Pure Poison IconAlways a glass-half-full sort of lass, The Australian‘s Janet Albrechtsen thinks she sees a “silver lining” to the Greens’ influence in the present Parliament:

More important than uncovering the clamouring self-interest of a few independents, the last election has allowed the electorate to move from a state of somnolence to one of deep circumspection about the Greens.

Yup, this is going to be one of those Australian pieces about how people like Janet who’ve always hated the Greens still hate them now, and have convinced themselves that come on, seriously, those stupid Greens voters who keep voting Greens despite everything News Ltd says about the party must have learned their lesson by now, seriously, come on, seriously. Surely they must concede they were wrong and we were right by now, surely. Seriously. Come on.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to imagine the flimsy case she constructs changing a single vote.

For many years now, the Greens have skated under the radar of proper analysis. Many people assumed the Greens were just a tree-hugging, forest-loving party with utopian motherhood statements about “ecological sustainability” and “participatory democracy”. To his credit, Brown took feel-good politics to new heights, winning 11.8 per cent of the vote and a record 10 seats in federal parliament.

I love News Ltd’s regular attempts to wipe the slate clean and pretend that before the last election they weren’t saying exactly the same things. And pretending that the election before that they weren’t either. That people who voted Greens in 2010, 2007, 2006, had no idea that it was a progressive party committed to the environment, social justice, civil liberties, and public services. We had no idea! We completely missed every time you told us they were watermelon communists who wanted to provide services for the poor and enact real action on climate change!

It might play well to the people who never voted Greens and never would, but I’m not sure how it can be effective in driving Greens voters away from the party, since it’s based on telling them they didn’t know or want what they clearly did know and want. In fact, won’t telling them such silly lies so destroy your credibility with them that it actually innoculates Greens voters from taking seriously any credible criticisms of the party when you do find some?

Twelve months on, the new paradigm has taught us that Green politics doesn’t feel so good after all. We will soon have a carbon tax that ought to be called the BBT, the Bob Brown tax.

Just how many Greens voters does Janet imagine are against a carbon tax? Or will be deterred from voting Greens by telling them that their representatives are so powerful that they can get their own legislation passed even if the single member electorate system turns 1.5 million votes into one solitary seat in the House of Representatives?

Janet might want to consider that one of the strongest big party lines against the Greens is that because they can’t form majority government in their own right that it’s a “wasted vote”. All this “Bob Brown PM” stuff is manna from heaven for a smaller party.

We learned the power of the Greens when Greens senator Christine Milne, not a Labor minister, announced the government’s new Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Charged with spending $3.2 billion on the Greens’ pet projects, it became clear that this is the Christine Milne fund. This is what happens when the Greens get hold of the levers of power.

Again, rubbish, but hardly an argument for progressives not to vote for the Greens. It might be an argument for big party voters to be angry with their representatives for negotiating with them – if they really are annoyed with the outcome. But of course the problem with that course for Labor is that many of its voters actually do want it to do what the Greens ask, and they only vote for the bigger party because they think its size makes it more effective in achieving progressive change. The more it tries to sabotage progressive policies just because they’ve come from the Greens, the more of such voters it will lose to them.

Back to Janet – “This is what happens when the Greens get hold of the levers of power”? What? That there’s funding for renewables? I think you forgot to include the sentence where you explained why that’s a bad thing.

The getting of a Greens education these past 12 months has meant more of us see behind the carefully modulated voice of Brown to the doctrinaire green hulk that is committed to closing down the coal industry, that believes mining is evil and ought to be subjected to a super-profits tax, is driven by a utopian dream of drawing baseload power from renewables and holds a cavalier attitude to cities, such as Whyalla, which Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young thinks can be turned into windmill centres.

Unpacking that little bundle – he’s committed to replacing the coal industry with a renewable industry, not shutting it down and leaving us with nothing; Brown’s never said mining is “evil”, but he does think it should contribute more of the vast profits it’s extracting from our common heritage with the rest of the country; and why is building windmills in Whyalla evidence of “a cavalier attitude to cities”?

I know, I know, readers are supposed to just let the bullshit wash over them and accept that there must be something to it for them to publish it in, you know, a respectable journal like The Australian, but… what?

