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In bed with the Greens

By Malcolm Colless - posted Friday, 3 September 2010

Big business would always argue that, ultimately, predictability and consistency in government policy making are more important than which of the major political parties is running the country.

The rationale behind this is quite simple: so long as businesses know what they are in for they can budget and plan accordingly. Surprises are not helpful for successful business strategies.

For example big business support for the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme was predicated on this premise. The fact that energy costs to consumers would rise sharply as a result of this trading scheme, was clearly well down its priority list.


But the only certainty from the backwash of the recent Federal election is the prospect of unpredictability in decision making and policy planning.

In the days of turmoil since the August 21 poll the electorate has repeatedly heard that the bottom line for the Independents, as they exercise their new found bargaining power on the major party leaders, is for a stable government.

Surely the best way for Katter, Oakeshott and Windsor to demonstrate this is to follow the voting intention of their constituencies which seems to clearly favour supporting the coalition regardless of their personal feuding with the National Party.

Meanwhile the formalising into a marriage of convenience of what was a de facto relationship between Labor and the Greens during the election campaign comes as no surprise considering the desperation of the Gillard administration to cling on to power.

The agreement reached between Labor and the Greens essentially deals with peripheral issues, such as a cap on political donations and budget consideration for more spending on dental care, in return for an assurance from the Greens that they will not block supply nor support no-confidence motions in Labor unless they instigate them.

The balance of this agreement effectively flags the impending increased parliamentary influence of the Greens in the House of Representatives and in the Senate from July 1 next year when they will hold the balance of power with nine Senators.


And it is hard to believe that the Greens will not use this increased power to drive their own agenda in areas critically affecting the future of the Australian economy such as coal mining. Meanwhile, there is no indication from the Greens on how they will respond in the Senate to legislation which passes through the lower House.

Nothing here should give the electorate any comfort that Australia is in for a period of stable government.

The Labor government has taken Australia on a budgetary roller coaster ride since it came to power in 2007 under Kevin Rudd - leaving the country with a monumental deficit. Julia Gillard says the electorate should take heart from the fact that she has learned the error of Kevin’s ways and under her leadership the country will be back on the rails.

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About the Author

Malcolm Colless is a freelance journalist and political commentator. He was a journalist on The Times in London from 1969-71 and Australian correspondent for the Wall Street Journal from 1972-76. He was political editor of The Australian, based in Canberra, from 1977-81 and a director of News Ltd from 1991-2007.

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