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The power and the glory: Australia’s politicians face an upheaval

By Everald Compton - posted Friday, 4 May 2012


 

Australia has reached a watershed in its political history. Events are taking place that are about to change the way that politics is conducted in this country, and they have little to do with the current controversy about the Speaker of the Parliament.

The vast majority of political commentators emphatically predict the death of the ALP. Many are also forecasting the final days of the National Party, and some are anticipating a major change in the political alignment of the Greens. There are those who are of the view that Bob Katter’s party will prosper as a haven for the protest voter and are hopeful that the Independents may have had their day. There are also indications that the Liberals have lost their way and can’t work out whether or not they really are a conservative party.

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I reckon that a blunt assessment of the realities will evoke a few pungent comments from true believers everywhere, opening the way for me to pass them on to you in subsequent editions.

In the May 2011 edition of Everald@Large, I predicted the demise of Bob Brown and Christine Milne as leaders of the Greens. I was wrong. Only Brown has gone, but I am relieved that Milne has survived. My prediction at the time was based on a concern that the new Green Senators, who took their seats in the Parliament on June 30 last year, were radicals on the far Left of the political spectrum who would move quickly to take over their party’s agenda.

 

They have now removed Bob Brown, but misjudged Christine Milne’s political strength and courage, as they did when they tried to remove her as Deputy Leader two years ago. We should be grateful that she now has attained the leadership as, no matter what we may think of her record, she is clearly a moderate in comparison to the rest of the Green Caucus and she is a good negotiator - tough, but fair.

Her political acumen is shown by the way that she has arranged for Adam Bandt, the Greens sole member of the House of Representatives, to be appointed as Deputy Leader. He is relatively moderate in comparison to his Senate colleagues, but he will hold the role for only a short time, as he will lose his seat in the election of 2013 when none of the major parties will preference him.

This means that someone from the hard Left will become Deputy Leader, and then apply a lot of pressure on Milne to retire quickly. I hope that she toughs it out as, even if the Greens lose some Senate seats in this election, they will still hold the balance of power in the Senate, and it is best that she exercises that power.

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In my view, the future of the Greens will depend on how successful Milne is with her plan to expand their power base into rural communities. Her emphasis on the country voters is an astute tactic on her part, as there are many angry farmers out there who feel that the major parties are the political prisoners of mining companies whose

 

presence is dominating regional Australia and, in their view, destroying its long term sustainability. If successful, she will take votes away from Bob Katter and the Nationals.

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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