We saw the Greens at work too when the Gillard government capriciously shut down the $320 million live cattle exports trade on June 8. The cattle industry paid the price for Labor’s desperation to hold power by placating the Greens agenda. No other policy reveals a more complete disconnect between Canberra and rural and regional Australia.

Or the connect between the Greens and the majority of Australians who, upon discovering what precisely we were permitting to happen to our animals, wanted it stopped.

I like how Janet nowhere in that paragraph even mentions the problem that policy was addressing. If you’d been out of the country at the time, would you seriously believe that Labor suddenly “shut down the $320 million live cattle exports” for no reason other than the Greens asking them? Or would you, as a reasonably intelligent person, suspect that Janet was leaving out something fairly critical and find yourself even more sceptical of anything else she says?

We learned that the Greens have a peculiar view of freedom of the press. When Brown labelled News Limited the “hate media”, it became clear that a newspaper knows it is doing precisely the right thing when the Greens are upset by the scrutiny.

I suspect that if someone put Janet under the treatment she hilariously calls “scrutiny”, they’d be hearing from News Ltd’s lawyers very quickly.

And now the Greens leader is suggesting individual journalists should be licensed. This is the green face of fascism.

You know what else is fascism? Licensing broadcasters. Oh my god, we’ve been living under Mussolini for decades!

We have learned that the Greens don’t have much time for other old-fashioned notions of democracy either. At the National Press Club, Brown laid out his preference for a world government. That’s Brown’s elitist view of participatory democracy.

Wait, what? “Elitist”? And… how’s the idea of an international government fundamentally incompatible with democracy? Why couldn’t you have a democratic international parliament? Obviously there’d be huge obstacles in getting there – Brown clearly said he didn’t think it would happen for a very long time… how is a vague speculative discussion about a long-term move towards a global democracy an “elitist view of participatory democracy”?

If you want an “elitist view of participatory democracy” you can’t go past those who advocate that smaller parties’ voters be unrepresented in parliament by the parties for whom they vote, and their votes redirected to the big established parties instead.

In short, we have learned about Brown’s clever tactics as Greens leader using an environmental cloak to hide a much broader, more radical agenda to change the way we live and work to reflect the party’s anti-commerce, anti-growth beliefs. We should be eternally grateful the Greens have educated us so well these past 12 months. More voters now understand that former Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore was right when he said that when the Cold War was over and the Berlin Wall fell, the leftists moved into the environmental movement…

Apparently there are some voters who didn’t realise before this parliament that the Greens are lefties. How embarrassing for The Australian! Turns out it can’t even get out a basic message about the Greens that the party itself openly promotes. (I wonder what Janet thinks of as non-“far”, acceptable “left”? Robert Menzies?)

But maybe I’ve been doing Janet a disservice. Whilst this article is absurd if you think the aim is to change anyone’s perceptions, maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the point is simply to reinforce them. Maybe Janet is just writing the sort of stuff that people who despise everything about the Greens simply get pleasure from reading. Maybe she’s doing nothing more than preaching to the converted and building up her credentials, her credibility with them – at the same time as she’s demolishing it with everyone else.

And why shouldn’t The Australian be a place for hardcore rightwingers to read the sort of stuff that massages their egos and bashes the people they hate? Why shouldn’t Janet pander to their fantasies that those stupid Greens are really out the door this time, for sure, everybody else finally sees that you were right all along and wishes they could take their votes back and vote like you wanted them to and told them they should? Even if it’s not true in reality, so what? Why can’t they pretend, just for the minute it takes to read Janet’s pleasant fiction about a world in which no-one dared to challenge them and all their enemies were doomed?

It’s not like it’s doing the national debate any damage, is it? Leave them their innocent little pleasures and try not to laugh.

PS, Janet?

Those who waxed lyrical about that new paradigm in Australia need to answer one question. To coin a phrase, how’s all that hopey, changey stuff going now?

You didn’t “coin” that phrase. We all know who you’re quoting. And if you want to be thought of as on the same intellectual level as that person… well, columns like this will help you get there.

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