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Wealthy Greens the new DLP

By John Black - posted Friday, 11 June 2010

The Greens are siphoning the votes of angry Labor voters to the Liberals via preferences.

In all the millions of dollars the Prime Minister and Treasurer spent on market research and advertising plans for their new resource super-profits tax, they don't seem to have been told the richest voters in Australia are not Liberals but Greens.

I don't expect the Greens senators to realise this; there is, after all, a good reason why the Greens rarely win House of Representatives seats. But you would expect the self-appointed campaign gurus of the modern ALP to realise it, especially after spending nearly $40 million on research and marketing spin instead of simply releasing the Henry report as a green paper at Christmas and listening to the community, fixing the bugs and moving on.


In terms of dumb political economics, Labor's share dividend tax on Greens voters is up there with then shadow treasurer Wayne Swan opposing Peter Costello's tax cuts in 2005, which caused the final humiliation for Kim Beazley.

When we look at the per capita sources of income for the different voter groups, the ones with the strongest profile for investment income, which includes investment homes, bank deposits and share dividends, are the Greens. This was the case in 2007 and would be the case now.

So the political group with the most to lose from a super tax on mining - ultimately funded by looting mining share dividends - is the Greens rather than the Liberals.

And almost half the ALP's present marginal seats are won on preferences from minor parties such as the Greens, a party that is also very close to breaking through in some of Labor's traditional safe inner-city seats.

In addition to investments, the Greens income comes from high per capita wages and salaries, then small businesses, then superannuation. The only income source relatively untapped by Greens at the 2007 election was welfare or transfer payments, the main income source for the ALP base vote.

So political modelling for Labor votes doesn't work for Greens.


Greens votes in 2007 were defined by what they studied at university: arts, society and culture, architecture and education. Professionally they tended to be consultants, or worked in the media, health or education.

Greens 07 were very well-paid inner-urban renters who made extensive use of public transport and had few religious convictions. They tend not to have children until their late 30s, if at all, which makes them even richer and gives them lots of spare time to organise local political activities and annoy the rest of us.

Some of them still haunt uni campuses, churning out more Greens arts graduates, but increasingly now the Greens comprise a well-heeled professional group. Most are inner-urban dwellers in their 20s and 30s, sending their one rather indulged child to a private school. In their 40s and 50s, they adjourn to nice spots such as Noosa or a pretty little tax-deductible farming property, dabbling in winemaking or exotic fruit, while they send their children to the same inner-city private school, but as five-day boarders.

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First published in The Australian on June 5, 2010.

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About the Author

John Black is a former Labor Party senator and chief executive of Australian Development Strategies.

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