May 19th 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The real cost of institutionalised child care

EDITORIAL AGL dismisses $250m bid for Liddell Power Station

GENDER POLITICS As Queensland transgenders birth certificates, 300 women quit UK Labour Party

CANBERRA OBSERVED No pressure on Malcolm to call election this year

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Can Greens regenerate, or are they mulch?

POLITICS Conservative shift in the Victorian Liberal Party

OPINION No fairytale ending from the Land of a Fair Go

LAW REFORM The Nordic Model: proven to curtail sex trafficking

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Committal hearing dismisses main serious charges against Cardinal Pell

GENDER AND ETHICS Transgenderism and the dissolution of identity

PHILOSOPHY The supercharged cheetah

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS One Belt, One Road: China's new empire

HUMOUR

MUSIC Business as usual: The sweet tinkle of falling coins

CINEMA Avengers: Last Flag Flying and Infinity War

BOOK REVIEW A hungry beast that ate up 4 million lives

BOOK REVIEW Skewed analysis of republic in crisis

POETRY

LETTERS

CANBERRA OBSERVED Bill Shorten's Budget-Reply speech: for what ails you

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind the U.S.-North Korea rapprochement

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS
Can Greens regenerate, or are they mulch?


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, May 19, 2018

Following disappointing results in the recent Batman (Vic) by-election, convincingly won by Labor, and a poorer than expected showing in the recent South Australian election, the Greens face major problems in the months ahead.

Greens' leader Richard Di Natale:
Pressure's on.

The Greens’ national conference, to be held on 19–20 May in Brisbane, is the party’s last chance to resolve issues of concern to possible supporters before the next election, including widespread opposition to key Greens policies in the areas of reliable base-load power, legalisation of marijuana, and promotion of the “Safe Schools” program.

The Greens had been expected to win the Batman by-election, held in March. At the last federal election, the Greens out-polled the Liberals, and Labor’s David Feeney won by just 1 per cent after distribution of Liberal preferences to Labor.

Antony Green, the ABC’s election analyst, wrote shortly before the Batman vote: “For more than a decade, the Greens have made major advances against Labor in inner-Melbourne electorates that were once Labor bastions.”

Demography

Green added: “It is a trend driven by demography. Waves of ‘gentrification’ have changed the face of inner-city electorates where the population was once predominantly working class and significantly overseas born.

“Once undesirable inner-city residences have become more valuable and fashionable through their proximity to the city and universities.

“The new residents moving into inner- city seats are overwhelmingly university educated, professionally employed, non- religious and affluent.

“Where once such voters would have been thought of as natural Liberals, the new residents of Labor’s former working-class seats are strongly attracted to voting Green.”

With no Liberal candidate, Bill Shorten promoted former ACTU president Ged Kearney, who ran a strong grass-roots campaign for Labor, and succeeded in increasing Labor’s margin – a surprising result in a by-election.

In South Australia, the Greens were expected to increase their vote from the 9 per cent secured in the 2014 state election. In fact, their vote declined by 2 per cent, despite a large swing against both the Liberal and Labor parties. Nick Xenophon’s party, SA Best, was the beneficiary of the protest vote.

The Greens have no seats in the SA Parliament, although there are several independents.

The recent election results pose a major challenge to the Greens, who have sought to build a political base on the basis that, unlike the major parties, they are the party of compassion and principle. Among the principles that they have most firmly espoused is that fossil fuels should be outlawed, and all electricity should be generated from “alternative” sources, particularly wind and solar.

The SA Labor government embraced that agenda, and in February committed itself to a target of 75 per cent of South Australia’s energy coming from renewables by 2025. However, soaring electricity prices and unreliability of supply since the closure of SA’s last remaining coal-fired power station in 2016 cost both Labor and the Greens dearly.

While Labor is now reconsidering its policy, the Greens have re-committed themselves to the immediate closure of all coal-fired power stations in Australia, despite the fact that most of Australia’s electricity is still produced from coal.

The Greens also face opposition over their policy of legalising marijuana, as it emerges that the promotion of “medicinal marijuana” is increasingly seen as a first step in the legalisation of marijuana as a “recreational” drug.

Despite repeated claims by the Greens and their allies that marijuana is harmless or even beneficial, the medical evidence is clear. A 2014 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine summarised the effects of marijuana use as follows:

Effects of short-term use

• Impaired short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and to retain information.

• Impaired motor coordination, interfering with driving skills and increasing the risk of injuries.

• Altered judgement, increasing the risk of sexual behaviours that facilitate the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

• In high doses, paranoia and psychosis.

Effects of long-term or heavy use

• Addiction (in about 9 per cent of users overall, 17 per cent of those who begin use in adolescence, and 25 to 50 per cent of those who are daily users).

• Altered brain development.

• Poor educational outcome, with increased likelihood of dropping out of school.

• Cognitive impairment, with lower IQ among those who were frequent users during adolescence.

• Diminished life satisfaction and achievement (determined on the basis of subjective and objective measures) as compared with the general population.

• Symptoms of chronic bronchitis.

• Increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders (including schizophrenia) in persons with a predisposition to such disorders.

It is particularly surprising that the leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, a medical practitioner, has not pointed out the health risks associated with marijuana use. Until the party deals with the issues that disconnect it from mainstream Australia, its vote seems certain to stagnate.




























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