Only The Sangfroid

Mark is of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. He does live in an ivory tower.

These are his draft thoughts…

So this is it then? You’re here to win friend… Election time: the Greens

It shouldn’t be a huge shock that I’m disillusioned by politics at the moment.  Personally, I look to political leaders to be the locus of our cultural expression.  I feel enormously betrayed by our current political landscape.  At this current election, I cannot spot the difference between the two parties.  Apparently, the way to deal with this sense of betrayal is to look for ‘third party options’.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do the responsible voter thing and check out the policies of all the registered parties.  Of course, this is completely fruitless because my vote is statistically insignificant…  Anyway.

The Australian Greens provide their policies in one big pdf file.  You can find it here.  At the outset, I thought I’d declare that I’m particularly wary of the Greens Party.  They remind me a lot of the Democrats — happy to make all kinds of outlandish claims while they don’t have any power whatsoever and then stab everybody in the back when they do.  Bob Brown frequently sounds sinophobic and Sarah Hanson-Young screams privilege (watching her implode on Q&A is a joy).

The supporters are more dogmatically rabid than even the most red neck Nationals voter.  A few months ago, I pointed out some of the weird maths of democratic elections (it’s possible, for example, for a party to be elected with a slight majority of seats but with a drastic minority of the total vote).  Another weird aspect is the effect of a ‘split vote’ in preferential systems.  The quirk is well known and why so many commentators try to analyse the likely impact on outcomes.  Thus, it’s legitimate to say that voting for the Greens is beneficial to the Coalition as it splits the ‘left’ vote.

If you mention this to a Greens supporter, well…

So I’m not exactly kindly disposed towards the Greens Party.  Still, I hope to give their policies a fair read.

Policy Category A: Environment

In a cultural climate where Australians are struggling to understand racism and the ways in which people with power dispossess those without power, I can’t say I’m entirely shocked to find the following under their ‘Environmental Principles’:

The Australian Greens believe that […]

5. the cultural knowledge of the indigenous peoples of the world as the original custodians of land and sea must be recognised.
6. land and sea country rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be supported.  — p 3.

Somebody should probably let the Greens Policy peep gang know that the NSW Flora and Fauna Act — which listed indigenous Australians as fauna — isn’t current.  Just a thought.

I was stunned when I read that.  I honestly thought I’d misread something.  Who lists indigenous issues under environment?  Even the Liberals separate their — admittedly backward — indigenous policies from their environmental policies.

The Australian Greens will […]

25. require Australian companies operating overseas to comply with Australian environmental standards.  — p4.

I’m split on this one.  I can understand why this would be a good idea: if you put penalties on companies who pollute, the option is available for them to go offshore in order to pollute.  At the same time, this is unenforceable.  Imagine that we lived in a country which thought alcoholism was the greatest moral challenge of our generation and we banned alcohol consumption.  Would we consider it justifiable for a government to say: ‘Any Australian who goes overseas is forbidden to consume alcohol?’  In corporate terms, that’s what the Greens are advocating: they want to monitor Australians abroad to make sure they comply with domestic rules.  There’s something a little bit creepy about this.

The Australian Greens will […]

29. develop and adequately fund fuel reduction burning strategies based on the latest research on scientific fire ecology, fire behavior information and indigenous fire management practices, in consultation with experts, custodians and land managers.

30. increase funding for bushfire research to include the effective use of fire, strategies for controlling arsonists, and best environmental and fire risk minimization in building practices.  — ibid.

I had no idea they advocated anything like this.  When the Victorian bushfires ripped through, my grandmother was adamant that it was the fault of ‘greenies’ for not allowing people to protect their homes from the horrors of the natural world.  While I dismissed it as her just generally hating on greens, it’s a shame that the Greens’ communication strategy around this point is MIA.

The Australian Greens believe that […]

5. habitat loss and fragmentation, together with the spread of alien invasive species exacerbated by climate change, are the greatest threats to the biodiversity of the planet.  — p5.

This is a minor irritation but an irritation none the less.  Humans are an alien invasive species exacerbated by climate change.  Every single species is an alien invasive species.  The only people who agree with this vision of the Greens — OMG, stop the alien invasions! — are Creationists who think God set it all up as it is six thousand years ago.

The Australian Greens believe that […]

4. the native title claims to sea country by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be acknowledged, including their right to sustainably access customary fishing grounds. — p7.

The Greens frequently appeal to the noble savage version of our indigenous history.  The key word there is ‘sustainably’ access.  ‘No hunting creatures into extinction like you did with that Australian megafauna, indigenous Australians!  We enlightened white folk will keep an eye on you!’  The same ‘rights’ don’t extend, of course, to other countries with traditional tastes for whale meat.  Perish the thought.

