So today, the Greens took control of the Senate (well the balance of power part of it). I hope you all enjoyed the gay wedding you attended and stopped by the old folks’ home after the reception to administer some euthanasia on anyone looking a bit too inert for your liking.
So the day came and went and apparently nothing much has changed. This of course is just all part of The Greens’ evil plan. First they will lull us into a false sense of security and then just when we’re all comfortable they’ll… unleash their full arsenal and (wait for it, it’s pretty sinister…) vote in the Senate.
A party that at the last election got 13 per cent of the vote in Senate now holds 11 per cent of the seats in the Senate.
Or as The Herald Sun editorial on the weekend called it:
Greens leader Bob Brown, is no longer the warm and fuzzy figure once thought of as a harmless, tree-hugging Tasmanian environmentalist.
Senator Brown has revealed himself as a danger to democracy in challenging the potential mandate of a Coalition government to abolish a carbon tax imposed by the current minority government of Labor, Greens and independents.
Uhuh. “A danger to democracy”. I’m not sure “danger” or “democracy” mean what the author of that editorial thinks they mean.
I must first make an admission: I am not a Greens voter. Basically my local member is Andrew Leigh and I am a sucker for intelligent economists who also blog. I may one day vote for the Greens, but the cold-hearted, economic rationalist side of me, has thus far kept me from doing so.
But I like a lot of things about the Greens – especially that they don’t all talk in sound bites.
But the thing I like most about the Greens is that they have seriously screwed with the heads of the Press Gallery.
The Gallery demands “scrutiny” of the Greens, and hate it when Bob Brown plays all coy with them, or calls them the “hate media”.
The big problem with the Greens though is they don’t act like a proper political party. They don’t have public brawls, they don’t leak to the press, the don’t background the press, they don’t particularly feel much need to use the press the way the Libs and ALP do.
They may one day feel like they need to feed the media, but at the moment, not so much. (Also the other parties have safety in numbers, which makes leaks easier to get away with.)
The problem is the media are desperate to be able to get a hold on the Greens. Mostly they like to think of them as just the far-left of the Labor Party. And on some issue that may almost be true, but that doesn’t mean Greens Senators will act like left-wing ALP Senators (or MPs). One of the reasons I’ve noticed of why people join the Greens and not the ALP is not just the policy differences, but also the bullsh*t that can go along with joining the ALP – the factions, the in-fighting, the egos, the kowtowing to Party heavyweights.
And yes, when Bob Brown goes perhaps there will be some jostling to get his job. But for now, there is no evidence of the destruction of the Party that so many commentators see happening – ooh Lea Rhiannon is now here, feel the instability!!!
And so the press gallery seems to have some dopey need to dip into the hyperbole bowl when writing of the Greens.
Take today. As there was a new Senate, there was to be the usual vote for who would be President of the Senate (ie the Speaker of the Senate). Currently the role is held by ALP Senator John Hogg.
This morning when nominations for the position were opened, the Greens nominated Greens’ WA Senator Scott Ludlam. He lost the vote 62 votes to 9 (ie the ALP and LNP voted together for Hogg)
THE Greens have failed in an audacious bid to seize the coveted post of president of the Senate from Labor, as the party flexes its muscles as the chamber's new balance-of-power holder.
The Herald Sun (with subtle accompanying photo of Bob Brown, just in case you think the Greens are in any way serious):
THE Greens have formally taken the balance of power in the Senate today and shifted their seats to the government side of the chamber.
They have also made an audacious bid for the prestigious post of Senate president, which is normally held by the Government.
GREENS Leader Bob Brown has failed in a bold bid to gain control of important roles of president and deputy president in the new Senate.
10.52am The Greens have started to flex their muscles.
For the first time in the Commonwealth's history, a Green senator today is representing every state of the nation.
The clean sweep was confirmed today when the half Senate elected last August was sworn in. They included four new Green senators joining five others.
And the changed dynamics quickly became evident when the Greens used their extra muscle to challenged the Government's nomination for President of the Senate.
Yep, “audacious”, “bold”, “extra muscle”.
Except here’s the thing. Let’s go back three years to August 26 2008, the last time the Senate changed. Let’s see what happened when they called for nominations for the position of President of the Senate:
Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western Australia—Leader of the Government in the Senate) (12.18 pm)—Mr Clerk, I remind the Senate that the time has come when it is necessary for the Senate to choose one of its members to be President. I propose to the Senate for its President Senator Hogg, and I move:
That Senator Hogg take the chair of the Senate as President.
