Federal Election 2019: Meet the Australian Greens

Summary

Website: https://greens.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Australian.Greens/
Slogans:
Your Movement.
Vote Climate
The Time to Act is Now.
Themes: Socially progressive, economically left wing, pro-environment.  Urgent need for climate action.
Electorate:
Upper House: All of them
Lower House: Most of them
Preferences: The Greens have a slightly mixed bag, preferencing a variety of socially progressive / environment groups in each state, and not hesitating to include the loopier ones in the mix.  Frequent flyers (and I use this term advisedly) are HEMP and the Animal Justice Party, who turn up in the top six four times each.  Independents for Climate Action Now are in the top four in all three states where they are running candidates, the and Socialist Alliance appear twice, as do the Pirates and Sustainable Australia.  There are guest appearances from Hinch’s Justice Party, the Australian Democrats, the Australian Workers Party, and several grouped independents.  Labor is always in their top six – the Greens clearly want to make sure that if your vote exhausts, it at least has a decent chance of landing somewhere tolerable.

The most notable aspects of these preference lists are the frequent appearance of the AJP and HEMP.  The Greens and the AJP have evidently made up their feud, and it also looks like the Greens have decided that it’s safe to talk about legalisation of drugs again.  So that’s a bit of a change.

Previous reviews

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Victorian State Election 2018 – Meet The Australian Greens!

I don’t have time to read all of this!
The Basics

greens1.jpgWebsite: https://greens.org.au/vic
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VictorianGreens/
Current leader: Samantha Ratnam
Campaign Website: https://victoria.greens.org.au/platform
Themes: Left. Big on the environment, inclusiveness, and social justice generally.  Currently trying to find the balance between idealism and functioning as a serious political party.

With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket

The Greens are pretty consistent with their voting ticket.  They have clearly done a deal with the Victorian Socialists, who are always first on their ticket (thus fulfilling everyone’s secret conviction that the Greens are a party of watermelons – a green shell around a red centre!).  The Animal Justice Party and the Voluntary Euthanasia Party are almost always second or third, but they give second place billing to the ungrouped independents in South Eastern Metropolitan (who are a single issue party opposing violence against women) and third place to Diana Grima in Western Metropolitan (I have not yet researched her, but this is a good sign).  The Transport Matters and Health Australia parties also do well, and the ALP is in their top five several times, and just outside it otherwise.

At the bottom of the ticket, we always have the Australian Liberty Alliance, as well we should.  The Liberal Democrats, Democratic Labour Party, Shooters and Fishers and the Liberal Party usually make up the rest of the bottom five, but the Australian Country Party makes a few appearances here as well.

Basically, no surprises here.

The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs and Other Observations

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Meet the (somewhat) Small Parties: The Australian Greens

So, we’ve talked with the animals, found religion, had a nice walk amble through the country and then hopped on our bicycles to commute into the city.  But it’s time to leave these lovely little by-ways and venture into more well-travelled territory with the Australian Greens.

I’ll confess, I always have mixed feelings when I get to my review of the Greens.  On the one hand, I do like their policies.  I like them so much that I generally wind up volunteering to scrutineer and hand out how to vote cards for them.  But on the other hand, they really do have a lot of policies and when one is reading and analysing the policies of twenty-one parties, three sets of grouped independents and nine ungrouped independents, it has to be said that one begins to hanker for the simplicity of a single-issue party, no matter how unlikely it is to ever be elected…

The Victorian corner of the Greens website (which is where I will be focusing my attention) has three rotating banners – ‘Meet the candidates’, ‘Get involved’ banner, and ‘Our initiatives: smart ways we’ll tackle the big issues’.  Across the top of the page, you have the option of  Issues, Candidates, Events, Join, Volunteer and Donate.   At the foot of the page, you have Events, Issues, Volunteer and Donate.  There’s no doubt about it – the Greens are all about Audience Participation.  Well, I imagine they call it grassroots community involvement, but there is a very definite pull to get people involved.

Let’s have a look at their Group Voting Tickets.  Incidentally, as a scrutineer who has in the past been asked to see where preferences are flowing, I can tell you that Group Voting Tickets are probably less useful for the Greens than for just about any other party – we Green Voters do seem to love voting below the line, just as we follow our own merry paths down the Lower House ballot papers, regardless of what we are told to vote.

While there is a little variation in some seats, the Greens are generally preferencing the Animal Justice Party followed by the Cyclists, with the Voluntary Euthanasia, Sex Party and Voice for the West also appearing in the top five.  Labor is generally found in the upper half of the ticket, and always well ahead of the Liberal Party.  At the bottom of every ticket, we find Family First, the DLP, the Shooters and Fishers, the Country Alliance, the Australian Christians, and last of all, Rise Up Australia.  The only times this changes is when one of those countries isn’t running a candidate, or when there is a particularly dislikeable Independent around.

