Mar 19, 2018

Greens lose byelection and policy credibility

The Greens lost more than their chance at a second lower house seat on Saturday.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Has Labor found a way to fend off the threat of the Greens to their inner-city seats? Probably not, but it appears having a high-profile candidate, and relying on the Greens' divisions, is working a treat so far.

In 2016, the Greens went all-in on Grayndler in Sydney, thinking they could knock off Anthony Albanese. In some quarters he was written off; some suggested he move seats, but Albo was having none of it. The Greens deployed huge resources into the seat, but in the end Albanese won easily. The Greens, in part, were cruelled by the disastrous candidate selection of an out-and-out Trotskyite from the NSW party's far-left faction, which has been at war with more moderate forces for years.

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21 thoughts on “Greens lose byelection and policy credibility

  1. klewso

    Holy crap Batman – you mean the Greens only need Labor to drop a Penguin Feeney in a seat to boost their numbers….?
    ….. And what’s going to happen to these media Joker “experts” that couldn’t tell the difference between The Penguin and a real member – that were telling us how close Batman was, to falling the wrong way? Again.

  2. Teddy

    I live in Grayndler – the seat that the Greens have long regarded as rightfully theirs – as soon as Albo retires anyway. “The most progressive electorate in Sydney” we are constantly told…. It’s one of the country’s wealthiest electorates and not unlike North Melbourne, though its gentrifiers are more established – at least I the northern part. In the time I’ve lived here (since the 80s) its changed from a multi-ethnic, part industrial mixed income neighbourhood to a wealthy, white monoculture completely dominated by well-off boomers. We have already elected two Greens state MPs. Most my neighbours vote Green, at least as far as I can tell with their “Stop Adani” and “Refugees welcome here” car and letterbox stickers. However, their own children can no longer afford property here – unless they themselves are doctors, stockbrokers or property developers themselves (and quite a few are).

    This is heartland Greens territory. Anywhere they have any electoral success at all will be like this (Byron Bay the slight exception in that its not inner city – that’s where they holiday or have investment properties)

    So I’m not so sure that the Greens pitch in Batman to the already wealthy (and boy are they determined to stay that way!) was “pandering” or a “mistake” at all. Surely the Greens are only talking to their natural constituency.

    1. Stephen Doolan

      Wealthy shareholders don’t get franking credit refunds. It only applies to relatively low-income shareholders, and the refund reduces the more you earn

    2. Charlie Chaplin

      “So I’m not so sure that the Greens pitch in Batman to the already wealthy (and boy are they determined to stay that way!) was “pandering” or a “mistake” at all. Surely the Greens are only talking to their natural constituency.” That’s my take on the Greens, too, Teddy, has been ever since they proclaimed themselves pro-capitalist centrists and attacked the left of their own party. Their policies are still leftist, but their public political face – their rhetoric- is aimed fairly and squarely at well heeled liberals.

  3. EG

    Sarah Hanson-Young being fair dinkum about a tax policy rather than pollie wants a cracker gaming like Di Natale et al shows how stuffed the Greens are.
    They already socked it to people whose sole income is the aged pension a few years ago supporting the Libs.
    What’s a vote for the Greens worth?

    1. Arky

      Yes, it’s why I have time for SH-Y and had time for Ludlum and Waters, and for Whish-Wilson, but not for Di Natale and Bandt. Some of the Greens are there first and foremost to stand up for progressive principles and win hearts and minds nationally and improve the country, and some are there to play dinky little local political games and try and erode the ALP from the left with nary a thought for actually achieving any policy.

      Di Natale leaping on the Liberal lying scare campaign on a pro-equality tax policy in the name of trying to scare voters in Batman into putting the Greens ahead of the ALP is a sackable offence for a Greens leader in my eyes. Sold the Greens’ principles down the river for votes in a byelection that wasn’t even that close in the end.

      1. EG

        Agree Arky, Di Natale is going the way of GST Meg and we all know what that did for the Aus Dems.

      2. Stephen Doolan

        A tax policy that disproportionately affects low-income shareholders, and doesn’t affect high-income earners, is not ‘pro-equality’

  4. jmendelssohn

    I would have thought the lesson from Batman to all political parties is to choose your candidates to suit the electorate and stop the practice of parachuting factional hacks into safe seats.
    The reason Anthony Albanese keeps winning in Grayndler is that he has lived in the inner west his entire life – and after an earlier scare from the Greens has spent some years working on reminding the changing demographic that he is embedded with both the changing demographic and the working class origins. That’s a tightrope act that is fascinating to watch.
    Totally agree on the stupidity of Di Natale’s backflip on franked dividends. He needs to reverse it if he wants to retain any credibility. It’s also irrelevant to most inner city retirees, many of whom are former teachers/academics on defined benefit pensions.

