EDITORIAL: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Implications of the Labor-Green preference swap
, August 7, 2010
The decision by the Labor Party and the Greens to exchange preferences is designed to maximise the number of Labor-held seats in the House of Representatives (where governments are formed) and the number of Green seats in the Senate where the Greens are after the balance of power.
At the time of writing, one of the most respected polls, the Roy Morgan poll, put the primary votes of the Liberal-National parties at 41 per cent, just ahead of the Labor Party on 40.5. The Greens polled about 12 per cent; smaller parties (such as Family First, DLP, Christian Democratic Party and others) about five per cent; and just 5 per cent of the electorate were undecided.
With the Greens polling above 10 per cent on a national basis, there is no doubt that the preference swap will give the Greens a good chance of winning a Senate seat in all six states, lifting its representation from the current five up to as much as nine senators (two of its present senators are retiring.)
This would undoubtedly give the Greens the balance of power in the upper house, not just for the next term of Federal Parliament, but probably for the next two terms.
On these figures, the Greens are a little short of winning a seat in each state, while both the Labor Party and the Coalition are just short of their maximum of three.
At the same time, Green preferences will give Labor a chance of holding a number of its most marginal seats, and even give it a chance of winning marginal seats currently held by the Liberal Party.
An unexpected consequence of the preference deal is that it will legitimise the Greens in inner city electorates in Melbourne and Sydney, to the point where they have a chance of winning House of Representatives seats.
The Labor-held seats of Melbourne and Grayndler in Sydney could be won by the Greens if their vote gets ahead of the Liberals, and the Liberals preference the Greens.
If the preference deal puts Julia Gillard back into the prime ministership, Australia will face an utterly unexpected future: a left-wing, avowedly atheist Prime Minister, who is a founder of Emily's List, dependent on the votes of the Greens whose environmental, social and economic agenda will be disastrous for Australia.
In the period of the Rudd Government, the Labor Party's plans for a massive new tax on energy, the emissions trading scheme (ETS), was almost implemented until Tony Abbott's election as Liberal leader led to a change in direction by the federal Opposition. If re-elected, Julia Gillard will be beholden to the Greens, who will be in a position to pursue an even more extreme agenda than has been put forward by the Government, on a whole range of issues.
The Greens are committed not only to shutting down Australia's vital coal and petroleum industries, they want high taxes on the use of fuel and energy, closure of much of Australia's mining, forestry and agricultural industries, as well as policies which would effectively freeze Australia's population by reducing immigration to a trickle.
A sign of things to come was seen when the Greens' leader, Dr Bob Brown, indicated that the Greens would oppose Gillard's compromise 30 per cent mineral resources rent tax (MRRT), because it wanted to see the reinstatement of Kevin Rudd's 40 per cent resources super-profits tax (RSPT).
When pushed, he said that the Greens would support Labor's new tax, because it was better than nothing.
The Greens are against uranium mining, one of the largest export industries not covered by the Gillard Government's mineral resources rent tax, and oppose the development of coal-seam gas and open-cut coal mines.
In this nightmarish scenario, a Labor Government would be incapable of getting its legislation through the Senate except by accommodating at least part of the Greens' radical agenda.
The Greens will have in mind that their predecessors, the Australian Democrats, effectively signed their own death-warrant by supporting John Howard's goods and services tax (GST). The Greens will not want to follow them into oblivion.
Even if Tony Abbott is elected Prime Minister on August 21, the likelihood is that he will face a hostile Senate, dominated by the ALP and the Greens.
The ABC's election analyst, Antony Green, has calculated that if the major parties receive a vote comparable to that of 2007, Labor and the Coalition would each have between 35 and 37 seats in the 76-seat Senate, with the Greens holding the balance of power with a minimum of five.
Media speculation, fuelled by the Labor Party, that Mr Abbott would reintroduce John Howard's Work Choices legislation is not only inconceivable but would never get through the Senate.
Many Australians have apparently decided to vote for the Greens as a protest vote against both the major parties. The result of the preference deal between Labor and the Greens is that this will be funnelled into more Labor seats in the House of Representatives.
This will put not only Julia Gillard back into the prime ministership, but more Greens in the Senate - an alarming prospect for Australia.Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.