There is a troubling deadlock here between the need to appear engaged with indigenous issues while, at the same time, remaining authentic to the environmental cause.  The two are incompatible — traditional hunting isn’t any more sustainable than modern methods.  It’s just less efficient.  Engaging with modern farming technology is more likely to result in sustainable agriculture (more on this later).  Asserting a right to access customary fishing grounds is not environmentally sound.

The Australian Greens will […]

17. as part of the Oceans Act, legally define Australia‟s exclusive economic zone as extending only to the internationally recognised 200 mile limit from the coastline, not the undersea continental shelf.

…  Holy crap …

This is an utterly insane policy.  Australia’s territorial claim to the continental shelf is internationally recognised.

It is the culmination of 15 years of cutting edge work, carried out under Geoscience Australia’s Law of the Sea and Maritime Boundaries Advice project.

To support Australia’s case Geoscience Australia analysed an enormous amount of new data gathered on 17 marine surveys conducted over eight years in some of the most remote and inhospitable parts of the world’s oceans.

Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the continental shelf extends at least 200 nautical miles from Australia’s coastline. Australia is also entitled to the submerged prolongation of its landmass extending beyond 200 nautical miles (the so-called extended continental shelf), to limits defined in the 1982 Convention.  —  Geoscience Australia.

For some reason, the Greens think that Australia should have a smaller territory and a smaller population (more on that later).  Who would have guessed?

This is emotionally exhausting.  You know when people say things that are so silly that you flinch with pain?  That’s what I’m experiencing while reading this policy document.  I might have to break this up into different posts.  This is getting long…  Okay, I’ll finish up part A then move on to part B later.

The Australian Greens will […]

14. ban genetic engineering involving animals, including reproductive cloning.  — p11.

Who knew that Steve Fielding wrote policies for the Australian Greens?  Why do politicians feel the need to hate on science?  I believe we need ethical practices in science, but banning reproductive cloning stinks of anti-science sentiment.

The Australian Greens believe that […]

6. population policy should not be driven by economic goals or to counter the effects of an ageing population. — p15.

It seems weird to cut out economic considerations and demographic changes from the question of population policy.  Sort of like cutting property size considerations from the question of how large your house should be…

The Australian Greens believe that […]

8. Australia has an obligation to accept humanitarian migration including that resulting from climate change.

Dear Political Parties,

Please delink your conversations about population growth from your conversations about humanitarian migration.  It is ugly and misleading.  More details here.


Only the Sangfroid.

Sweet love of Awesome, that’s the first section done.  I’d like to thank Emilie Simon’s l’Olympia album for getting me through this.  More later.

5 responses to “So this is it then? You’re here to win friend… Election time: the Greens”

  1. There are plenty of minor little policies in the Greens’ policy document I don’t agree with, and which I doubt very much have been seriously reviewed by even a majority of candidates. They simply would never be enacted, or even pushed for. The Greens have their work cut out for them pulling the big parties back from the right on serious issues like public services, civil liberties and climate change – these positions that nobody’s ever heard of are hardly going to become law, even when they do win a few seats.

    The point of voting Greens is to nudge Australia back from the far-right.

    Voting for the big old parties just encourages the slide.

    PS There is no way that voting 1 Greens 2 ALP could conceivably help Tony Abbott. None.

    • You don’t find it worrying that the policies haven’t been seriously reviewed by a majority of candidates?

      Similar problems happened with the Democrats. People voted for them when they couldn’t stomach voting for the major parties, only to discover that the Democrats’ policies were odious.

      Consider four parties at a seat. ALP gets 25% of the primary vote. Greens gets 24%. Liberals get 31%. Nationals get 20% of the vote. Effectively, the Greens has split the left vote. The Nationals votes go to the Libs, giving Libs 51% of the vote. Greens cost ALP the seat. This isn’t even controversial, so I’m shocked that you’re objecting to it.

  2. “Consider four parties at a seat. ALP gets 25% of the primary vote. Greens gets 24%. Liberals get 31%. Nationals get 20% of the vote. Effectively, the Greens has split the left vote. The Nationals votes go to the Libs, giving Libs 51% of the vote. Greens cost ALP the seat. This isn’t even controversial, so I’m shocked that you’re objecting to it.’

    It’s not only controversial, it’s stupid. In your scenario, if the Greens didn’t exist, ALP would have only got 49% of the vote, the Nationals would have been eliminated with their votes going to Libs, and the Libs would still have won on 51% of the vote.

    Try again. I don’t think you understand our electoral system.

    As for the Democrats – they died because they were trying to cover two sets of voters simultaneously: the lefties who’ve now gone to the Greens, and LNP/ALP swinging voters. It came to a head over the GST, and they collapsed.

    In contrast, the Greens are very clear about where they stand on the political spectrum. There is no way the policies to which you allude would ever be seriously advocated, let alone implemented. The Greens’ focus is on environmental protection, civil liberties and public services. They’ve got enough to do on those things.

    I suspect the other issues will be resolved as they grow and more members review the finer details of some legacy parts of the policy document.

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