It’s a fairly consistent left to right ticket, politically-speaking.  Though I think the Sex Party may be further to the right than the Greens think they are.

And over to Initiatives, which is what we are calling policies today.  (I can’t help noting that they started off calling the policies ‘Issues’, but I’m guessing they changed the name because they didn’t want smartypants voters like me commenting on the fact that the Greens have lots and lots of issues…)  The Greens have 48 Victorian State Initiatives, and I feel tired already.  I’m going to group sets of related policies, and only go into detail on the ones that seem particularly interesting.

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Politics: Who Stole Labor’s Votes?

Certain die-hard Labor supporters are turning me into a rabid Greens voter (as opposed to a mildly enthusiastic Greens voter). There is far too much unseemly rejoicing over the Liberal Party putting the Greens last on their HTV cards, tinged with a smug feeling that after all the Greens aren’t a real party and this will keep them in their place. Grown-ups don’t vote for small parties, one gathers. Sensible people realise that Australia only has two real political parties, and a vote for anything else is just a protest vote, a sign of immaturity. As for uppity small parties that try to become big parties, well, they need to be put in their place.

(and no, I am not impressed by the Liberals, either, who have expressed themselves in deeds rather than words – but then, that’s the Liberals for you. I’d hoped for better from Labor.)

As a connoisseur of small parties, this is making me furious. (Actually, it’s also hitting all my angry feminist buttons, too – presumably it’s that whole notion that the Greens are gettng ideas above their station and need to be put back in their box, which sounds awfully familiar from the feminist context.)

The thing is, the Greens did not steal my vote from Labor. Nobody did. Labor lost my vote all on its own. Not as much as the Liberal Party lost my vote, but then, the Liberal Party never really had my vote to lose. But I am not a die-hard voter of any stripe. If the Labor Party actually started acting more like the Labor Party and less like Liberals Lite, then I might well consider voting for them. If the Liberal Party developed a social conscience, I would even consider voting for them (though they probably wouldn’t be the Liberal Party any more).

If Labor wants to regain the votes of people like me, it needs to stop assuming that a vote for the Greens is a protest vote (if we are all protest voting, why are so many of us voting Green, rather than distributing our votes among such admirable protest vote choices as the Sex Party or the Socialist Alliance?), or a sign of immaturity. It needs to stop defining Green votes solely in relation to Labor, or as Labor votes gone astray (believe me, I’ve scrutineered for the Greens and Greens voters do not follow How To Vote cards. Most of them put Labor before Liberal, but there are definitely some Green Liberals out there too). Above all, it needs to stop reacting and start *thinking* about why so many people are voting Green. What values do the Greens espouse that Labor does not? Maybe these are things that Labor quite legitimately has decided it doesn’t believe in. Then again, maybe not.

But you can’t cynically move your policies closer and closer to those of the Liberal Party on the one hand, and then complain when voters flee in droves to one of the few sane parties espousing something different. It’s hypocritical.

The Greens are not, in any real political sense, a threat to Labor. They are not going to achieve government in their own right. Even if they get the balance of power, they are hardly going to support the Coalition – they have almost nothing in common. However far to the right Labor has moved, it is still closer to Green policy in almost all areas than the Coalition is likely to be. The only threat the Greens present is a moral one – by existing, by having sane and humane policies about immigration, healthcare, public transport, workplace relations, human rights, and, yes, the environment, they remind voters of what Labor used to stand for, and how far it has moved from there.

No wonder the Greens are making Labor nervous. If Labor wants to recapture those votes, they are going to have to move back towards what they used to stand for, and that’s scary, because judging by their current trajectory, Labor secretly thinks that Australians really want to vote Liberal.

Which is an indictment in itself.

Personally, I think the Green threat could be just what the Labor Party needs.

Politics: And this is why writing to politicians can actually be important…

I just received an email from the Greens Upper House MP for my electorate. The email was sent to all the people who had sent letters of support for the decriminalisation of abortion bill. In it, she included a link to her speech

http://www.electedgreensvictoria.org.au/speech.php?speech=495&filter=CH

Either she read my letter and actually used some of what I said (a couple of sentences are almost word for word) or we agree so entirely that… well that I don’t know what. I don’t think I’ve ever read a political speech on any subject where I can agree with absolutely every nuance of what she says. My faith in the Greens is much revived…

Whichever it is, I am so very happy. All that remains now is for the bill to get passed in the Upper House… The temptation to go and sit in the visitors’ gallery this week is strong. I think I’m about to become a Hansard addict again…

I’m sure there was something else I wanted to post about, but I’m just so excited by the notion that perhaps my letter actually got used by someone that I can’t think straight about anything else. I am part of the political process!

