November 27th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: The Greens' agenda, in their own words

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Lacklustre Gillard under fire from her own party

DIVORCE LAWS: Gillard Govt to curb fathers' access to shared custody

EDITORIAL: Why Labor could lose Victoria

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: New Zealand's experience with indigenous land claims

GLOBAL ECONOMY I: Ireland's woes show depth of financial crisis

GLOBAL ECONOMY II: Currency wars and the rise of China

KOREAN WAR: 60th anniversary of a nasty but necessary war

MEDIA: ABC denigrates former ASIO director-general

NEW SOUTH WALES: Tribunal rejects homosexual vilification complaint

HISTORY: Euthanasia foundational to Nazi program

OPINION: The difference between conservatism and Labor


BOOK REVIEW: COLONIAL COUSINS: A Surprising History of Connections between India and Australia

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COVER STORY: The Greens' agenda, in their own words

by Hon. Kevin Andrews MP

News Weekly, November 27, 2010

In order to fully comprehend the Greens' political ideology, it is necessary to understand the historical roots and foundations of both our own Western, liberal democratic culture - and that of the Greens.

Kevin Andrews MP

While shared to some extent by all liberal democracies, Australia's values have been adapted to our unique setting, moulded and modernised through waves of settlement by people from all over the world. These values and principles reflect strong influences on Australia's history and culture. They include our Judaeo-Christian religious and ethical heritage, a British parliamentary democracy embracing an earlier Roman understanding of the importance of the law, and the spirit of the European Enlightenment, including a reliance on the empirical and the scientific.

It was Christianity in particular, building on both the Greek and Judaeo traditions, that insisted on the dignity of all humans. Humans should not be used as a means. Based on the belief that men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, the idea of intrinsic human dignity gradually shaped European civilisation.

The idea of human dignity was also propounded by one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant. In his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, Kant argued: "Everything has either a price or a dignity. Whatever has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent; on the other hand, whatever is above all price, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity. But that which constitutes the condition under which alone something can be an end in itself does not have mere relative worth, i.e., price, but an intrinsic worth, i.e., a dignity."

Kant's famous imperative upheld human dignity: "Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only."

The centrality of human dignity is reflected in many national and international proclamations. The primary truth, according to the American founders, and held to be self-evident, is the equality of all men and women, derived from Biblical belief: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

This emphasis on the inherent dignity of the individual reflects not only the Judaeo-Christian foundation of the West, but the classic liberal philosophy that underpinned its subsequent development. The notion was also reflected in the development of the Common Law.


In their early manifesto, The Greens, Bob Brown and Peter Singer identify the origins of the Australian Greens movement in two strands. The first, well-known strand has its origins in the United Tasmania Group, later morphing into the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, and the election of Norm Sanders, Gerry Bates and Bob Brown to the State Parliament. By 1989, the Greens had secured five seats in the Tasmanian Parliament, and held the balance of power.

The modern Greens party, however, had an earlier origin in the green bans applied by the Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s in New South Wales. Indeed the visit to Australia by the German activist, Petra Kelly, in 1977, was influential in the foundation of the German Greens. Jack Mundey, a Communist Party official and the then NSW leader of the militant union, the Builders Laborers Federation (BLF), was subsequently invited to conferences in Europe and North America.

The Greens operate out of a set of ideological principles and beliefs that extend beyond the warm, cuddly environmentalism they wrap themselves in. While "environmentalism" lies at the core of the Greens' ideology, their policies, if ever enacted, would radically change the economic and social culture of Australia.

John Black has analysed Green voters over a series of elections. In a recent report, he categorises Green voters. First, those who vote Green as their primary vote: "This is the Don's Party group that used to be in the ALP in the sixties and seventies: young university students or graduates, frequently working or still studying in academia, no kids, often gay, arts and drama type degrees or architecture where they specialise in designing environmentally-friendly suburbs, agnostic or atheist, often US or Canadian refugees from capitalism, but well paid in professional consulting or media jobs."

While the Greens appeal to an alliance of young, tertiary-educated students and professionals, the Party has increasingly been infiltrated at the parliamentary level by members of the hard left. Let me take two examples. New South Wales senator-elect, Lee Rhiannon, is a former member of the Moscow-aligned Socialist Party of Australia. Her parents were prominent members of the Communist Party.

The new member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, was a radical student activist. He once attacked the Greens as a "bourgeois" party. Writing on a Marxist website in the 1990s, Mr Bandt attacked capitalism, arguing that ideological purity was paramount. It is clear from comments of his in 1995 that Bandt views the Greens as a vehicle for his ideological pursuits.

There are many descriptions that could be applied to the Greens, but none seems more accurate than Jack Mundey's own description of "ecological Marxism." This description sums up the two core beliefs of the Greens. First, the environment or the ecology is to be placed before all else. This is spelt out in the first principle in the Greens Global Charter: "We acknowledge that human beings are part of the natural world and we respect the specific values of all forms of life, including non-human species."