  5. zut alors

    And what of the rumour that older voters received telephone calls dissuading them to bother voting, has this been traced to a source?

  6. John of Alphington

    The Greens inexplicably failed to campaign on all the of issues (housing, wages, workplace etc). They doubled down and then tripled down on Adani and Manus.

    Appealing strictly to the base (even if it is quite large in Batamn) was not smart politics when the ALP had put up such a strong candidate.

  7. Paddlefoot

    The simple ‘no hacks’ policy should now become standard Labor policy. Feenian has now entered the political lexicon. Great legacy that.

    Meanwhile our new river bridge / railway tunnel is coming on nicely.

  8. AR

    Watching & hearing the Black W(r)iggler flailing about demanding purges expulsions is pretty scary.
    If the Stanford Experiment demonstrates anything it is how short a step it is to execution of unbelievers, backsliders & revisionistas…

    1. Stuart Johnson

      Oh come on, if you have people leaking to the press with the intention of damaging your party’s election campaign then at what point do you stop and question whether these people belong in the party? Yes a political party should allow for a range of views, but it is also about working together. The Greens have democratic preselection procedure with candidates elected by party members, this is when differences within the party are sorted out. Deliberately undermining an election campaign by leaking confidential information is very bad behaviour which completely undermines the ability to contest elections (which I’m pretty sure no party would tolerate) and it is hard to see any justification for it here except that somebody didn’t like the way the members voted. Are you saying there’s no reason for anyone to ever be expelled from a party?

      1. AR

        There is a good case for expelling the W(r)iggler for the destruction he has wrought on Green principles with his grovelling to be allowed to play with the big boyz.
        His ludicrous eagerness to support Talcum, overturning of 20yrs of Green opposition to the
        iniquitous Line in the Senate, by initially agreeing to allow OPV above and retaining compulsory full numbering below was a perfect example.

        1. Stuart Johnson

          This is ridiculous. And not just the childish name you insist on using for Di Natale.
          Di Natale (with the support of the rest of the party) voted to get rid of group voting tickets as had been the Greens party policy for a very long time (e.g a speech about it by Lee Rhiannon can be found in the hansard of NSW parliament from the 90’s). It was nothing to do with support for Malcolm Turnbull. Bob Brown tried to get rid of GVTs a number of times including getting a promise for it out of Labor which they failed to honour. The Greens voted with the Liberals because they were the ones who brought in the legislation which agreed with Greens policy. They also supported Labor in similar legislation in the NSW and SA parliaments (which it is also worth noting Labor brought in quietly after strongly arguing against the same changes at the federal level). Just about anyone with a clue of how voting works (except for the preference whisperers who were profiting nicely from GVTs) supported it – see particularly numerous posts from Antony Green and Kevin Bonham after the 2013 election. Even Labor supported it (e.g. when it was before the JSCEM) until a last minute turnaround to try and get some political gain.

          1. AR

            You are deliberately lying and trying to obfuscate history.
            Wriggles, in the first instance wet himself in eagerness to agree to only making Above the Line OPV.
            It was only the howls of outrage from the public and Xenophon, especially Antony Green at the famous, 40 minute Estimates Committee which forced the government (with Blacky bouncing along behind like dried dags) to extend OPV below the Line.

  9. Steve H

    I laughed when I read that the statement:
    “the most important difference between major parties and minor parties is that the big ones normally have the institutional resources and structures to cope with the factionalism and division ”

    Hmmm, what about Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott?

    1. Evil Garry

      Well BK did say ‘normally’ Steve, and I’m sure you agree there was nothing normal about politics between 2010 and 2015.

  10. Heresathought

    “ordinary voters are unlikely even to have been aware that (Bhathal) was the target of an internal destabilisation campaign.”
    Speaking from inside Batman, this doesn’t seem true at all. It was all over the news and all over local social media. I heard a number of Greens voters express doubts because of it. No doubt some people were oblivious, but I’d say a lot more people could tell you about the Greens infighting than could tell you much about Ged Kearney. Which is the juicier gossip, after all: “sabotage and bullying allegations in insurgent party” or “old party fields uncontroversial candidate who seems pretty good”?

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