How The Greens lost Australia

Before and After, NSW election. Source: The Daily Telegraph

As you should all (hopefully) Know by now, the Liberals won Saturday’s NSW election in an unprecedented, record win – stripping away seats from Labor’s heartland that no one ever expected a Liberal to represent with swings upward of 20%. More relevant to this blog is that the Greens performed very poorly relative to everyone’s predictions, not winning a single seat in the lower house and winning only 1% of the voters fleeing from Labor (by comparison, the Libs had 11.4%).

By everyone’s account, the Greens have really collapsed in the last few weeks. Some say this had a lot to do with Fiona Byrne and her BDS effort, particularly the double-game she was playing later, trying to deny her support for the movement to the media whilst simultaneously flouting it to groups that may vote for her because of it. The Sydney Morning Herald’s editorial this morning even referred to the policy as “childish and indulgent”. Matthew Franklin and Amos Aikman give a pretty good run-down of this for The Australian, particularly regarding the Greens’ admission that the issue hurt their campaign:

Anti-Israeli stance focus of Greens review | The Australian

Federal Greens leader Bob Brown admitted yesterday that voters were upset by Ms Byrne’s repeated misleading statements over her decision in December, as Marrickville Mayor, to support a motion boycotting goods and cultural exchanges from Israel.

Ms Byrne said early in the campaign that if elected to parliament she would push for a statewide ban. However, she subsequently labelled her comments a “falsehood” when they were reported by The Australian. Ms Byrne later denied she had “pushed” for the motion, but was revealed to have been planning to speak at an anti-Israeli-apartheid rally this week.

Asked yesterday whether Ms Byrne’s actions, which plagued the latter days of her campaign, had contributed to her failure, Senator Brown said: “I think it had an effect on it — that’s my feedback from the electorate and it’s no doubt something that the NSW Greens will be looking at.”

Another issue that was brought to light in this election is that the major parties, particularly Labor, are finally realising that supporting the Greens only hurts them. Labor NSW upper-house member and campaign spokesman Luke Foley has repeatedly called for Labor to turn against the Greens, and in only one seat – Coogee – did Labor and the Greens come to any sort of preference deal, presumably because Labor candidate for Coogee Paul Pierce is rumoured to be married to a Green. Coogee fell to the Liberals regardless.

Victorian Liberal senator Helen Kroger has written on how the Greens’ ostensible success was mostly as a result of the major parties preferencing them in order to take power away from each other. Without Liberal preferences, Adam Bandt would never have won Melbourne.

Victorian and NSW election results may spell end to green team dream | Herald Sun

THE Victorian and New South Wales elections may have put an end to Bob Brown’s hopes of an advancing political greenslide in Australia. In the NSW election on Saturday night, the ALP primary vote dropped 13.5 per cent but the Greens picked up only 1.4 per cent, with the Coalition’s primary vote increasing 14.1 per cent, picking up the overwhelming majority of disaffected Labor and independent voters.

The Greens were relying on the Liberals to win four seats in the Victorian state election. We [Liberals] refused to preference them and they didn’t win a seat. On Saturday night, they were expected to win the inner-city seats of Balmain and Marrickville, but they now look like winning neither.

With a huge collapse in the ALP’s primary vote, the Greens should have won these seats where the swings required were only 3.7 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively. More and more, the public is becoming deeply suspicious of the consequences of the extremist policies of selfish inner-city professionals who vote for the Greens.

These voters – usually on the government payroll and in secure jobs, living comfortably in wealthy inner-city suburbs – can afford to worry about climate change and not about jobs, mortgages and a future for their children.

These voters are largely disengaged from the general public in the suburbs.

This last point is particularly important. The Greens have really shown themselves to be a fringe group of “champagne socialists.” Moving more and more into the mainstream does not seem to be moderating them, but rather exposing them as ideologues and extremists with little real political credibility. This is particularly true in NSW, where their leader, Lee Rhiannon, is a former Stalinist who supported the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and of course this business with Fiona Byrne.

Readers may also be interested in watching Byrne’s concession speech, as well as the live response from the people of Marrickville.


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  1. #1 by jasonr on March 28, 2011 - 2:06 pm

    What everybody seems to be glossing over is the fact the boycott was a Labor motion. It was supported by ALL Labor and Greens councillors on Marrickville Council. It was not a Greens or Fiona Byrne motion.

    • #2 by MK on March 28, 2011 - 2:30 pm

      I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “Labor motion”. The motion was proposed by Greens councillor Cathy Peters, with the full support of her party. It is true that it only passed due to support from Labor councillors, however they have since indicated regret for doing so and have said that they would vote to rescind the motion. More importantly, all senior members of the ALP, including state and federal politicians, who have commented on this have said that it is not Labor policy and it was wrong of them to support it.

      On the other hand, the NSW Greens passed a motion last December to support BDS, which the Marrickville motion was a direct result of. The Greens have failed on all levels to criticise, condemn or renounce the motion, saying only that it is “NSW but no national Greens policy”. The motion has been defended repeatedly by Marrickville mayor and NSW Greens candidate Fiona Byrne, as well as NSW Greens leader David Shoebridge.

      Yes, the Labor councillors who voted for the motion should be held up to some scrutiny, but it was definitely the Greens who were the driving force behind it.

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