September 18th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Gillard sweeps Greens into power

CANBERRA OBSERVED: One outside shock could topple Gillard Government

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The Green menace we must mobilise against

WATER: A solution to the Murray-Darling Basin crisis

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Why WA will acquire land for Browse Basin gas project

OPINION: Absentee voting an open door to fraud

CHINA: It's capitalism, but not as we know it

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: China's military build-up threatens Taiwan

OPINION: Australia: no place for sharia law

CULTURE: Pathology as entertainment

UNITED NATIONS I: UN conference downunder sidesteps controversy

UNITED NATIONS II: A farce: the UN's World Youth Conference

ENVIRONMENT: Radical environmentalists inspired US eco-terrorist

Army Reserve numbers (letter)

'Our' new government (letter)

Actors or actresses? (letter)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: US government funds mosques abroad / America's dying constitution / US consumers will drag us back into recession / Economic defeatism taking hold


BOOK REVIEW: THE KINDLY ONES: A Novel, by Jonathan Littell

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Gillard sweeps Greens into power

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, September 18, 2010
The most significant aspect of the return of the federal Labor Government is that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has entered into a formal agreement with the Greens which will give the Greens access to real power in Australia for the first time ever.

What was most disappointing about the decision of two of the independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, to side with Labor was that they have entrenched the Greens as a full partner in the next government, despite the fact that it won just one seat in the House of Representatives where governments are made.

As The Australian's Paul Kelly pointed out, such a deal was a capitulation. The Greens were never going to support the Liberals against Labor in a vote of confidence.

Kelly wrote: "Gillard has won nothing more than the Greens had publicly offered - yet she has gifted them a formal alliance covering principles, goals, working partnership and policy. ... How will people, notably voters in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, react at hearing that Gillard's response to losing her governing majority at the election is to strike an alliance with the Greens and move even further to the Left?" (The Australian, September 2, 2010).

The terms of the formal alliance, published in full on the Greens' web site, make scary reading.

Apart from the parliamentary reforms, which were also the subject of negotiations with the independent MPs, the five-page written agreement gives Senator Bob Brown and the Greens' sole lower-house MP, Adam Bandt, unprecedented weekly access to the Prime Minister "to discuss and negotiate any planned legislation" from the day the next government is formed.

Further, it gives the Greens access to the Prime Minister's Department and other government departments for analysis and costing of all the Greens' policies.

How this works out in practice is not hard to see. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has already promised to introduce legislation for same-sex marriage on the first sitting day of the new parliament.

We are also likely to see legislation for euthanasia, an extension of anti-discrimination legislation against religious bodies, and reintroduction of legislation for a human rights act or charter of rights, as recommended by the Brennan inquiry, which was supported by the Greens but abandoned by Kevin Rudd.

On environmental policy, the Greens' agenda of further restrictions on farming, forestry and fishing will also come to the fore.

To accommodate the Greens, Julia Gillard has foreshadowed the introduction of a new carbon tax, in addition to Labor's 30 per cent mineral resources rent tax (MRRT).

These taxes will be a major impost on business, and flow through into higher prices for electricity, food, petrol and other necessities of life, as well as making Australia's manufacturers, miners and farmers less competitive both domestically and in international markets.

The Greens-Labor agreement states that "Australia must tackle climate change and ... reducing carbon pollution by 2020 will require a price on carbon. Therefore the parties agree to form a well-resourced Climate Change Committee which encompasses experts and representative ALP, Greens, independent and Coalition parliamentarians who are committed to tackling climate change and who acknowledge that reducing carbon pollution by 2020 will require a carbon price. The committee will be resourced like a Cabinet committee. The parties will, by the end of September 2010, finalise the structure, membership and work plan of the committee."

The most revealing aspect of this statement is that it assumes that CO2 - which it confuses with carbon - is a pollutant, that reducing CO2 will "tackle climate change", and that the parliamentary Climate Change Committee will comprise people "who are committed to tackling climate change and who acknowledge that reducing carbon (sic) pollution by 2020 will require a carbon price", that is, people who have already assumed what is to be proved.

On other issues, the agreement was less specific. It proposed examination of a national dental scheme, an "implementation study" on a national high-speed rail network, and a full parliamentary debate on the war in Afghanistan, on which Labor and the Greens are on opposite sides.

All this indicates that Julia Gillard will lead a weak government, beholden to the ideologues of the Green Party, even though the Greens will only secure the balance of power in the Senate from July next year.

In the months ahead, it will be important for Australians to continue to stand up for the Australian way of life, and to oppose policies which will undermine the social fabric of Australia, further weaken Australian primary and secondary industries, and impose massive costs on Australian families.

This is the challenge we now face.

Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

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