Dec 6, 2017

Lee Rhiannon’s overthrow and the future of the Greens’ hard-left quasi-faction

Crikey speaks exclusively to outgoing Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon about her legacy, and where she's heading next.

Max Chalmers

Freelance journalist

In the meeting room of Senator Lee Rhiannon’s office, a few minutes walk from Sydney’s Central Station, a second hand inches its way around a clock face with an insistent tick, tick, tick.

The room is adorned with prints of national parks and past rallies, while a flow-chart decorates another of the walls; boxes and arrows snake upwards to a final rectangle with green text heralding a doomed outcome: “winning a senate seat”.

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23 thoughts on “Lee Rhiannon’s overthrow and the future of the Greens’ hard-left quasi-faction

  1. brian crooks

    finally the greens are moving into the real political world, the days of bright eyed one vision politicians is dead, now the greens can become a real force in australia`s middle ground, a future coalition with labor in government is now not a dream but a distinct probability, there`s no room for extreme rights or lefts in politics and the demand for a fair distribution of the nations wealth and prosperity will not be ignored, the incessant demand that workers work harder and longer for less so that the wealthy can steal more and more of the nations wealth are coming to an end, the fracturing of the liberal and national parties are coming sooner than expected but the voters are more educated to the trickery, lies and corruption now.

    1. CML

      Essential poll from yesterday…Labor 55%, Coalition 45% 2PP…DREAM ON about your ‘coalition with Labor’. We don’t need your 9-10% vote, thank you!
      Added to that…in the aforementioned poll…the majority want a STABLE one party government. NOT a bunch of minor parties jointly forming government…that just leads to instability and nothing being done. So…good luck with that!!

      1. Teddy

        Err, that 45/55 split is 2PP, right. That means the “9-10%” you don’t want has been allocated to one of the parties. Now which one, CML?

        I don’t think a coalition will ever be possible, the distrust and bad feeling between the Greens and Labor is to strong. In the inner west of Sydney where I live, the two parties despise one another, with a level of anger and hatred which I find quite strange. I mix with both groups (and Liberals too), so I do know this…

        Funnily enough though, on the streets of Balmain (we have a Greens MP) Liberal voters and Greens voters have more in common with each other than Labor voters. There aren’t many of the latter left in Balmain, or in any of the rich inner city electorates the Greens are in contention to win. Maybe that coalition will be something you least expect, Brian!

        1. CML

          The 9%-10% Greens vote has NOT been ‘allocated’ to the Labor Party…let’s just get that straight. The VOTERS have decided who they prefer if the Greens don’t make it…its called preference voting, and long may it exist so long as we have troublesome minor twits who will NEVER form government, and just like to hear their own voice and cause upset.
          However, you make a good point…the Greens voters live in the more affluent inner city areas and tend to co-habit with Liberal voters, rather than Labor. It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that the Greens will inevitably agree more with the Libs, as time goes by…and hopefully, they will disappear like the Democrats who have already tried this trick!!

      2. Susan Anderson

        I think you’ll find that 2PP figure includes over 80% Green preferences to Labor, its not if there will be a Labor/Green coalition but when
        And multi party coalitions are commonplace across the developed world including the very stable and wealthy countries of northern Europe, its only the English speaking democracies that cling to the perverse 2 party system that delivers such mediocre outcomes

        1. CML

          Bullsh+t!! ALL of the countries of northern Europe who have gone down this route end up with NO government for months on end…the latest being Germany.
          If you think that is a good way to run a country…go for it. Absolute chaos and NOTHING gets done, because no one can agree about anything.
          The USA is also in chaos at the moment, but that is because of an individual…normally their two party system works well, and they seem to have managed to stop this stupid vote splitting nonsense. All power to them…after they get rid of the troublesome ‘individual’!!

          1. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

            Hang on CML, the ALP/Greens Gillard Labor government was an excellent and productive ‘coalition’ government – regardless of your perverted views. How much legislation was passed? How well did the PM put down the running dog Abbott? The carbon tax (or whatever you want to call it) was the best thing that ever happened in the assault on climate change but apparently you don’t want to own it. Shame on you and get used to multi-party government.