Second, the Greens are Marxist in their philosophy, and display the same totalitarian tendencies of all previous forms of Marxism when applied as a political movement. By totalitarian, I mean the subordination of the individual and the impulse to rid society of all elements that, in the eyes of the adherent, mar its perfection.

According to the Greens' ideology, human dignity is neither inherent, nor absolute, but relative. Humans are only one species amongst others. As Brown and Singer write: "We hold that the dominant ethic is indefensible because it focuses only on human beings and on human beings who are living now, leaving out the interests of others who are not of our species, or not of our generation."

Elsewhere, they equate humans with animals: "The revolutionary element in Green ethics is its challenge to us to see ourselves in universal terms. ... I must take into account the interests of others, on the same footing as my own. This is true, whether these others are Victorians or Queenslanders, Australian or Rwandans, or even the non-human animals whose habitat is destroyed when a forest is destroyed."

What is revolutionary about this statement is not that the interests of another should be considered in an ethical judgment. Judeo-Christian belief extols consideration of others, as does Kant's Golden Rule. Burke wrote of society being a compact across generations. What is revolutionary is the equation of humans and animals.

Peter Singer expands these notions in his other works on animal liberation. He charges that humans are guilty of "speciesism", that is, preferring their own species over all others. It leads him to argue in favour of infanticide and doctor-assisted suicide on one hand; and bestiality on the other, provided there is mutual consent!

Peter Singer's influence is evident in the Greens' ideology. The author of a series of books, including Animal Liberation, Singer not only co-authored the Greens' manifesto with Bob Brown, but stood as a candidate for the party in the Kooyong in 1994, and subsequently as a Senate candidate.

Pagan belief system

The Green movement projects the whole planet with a spiritual dimension. The British chemist, James Lovelock, described the Earth as a complex living organism, of which humans are merely parts. He named this planetary organism after the Greek goddess who personified the earth - Gaia - and described "Her" as "alive".

Singer and Brown are correct to describe this as revolutionary. It involves the creation of a new pagan belief system, concerned not with the relationship between humans and a creator, but based on a deification of the environment.

For the Greens, a pristine global environment represents earthly perfection. It underpins their "ecological wisdom" and is at the core of the new ethic. It is to be protected and promoted at all costs. Hence, all old growth forests are to be locked up; logging is to be prohibited; wealth is to be scorned; economic growth is opposed; exclusive ownership of property is questioned; there should be a moratorium on fossil fuels exploration; dam construction should be discouraged; genetic engineering and agricultural monoculture is rejected; world trade should be reduced; and a barter economy encouraged.

It explains why the Greens believe the world's population is excessive and should be reduced, and why human consumption should be cut.

The Greens' belief in their environmental nirvana manifests itself in a new coercive utopianism.

The Greens' "ecological wisdom" is the principle upon which all other policies are founded. It shapes their views about every aspect of public policy. It is the foundation of their new ethic.

The centrality of the environment is the foundation of the Greens' economic policies: "Human societies exist within, and are dependent upon, natural systems; resource management is, therefore, central to good economic management." For the Greens, "economic development must be compatible with, and subservient to, ecological sustainability". (My emphasis added).

Consistent with this principle, the Greens advocate high levels of state ownership in the economy and an expanded role for the bureaucracy, including an extensive international regulatory bureaucracy. They advocate government ownership of natural monopolies, and government investment in strategic assets.

This is consistent with the directions set out by Brown and Singer, who questioned economic growth, advocated higher taxes, sought the introduction of death duties and resource taxes. Wealth is scorned. The fact that wealth generation has resulted in economic prosperity for both individuals and the nation, and lifted many people out of poverty is of less significance than the deification of the environment.

Their 2007 policies included a commitment to "implement a gradual and long-term shift in the tax-system from work-based taxes to taxes on natural resources and pollution". Their current policies include removing FTB on vehicles, abolishing the private health insurance rebate, taxing family trusts like companies, increasing top marginal tax rates, introducing death taxes and increasing the company tax rate. The Greens are a high taxing party.

The Greens are deeply sceptical of international trade. This anti-trade stance is reinforced in the Greens' Global Charter that encourages "the reduction of the transport of goods around the world, in line with a preference for local production". In their charter, the Greens also commit to working "towards establishing an international court of justice specific for environmental destruction and the loss of biodiversity where cases can be heard against corporations, nation states and individuals".

Nowhere is the Greens' totalitarian impulse to impose global governance more evident.

The Greens are advocates of an enlarged welfare state. Brown and Singer proposed "a guaranteed adequate income for all" with no requirements that people look for work and free childcare in the workplace. The Greens would increase the age pension and subsidies for public housing. They are opposed to income management. Their welfare measures would have to be paid for through higher taxes on a nation less reliant on global trade.

