With power so delicately balanced between Labor and the coalition, an unlikely alliance between the Greens and the various independent MPs is one of the few outcomes that have the capacity to deliver stable governance for Australia, most probably for Gillard’s Labor.
If it were workable, an alliance would be very desirable for the Greens and Independents as it would have the potential to maximise their influence, as well as the duration of that influence, within the government.
With the Green Adam Bandt apparently lefter than left, and the ex-Nationals Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott apparently righter than right, it would appear on the surface that there is little common ground for this alliance, but such is not the case.
We can see that the Greens and the various Independents have all built their reputations on promoting community (and environmental) outcomes ahead of any ideological pursuit of economic efficiency. Subsequently, much common ground can be found in the various community development and economic management strategies that they offer.
Specifically, central to a policy platform around which they could build a mutually beneficial alliance would be policies that encourage the interdependence and vibrancy of communities at the local level through the promotion of economic diversity and local self-reliance.
Packaged correctly, such policies would be attractive to the three ex-nationals because they would have the potential of helping to bring life back to the country towns; helping small farmers to stay on the land and reversing the population decline.
They would also be attractive to the Greens as local self-reliance means local employment, local production of (hopefully organic) food, local management of resources and wastes, etc, all of which have the potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts on the environment.
As both the Greens and Bob Katter especially realise, policies such as these actually fly directly in the face of the dominant economic philosophy embraced by the major parties - the “free market”. Free trade tends to encourage specialisation rather than diversity, big business rather than small, and a focus on exports/imports rather than local self-reliance and community interdependence.
On his website, Bob Katter tells us, “Paul Keating is one of the most important people in Australian history. The architect of economic rationalism, a term tagged to Gough Whitlam's 25 per cent across the board cut in tariffs. Paul Keating abolished the Wool Marketing Scheme resulting in the price being traded down 50 per cent. The price had doubled when Dough Authority introduced the scheme.”
And concerning the National Party, “Their craving for acceptability by big business, National media, Canberra's dominant political entities Liberal and Labor, led them to decide to tell us that free market policies were good for rural Australia”.
Also, “And finally developmentalism - the free marketeers tell us ‘private enterprise must do it’. Government money provided and created the sugar industry, aluminium industry, coal industry and car industry. There wouldn't be much Australian economy if Governments had listened to this foolishness in years past.”
Meanwhile, looking at the Greens policies, we find that they will, “... pursue economic development strategies that encourage self-reliance and prioritise the sustainable production of goods and services from local sources”.
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