Politics: Election Day!

Yesterday was the election. Andrew and I handed out How To Vote Cards at our local Primary School from 10am to 1pm (the hazard of being married to me is that you get volunteered for everything. It’s even worse than being a friend of mine – although you do get fed more often, so I suppose it isn’t all bad).  Our friend Patricia was there before us, so we got to catch up with her at handover, and another friend, Loki, turned up to vote and stayed to be social.

I had a lot of fun (since I was sleepy-hyper) doing the big smiley friendly thing and seeing how many people who refused cards from everyone including Andrew, would take cards from me, and stay to chat, or indicate that they would vote Green. It turned out to be quite a few, which is both amusing and disturbing. It shouldn’t be that easy – I know a significant percentage of people actually don’t decide who they are voting for until they are in the polling booth, but I find that quite unfathomable

Handing out how to votes was quite different from last time. Firstly, Coburg turned out to be a two-electorate booth, which made handing out cards something of a headache (because we were supposed to ascertain which electorate people were voting in and give them the right card – and of course, most of them didn’t know). Secondly, I had a lot of people stop and ask me questions about where the Greens had sent their preferences in this seat and elsewhere, and whether voting Green would weaken the Labor party or make Liberal win. So I was very glad to have done my research, which allowed me to explain accurately, honestly and, I hope, persuasively.

And thirdly, I somehow managed to attract the woman handing out cards for Family First, of all parties, who decided at a glance that I looked like someone to be friends with, and acted accordingly. We chatted on and off through quite a lot of the shift, and by the time Andrew and I left, she was hanging out happily with all the lefties inside the gates, while the Liberal man languished outside on the path. After all, we agreed that we were all there for the same reason – we want Victoria to be a better place, we just disagree about which party will give that result. I felt rather sorry for her, actually – she had driven down from Bairnsdale to work at another booth from 7am, and then stayed at ours from 12 until 6 – and very, very few people wanted her cards (or, indeed, voted that way, as I soon discovered). Which is a good thing, really, but what a way to spend your day…

At the end of the day, I went back to do scrutineering. This turned out also to be very different from last time, and not in a good way. We watched them open the boxes, pour out the votes, sort and count them, which is always interesting – but we’d also been asked to tally where everyone’s preferences were going in both the lower house and the upper house, which was an utter nightmare. To make life more fun, one of the officers seemed to object to me – the Labor man could make objections, but whenever I opened my mouth (which wasn’t all that often) she told me I wasn’t supposed to be talking… to do him justice, the Labor man eventually got fed up with this and mildly pointed out that I was also allowed to offer opinions, but it was rather uncomfortable, and made me start wondering whether I had misunderstood my role. Fortunately she left after the lower house was counted.

The upper house count, while taxing, was also fascinating. To my intense amusement, while Liberal and Family First voters vote overwhelmingly above the line, Green voters are basically loose cannons, about one in 5 of whom vote below the line. My fellow Green scrutineer and I agreed that this was something to be proud of. The ALP mostly vote above the line, but had a significant minority below the line. There was definitely a clear trend that the further left-wing the party, the more inclined its voters were to choose their own preferences, thank you. Makes me wonder what the Socialists are like, actually.

And then when we were all done, they discovered that they were missing a significant number of votes. As in, closer to 100 than to 50. So they recounted everything in batches, and that didn’t help. I left at the point when they decided to recount everything again, from scratch, while hunting for any boxes that might not have been emptied – since it was all too probable that they would be there all night.

And then home to watch it all on TV. And to discover that after all this work – it seems that the Greens are doing precisely as well as they did last election – not a percent more or less…

Politics: The Australian Greens and Preferences

ou know, it’s always fun when two people whose integrity I’m inclined to trust say opposite things about a yes/no issue such as ‘Are the Greens preferencing the Liberal party in some seats’.

Hmm.

The answer, as far as I can see, is a resounding ‘well, sort of’. I’ve downloaded from the Greens website a document called ‘How to Vote Greens’, which shows all the How to Vote Cards for the Lower House seats.

There are (if I have counted correctly) 98 Lower House seats in Victoria. In 71 of them, the Greens have preferenced Labor ahead of Liberal. In 4, they are asking people to put Greens first, and to number the rest in any order they like.