The rapid increase in the standard of living of humanity and the reduction of global poverty is largely due to the energy revolution of the past century.

The Greens' support a moratorium on all new fossil fuel exploration and development. They are opposed to building any more coal-fired power stations, and would pressure existing ones by prohibiting any public funding of refurbishments. They would also prohibit the opening of new mines or expansion of any existing mines, hence phasing out coal exports, ending one of Australia's largest export industries, and forcing other nations to use dirtier sources of coal.

The Greens are also opposed to "any expansion of nuclear power" and, where it exists, "will work to phase it out rapidly".

The Greens would force up the price of electricity and other forms of energy significantly: "energy prices should reflect the environmental and social costs of production and use." Their reliance on new green energy would be much more expensive for individuals and businesses.

The Greens want farmers to practise sustainable agriculture, but their policy documents are vague. However, what is clear from the recent discussion of the Murray-Darling Basin is that greater central planning and less water will be part of their outcome. Farmers will also face rising energy and fertiliser costs, and new and higher taxes.

The private ownership of property and resources, which have underpinned democratic capitalism, is questioned by the Greens. In their Global Charter, they propose to "review the relationship between the exclusive ownership of property and exclusive use of its resources, with a view to curbing environmental abuse and extending access for basic livelihood to all, especially indigenous communities". This smacks of collectivism under a different name.

Social policies

The Greens' social policies are linked to their belief in the primacy of the environment. Hence Brown and Singer commence their Greens' manifesto by reference to the alleged overpopulation of the world. "Little is being done to discuss slowing population growth," they later complain.

This sentiment repeats the Malthusian fear of global overpopulation, contrary to the latest demographic evidence. Combined with a rejection of economic growth, the Greens future is the civilisational death already underway in much of Europe.

These policies are evidence once again that the Greens place no intrinsic value in human life, which is merely instrumental, because intrinsic value lies in the environment itself.

This ideology is manifest in the Greens' approach to life issues - infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia - where a person has a right to commit suicide, and be assisted if necessary. The Greens' policies support euthanasia; Peter Singer has been an advocate of it and infanticide; and the euthanasia practitioner, Dr Philip Nitschke, stood as a Greens candidate in the Northern Territory.

Equally, the Greens believe that human (and non-human) relations are based simply on consensual activity. Hence marriage can be between any two persons, regardless of gender.

In their Greens manifesto, Brown and Singer quote Phillip Adams comments that "we must scrap our drug laws". "Eventually, Australia, like other countries, will have to make peace with illicit drugs," they add.

Following widespread criticism of their policies in 2004 to provide addicts with a regulated supply of heroin and ecstasy, the Greens now state that they "do not support the legalisation of currently illegal drugs". However, they have recently stated their continued support for supervised injection rooms.

The Greens want to restrict non-government education. They argue for the reduction in "the total level of Commonwealth funding for private schools to 2003-04 levels. This would immediately cut funding by $427 million per year to Catholic schools alone. They have also stated that they will place limits on the number of new private schools, and that anti-discrimination laws will be used to prevent religious schools from giving priority to committed practising Christians when employing teachers. They would also move to stop private schools having control over their own enrolments, and end the schools chaplaincy program.

The Greens' documents speak on "participatory democracy" as one of their foundation principles, but they favour global and central decision-making: Hence the creation and expansion of international bodies, including the United Nations and new world environmental courts.

While Greens leader, Bob Brown, is currently advocating "states rights" to repeal the Commonwealth legislation about euthanasia, and claiming that the decision of the Commonwealth Parliament pursuant to ssection 121 of the Australian Constitution is undemocratic, he has been an active advocate of actions to override state laws on two occasions.

In 1996, Brown wrote: "There are other, virtually untried, powers that the federal government could use to protect the environment. Among them is the power granted under the constitution to the Commonwealth to regulate trading entities, including logging, mining and energy corporations." Clearly the use of constitutional powers is good if it is to advance a Green cause, but bad if to achieve an outcome they reject.

What is at stake in the Greens' "revolution" is the heart and soul of Western civilisation, built on the Judaeo-Christian/Enlightenment synthesis that upholds the individual - with obligations and responsibilities to others, but ultimately judged on his or her own conscience and actions - as the possessor of an inherent dignity and inalienable rights. What is also at stake is the economic system that has resulted in the creation of wealth and prosperity for the most people in human history.

The Hon. Kevin Andrews is a Victorian federal Liberal MP and former senior Howard Government mnister. He is currently shadow minister for families, housing and human services. This article is a shortened version of an address he delivered at the annual News Weekly dinner in Melbourne on November 10, 2010. The original footnoted version of his address is available at

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