Munro

    Absolutely brilliant article!!!!

  9. Barnino

    Helen, I’m a Greens member, and of course there is an element of truth in your Greens caricature. I am also an unrepentant socialist. My first political heartbreak was in 1975, owing to forces outside the ALP; but since 1983, forces within the ALP having been breaking my heart continually and now irreparably. The ALP is now irredeemably ‘neoliberal-lite’; they are simply not going to radically re-calibrate the material conditions of the haves and have-nots; it is as much under their watch as under the other lot that the income share of the top 1% has headed back up towards 10%, from a Keynesian-inspired low of 4.8% (as shown by the painstaking research of Piketty; useful data I would have thought).
    So, in the absence of a socialist revolution, which team has economic policies which include a fairer progressive tax system, a much fairer super tax system, and use of the proceeds to do the health, education and welfare stuff which we believe is best done publicly? With the added benefit of recognising what even the great Keynes did not: that our planet is collapsing and growth can no longer be part of any rational economic paradigm.

    1. Suzanne Blake

      Socialism and Communism has failed everywhere and everytime? Why not go back to swinging from tree to tree, subsistence living or pre Middle Ages? The Greens bank on the young and dumb, but when they grow up, they drift away. The Green supporters above 30 are far and few

      1. Elbow Patches

        I’m middle aged, keen on the Greens but still fond of the ALP folk that are ‘true believers’, just not so much the David Feeney types. I also like the sane independents, such as Tony Windsor. I have a number of friends, also middle aged, who are active Greens supporters, and one who is active ALP. If you don’t want to join a party you can still volunteer for issues based groups, keep talking and listening to other progressive groups, you DONT have to engage in slagging people off gratuitously, but you can hope for a better future where people who do care put their shoulders to the wheel and work together for common goals. On the ‘class’ identity thing, that may because some people were the first in their family to go to uni but they still have family memory of what it’s like to be less well off. Nothing wrong with that.

  10. Marcus Ogden

    “If you care about asylum seekers, don’t vote Greens because… although they (like I) want the “closure of offshore privatised detention centres”, they “don’t meaningfully combat racism”. Instead, vote for a party that wants to continue torturing refugees indefinitely in tropical gulags, because Chris Bowen.”
    There’s a lucid argument that could be made about the relative merits of cultural left-liberalism vs. socialist left-materialism, but this ain’t it (and it doesn’t end with “vote ALP”).

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