And in 23 (mostly in country Victoria, but also, to my surprise, in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne), they have issued a ‘split ticket’ – where one side favours Labor over Liberal, the other Liberal over Labor (actually, there is one other split ticket, in Footscray, where one side favours an independent ahead of Labor, and the other doesn’t, but both are preferenced ahead of Liberal, so this isn’t part of the issue). Which is, as [livejournal.com profile] cjander potentially damaging to Labor – depending on which side of the card faces up.

(I also note with interest that in Lyndhurst alone of all electorates, they’ve preferenced Family First ahead of the Liberal party – although since the Liberal candidate is Gary Anderton, this is perhaps not so surprising. The Greens have also done pretty well out of the donkey vote, being listed first on the voting card in at least 25 seats)

What does all this mean (aside from the fact that both people I mentioned above are technically correct)? Well, to me it means that yes, in some areas, around half of all people following Green How To Vote Cards will be preferencing Liberal ahead of Labor. And I’m not very happy about that. If the Greens truly don’t care which way the preferences go in those seats, they should do what they did in the 4 seats where they encourage voters to put Greens first and then vote whatever they like (although that does carry the risk of people voting informal, so perhaps this is an unfair expectation).

But for me, while I don’t like this particular piece of politics at all, it isn’t actually a deal-breaker. Why? Well, first, I’m handing out how to vote cards in an electorate where the Greens do, unequivocally, preference Labor. In fact, I note that in both Brunswick and Melbourne, the seats near me that were strongly contested by the Greens in 2002, they also unequivocally preference Labor (I admit, I really do not understand what logic underlies their choice of areas for split tickets – I would have thought Kew, of all places, would be a safe Liberal seat – why encourage them, then? Or are the Doctors’ Wives at work here? In which case, again – why encourage the Liberals??).

Primarily, though, I still like the Greens’ policies the best of all that I have read. Oddly enough, this isn’t about me being a great environmentalist (I’m a pretty poor one, actually). But their policies in the areas of health, disability, public transport, social justice, and many other things appeal to me very strongly. Do I think they are ready to form a government? By no means. And I can’t imagine that they will in the near future. But I’d really like to see what they can do in collaboration with a Labor Government. I am quite partial to the Bracks government, and I like their policies and promises as well. I want to see them get back in – but I’d really like to see the Greens have a voice in the Lower House as well as the Upper House. Politics needs a few idealists in it, and I think the Greens need to learn how to work and play well with the larger parties if they want to become a more major party themselves.

And this, incidentally, is why I’m not actually a member of the Greens. I’m a swing voter – I’ve been swinging pretty strongly towards the Greens for several years now, but I’ve voted in other directions in the past, and may well do so again. I don’t think I’m cut out to join any party, to be honest – I’m not single-minded enough, perhaps; my favourite moments in politics are the ones where people from different parties work together to achieve goals. And it seems unethical to join a party knowing that I might not be there for the long haul – I’d rather throw my energy behind whoever currently best represents my vision for Australia, on a case-by-case basis. And write lots of letters to politicians in between elections…

Hmm… this has gotten very unfocused, sorry. I meant simply to get to the bottom of all this business with preferences, but got sidetracked.

Politics: The Australian Greens – to join, or not to join?

Is it symbolic, do you think, that when I letterboxed for Labor last week, I got sunburned on my right shoulder, but when I handed out how to vote cards for the Greens yesterday, I got burned on my left shoulder? Comments about the left- and right-wingishness of these parties come strongly to mind… (if you’re wondering why I was helping two separate parties, it is because a friend of mine was running for the wrong party ;-), and also because for some reason they do not print political parties next to names on Council ballots, which I think is appalling, so I want to make sure as many people as possible actually know who they are voting for, whether it is someone I like or not)

I’ll not go into detail about the joys of walking 40 minutes in weather which is 34 degrees and humid in order to stand around for 2 1/2 hours handing out how to vote cards in more of this weather. I’m sure you can imagine it. I suggest you don’t, though. It wasn’t fun, and while it may have been my own stupidity that caused me to wear brand new sandals, that did not add to the fun. I did quite enjoy the scrutineering, though, despite the heat and the fact that we couldn’t turn on the airconditioning because it blew the papers around. I really do not cope well with hot weather, and I stupidly did not have any water with me, so I’m still feeling a bit wrecked.

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Politics: Accidental Volunteering, and Deliberate Reading

This time, it’s political…

I’ve been reading the Australian Greens’ policy document today. All 92 pages (online, of course) of it. This seemed an appropriate step since I accidentally volunteered to hand out how to vote cards / do scrutineering on election day. Well, not accidentally. But certainly in a spur of the moment, hey look, the Greens’ campaign office is at this tramstop, sort of way.

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