          2. AR

            Down with diverse views, look how well we did when the Rodent controlled both Chambers.
            None so blind as them wot will not CML.

      3. brian crooks

        CML as long as labor tries to stand alone facing a growing coalition of extreme right wing ideologues the harder it will be to hold power, in a 2pp political system the vested interest groups know standing as many so called independent candidates as possible controls the result, e.g barnaby joyce in new england, the centre left must combine or disappear under the weight of power and money used to manipulate the system, it should be one vote on value and publicly funded elections to get a truly democratic result but it inn`t and wont be so commonsense should prevail for the common good.

  2. John Versteeg

    Sad to see Lee go. We needed a true socialist , not afraid to stick up for her principles and her Israeli stand admirable

  3. AR

    The deracination of the Greens, with principles hammered out over a couple of decades will continue so long as the Black W(r)iggler remains the leader.
    He so wet himself with glee on the occasions when duchessed by Talcum (Senate voting reform, Gonski) that he would have sold his first born to be allowed to play.
    It is ever thus – all movements are taken over by the trimmers & tackers & toadies, those who turn up and stay and stay at every boring committee until everyone with a life and sense has gone.

  4. CML

    @ Hugh McColl…so I have ‘peverted’ views just because I don’t agree with you?
    Very democratic of you.
    Perhaps you could enlighten us all on what happened to the Greens -led over the top carbon tax? Gone the moment rAbbott arrived…so no one benefitted for long.
    Now…if the bloody Greens had been less pure and allowed Rudd’s. ETS to pass way back when, it would have been so entrenched that no one could have removed it.
    But…you just keep on keeping on…and NOTHING will change.

    1. MAC TEZ

      Oh you’ve got to be kidding CML,it seems your hypocrisy knows no bounds. You of all people complaining about a lack of democracy from someone because they say your views are perverted ?
      You who constantly rants in a cap-locked tirade of abuse and insults if anyone dares to offer the slightest criticism of your beloved ALP ,let alone if they have anything to say in support of any other party for any reason at all. “Stupid,moronic,idiotic, bullshitting, brain dead “ and so on and on and on you go. The blind faith of your one-eyed,rusted-on, evangelistic and wildly aggressive support for the ALP would make a monk jealous and would probably scare off more potential ALP voters than it would ever win over.
      You’re not even interested in democracy or two party politics, you crave a one house – one party system and probably with parliament based in S.A. and every one else and every where else be damned.

  5. Hamis Hill

    Considering all the new votes that are guaranteed, according to the interfering interstate connivers, by putting Lee second on the Senate ticket, what’s the possibility that two Greens NSW senators get up at the next election?
    The new voters for The Greens plus all those who voted for Lee the last couple of times, just the thing to put the nose of that Terra Nullius Society founder’s nose right out of joint.
    (Terra Nullius =Wilderness, get it? Whoosh?)
    Oh and let’s not forget that those original founders of “conservation parks” were the Norman conquerors of England.
    Here’s hoping that this ascendant new church of the environment remains broad enough to “conserve” grass roots democracy and economic as well as social justice; as principles not fucking “pillars” please, you pathetic Tree Tory pillocks.

  6. Bob the builder

    Very strange that no-one thinks voters might make their own choice about which party candidate to vote for. Surely if Rhiannon believes so much in her own popularity she would think she’d have a chance of being preferenced before the other candidates?

    1. AR

      I shall certainly do that, giving Faruqi my 2nd but, alas, Preferential Voting still seems to be some arcane mystery to most of the electorate.
      Banning How to Vote cards would be favourite.

  7. brian crooks

    its the time for the greens to move to the left of centre, as the liberal hard right destroys their party and the nationals become ever more beholden to their mining benefactors and lose relevance more and more in the rural areas, a resurgence of centre left policies will drive the political agenda as voters seek a fairer and more equitable share of the national wealth and will demand the wealthy and big business pay their fair share of tax, the hard right elements of the conservative movements will cluster around hanson and bernadi while becoming just a rump of a political hard core movement with diminishing power and influence.