The Clerk—Are there any further nominations?
Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania— Leader of the Australian Greens) (12.18 pm)—Mr Clerk, I propose to the Senate as its President Senator Christine Milne, and I move:
That Senator Milne take the chair of the Senate as President.
The Clerk—Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, I invite the candidates to address the chair
Wow. So three years ago, when the Greens had 6 members out of 76, and didn’t hold the balance of power, I guess they were also “audacious”, “bold” and displaying “extra muscle” when they nominated Senator Milne to be the President. The difference? Back then they only got 6 votes.
But hey, how about we go back 6 years on August 9 2005, when the Senate numbers changed over – but when the Liberal Party held a majority in the Senate. What happened then?
Senator HILL (South Australia—Leader of the Government in the Senate) (12.47 pm)—Mr Clerk, I remind the Senate that the time has come when it is necessary for the Senate to choose one of its members to be President. I propose to the Senate for its President Senator Calvert, and I move:
That Senator Calvert take the chair of the Senate as President.
The Clerk—Are there any other nominations?
Senator BROWN (Tasmania) (12.47 pm)—Mr Clerk, I propose to the Senate for its President Senator Nettle, and I move:
That Senator Nettle take the chair of the Senate as President.
Wow. So six years ago, when they only had four Senators and had bugger all power, I guess they were also “audacious”, “bold” and displaying “extra muscle” when they nominated Senator Nettle to be the President. The difference? Back then they got seven voted (the Democrats chipped in for a few votes)
There were a couple pretty senior journalists writing those pieces, but today they were shown up by a more junior member of the Press Gallery, Macquarie radio’s, Sarah Wiley who tweeted:
Greens trying to get Scott Ludlum elected senate president. a stunt the greens often pull at the start of a new senate.
And then followed it up with:
Coalition expected to support Labor's John Hogg as Senate President. Usual practice.
Perspective. Good to see.
The Greens have some dopey policies (in my opinion), and Lea Rhiannon will surely say many dopey things. But journalists, would be advised to not lose grip on reality. Just because there are nine Greens Senators doesn't change the world, and today it certainly didn’t make any difference to how they acted when they only had four.
Over in Question Time we had the continuing farce of the ALP releasing bits of the Carbon Price policy, but not all, and then acting all shocked that the Liberals might ask them about other aspects. The ALP also again wasted Dorothy Dixers talking about Abbott, instead of talking up their own policies and programs. No one gives a damn what Abbott said about petrol, let it go. Wait until the whole thing is released and in place and then call him on all the bullshit – eg go off to Whyalla and check if it has been wiped off the face of the earth…
Till then forget him and focus on yourself – focus on what you are doing. And for God’s sake get the whole bloody policy out… and Huzzah!! They are finally doing that – this weekend:
This weekend the Gillard Government plans to announce a price on pollution as the central element of a comprehensive policy to tackle climate change, cut pollution and drive the transformation of the Australian economy to a clean energy future.
After hearing a report on the discussions of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, Cabinet agreed tonight that sufficient progress had been made to allow an announcement date to be set for Sunday 10 July 2011.
Considerable common ground has been achieved in the MPCCC talks in recent weeks.
This reflects the genuine commitment of members of the MPCCC to tackle climate change to protect Australia’s environment and support the economy.
While there will be additional discussions with the MPCCC this week, followed by further Cabinet consideration, it is expected that the remaining details will be finalised in these discussions ahead of Sunday’s announcement.
The Gillard Government’s priorities in designing the carbon price have been cutting pollution, protecting household budgets, and supporting jobs.
A carbon price is an important reform that will create incentives to lower Australia’s carbon pollution at the lowest cost to the economy.
It will do this by putting a price tag on the pollution of fewer than 1,000 businesses.
More than half the revenue raised will be used for tax cuts and increased payments to households, which will be generous, fair and permanent and will keep pace with cost impacts from the carbon price in the future.
After announcing the policy the Government intends to introduce legislation to Parliament later this year.
This will be an opportunity for all MPs to decide whether they accept the scientific advice that climate change is real and whether they accept the economic advice that a market mechanism is the cheapest and most effective way of reducing pollution.
Arrangements for media will be released this evening. Arrangements for stakeholders will be announced in the coming days.
This will not lead to any big shift in the polls (there’s little hope of that till the legislation is brought in and the world doesn’t end like Abbott says it will), but at last the phony war is over.
Now the Government has to get on the front foot and sell this policy (note “sell”, not “spin”).
They will have the whole of the winter break to do so. Let’s see how it goes…