  8. [email protected]

    The Greens are not all urban types. Teddy it is interesting to note a beginning convergence between right and left in some areas: on banks, on political donations, on fracking , on fair prices for farmers, this being perhaps more noticeable in non metro areas. And the Coalition is even more fractured than the Greens are. Labor is split too if one notes the QLD Lab stance till recently on Adani. Hamis’s incoherent piece : the rising seas, floods and fires etc are not left or right concerns but are evidence based. The Greens have differing concerns as all groups do, but above all they see the greed and corruption among some in both major parties. And don’t call the Greens far left, as pollution due to belching factory stacks etc was even worse in the communist bloc. Stereotypes are not analysis.

  9. Murray Scott

    In personal conversation and at NSW Greens State Delegate Council meetings, Lee Rhiannon speaks in courteous, measured and rational terms on all sorts of issues. I feel she has been hoisted, perhaps involuntarily, as figurehead for the Left Renewal push, who seem less observant of such considerations.

    I will miss Lee but nevertheless voted largely to reset public perceptions of NSW Greens, confident that Mehreen is well up to the task of engagingly combining social and environmental principles. The danger comes from those (eg in comments above) for whom those principles are antagonistic, making silly comments about Greens co-habiting with Liberals. Remember where The Greens came from and how strongly social justice principles were instilled at training camps for the Franklin Blockade. Greens, including Brown, are still Green.
    I wish Lee well and I bet she is not finished with politics.

    1. AR

      Murray – Brown may be green, a sea green incorruptible like Robespierre, but the Black W(r)iggler is not.
      I doubt that he is even grau-Grünen – more a chameleon without conviction who will go where he thinks the main chance (for gold plated pension & perks) is.

  10. Hamis Hill

    The crux of the “argument” seems to be that as as result of their adherence to the international Greens principle of economic and social justice, repeat economic and social justice, that The Greens in NSW have long been held in thrall to a “hard Left quasi faction”.
    Historically The Greens in NSW allowed local “Groups”, not branches of any head office, to contest elections as “The Greens”, as long as they held to the four international Greens principles, which incidentally did not at all emerge from the island of Tasmania.
    In Sydney, in particular, members of actual pre-existing socialist parties took advantage of the above situation to declare themselves as “Greens”.
    This situation did not survive the first Greens delegates council held in The Haymarket in Sydney in 1991 over three days.
    According to the principle of grassroots participatory democracy all of these delegates from Greens groups (who had long contested multiple elections, including at the federal level), had considered and voted on a motion that The Greens in NSW disallow members of other political parties to also be members of The Greens.
    Proscription as it was termed was passed at this council after those delegates who were existing members of other parties were denied a vote on the basis of conflicting interests.
    That is the documented history.
    Nevertheless, and certainly among environmentalists the rumour was promoted that the Greens in NSW had been taken over by Marxist communists, whatever, riding on the tailcoats of the environmental movement.
    Hence the tag “watermelon Greens’, ha ha, green on the outside red in the middle, enthusiastically promted by such people and their conservative allies in politics.
    This meme persists, assiduously cultivated by the likes of arch- environmentalist Bob Brown, whose Wilderness society, coming out of an island notorious globally for its genocide of the first peoples still rankles among those so continuously insulted by that name.
    Brown behaves as archetypal Simeon Sylites of the environment movement unable to remove himself from the pillar of “single issue environmental extremism” (the term was popularised by Democrat leader Stott-Despoja a a description of the “Browns”, to use the most apt descriptor of those deserving the name?).
    It is reasonable to argue that four greens principles are hierarchal, one rising from the other, the environment and its people, represented by the principle of ecological sustainability (See Gro Harlem Bruntland, not a Tasmanian) requiring peace or disarmament and non violence ( From The Society of Friends, again nothing to do with
    any Tasmanian, post-genocidal wilderness), such peace arguably being dependent upon economic and social justice, surely.
    And finally the foundation principle of grass-roots participatory democracy , castigated in his writings by Bob Brown, being necessary for justice.
    How does this working of The Greens Principles in any way justify the metaphor of these codependent principles as separate standing “pillars”?
    This the drivel, emanating from that genocide Isle, which infects those State organisations who have taken their direction the likes of Brown.
    It is not the principle of economic and social justice which is holding back The Greens in Australia, but the persistent vision of the Simeon Sylites style “single issue conservationist extremists” perched on their “Pillar”, erecting, in the public view, the environment above people and jobs.
    Those who worked consistently over the years in elections for The Greens had to carry this stinking “shit-can” of single issue extremism labelled “green”, and hold their noses while trying to gain votes for the Greens principles.
    If one wishes to attempt some philosophy beyond the gut-reaction politics typically promoted by environmentalists, Aristotle promoted the written constitution, represented in The Greens, internationally, by their four principles against Plato’s Philosopher-King, perhaps represented by Bob Brown, and Di-Natale, and certainly embodied in a certain totalitarian, anti-democratic dictator’s “fuhrerprinzip”.
    Adding to the offence is the argument that only marxism encompasses the principle of economic and social justice.
    What about that famous moral philosopher, who wished to explain the truth about “commercial society”, and informed his readers about the “idle rich” and business people conspiring to fix prices while agitating for labourers attempting to equally so “unite” themselves being hung or transported to the colonies, (some resonance there in the Apple Isle?).
    Or describing those who lived from the interest to be gained on their investments having “an interest to deceive and oppress the public: and having done so successfully through the legislation of parliament in the past were likely to continue to do so in the future.
    Economic and social justice anyone? from that well known “red “Adam Smith.
    No, no, no it is time for Brown, like Howard to retire from public comment, and get out of the way of The Greens.
    Enough is enough.
    Hard left quasi faction? Really?

    1. HoverBoy

      Hamis, I agree. You clearly have thought deeply about these matters. Are you available to speak to a local group?

      1. Hamis Hill

        Thanks for your agreement, HoverBoy, but unfortunately not available.
        Perhaps the easiest way to resolve the difficulties existing between elected greens representatives and The actual “Greens” themselves is for members, or indeed anyone holding to the four Green principles, to argue for them, whenever and wherever, hopefully for them to be understood and to be adopted by everyone else.
        Policies, the business given to Greens representatives to have enacted into legislation, are a different matter, any such representative being bound not to promote policies which go against the principles, of which there are only four, and they reinforce each other, so not so hard to manage.
        And at any rate in The Greens such policies are determined by the groups not any head office apparatchiks.
        Grass-roots democracy chosen purposefully to overcome that deficiency of “representative” democracy.
        “Activists”, (and former Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said that The Greens was a party for activists) when in “the field” have usually needed to accept some top down
        leadership, as in the Tasmanian campaigns and Bob Brown and co, but modern communications, as in the phenomenon of “swarming”, allow individuals to assert their authority at the grassroots level.
        The classic example being the response to the Border Force’s telegraphed intentions to persecute people in Melbourne streets , this then thwarted by the mobile phone generation peacefully taking to those streets to show who rules in a democracy.
        The principles in action?
        Politics in the other parties seems to entail the parliamentarians dictating to their members, this should not happen in The Greens, where the Greens principles “dictate” to the parliamentarians.
        Some “resistance” to be expected among those unfamiliar with, or not particularly committed to the principles?
        And whatever the complaints directed towards her other views, Ayn Rand, in her philosopher guise, had this description of political principles to offer: “A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long range action, WITH THE PRINCIPLES SERVING TO UNIFY AND INTEGRATE PARTICULAR STEPS INTO A CONSISTENT COURSE.
        It is only by means of principles that citizens can project the future and chose their actions accordingly.”
        Unable to address any groups, HoverBoy, but activists might chose their actions according to the Greens principles, especially grass-roots democracy, without representative “leadership” being affected to the extent of to which it seems to have generated the particular, ( and unjustified?), complaints of the likes of Bob Brown?
        These arguments are the best I can offer to your groups. They, at least, can generate productive discussion. All the Best.

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