EDITORIAL: Greens fracture over anti-Israel policy
by Peter Westmore
News Weekly, April 16, 2011
Deep fissures have emerged between the parliamentary leader of the Greens, Dr Bob Brown, and the NSW branch of the party, over the NSW branch’s anti-Israel policy.
The NSW branch has been pursuing an anti-Israel policy for some time. This policy, known as “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”, has been actively pursued by leading NSW Greens, including the mayor of Marrickville, Fiona Byrne, and it was adopted as the official policy of the municipality in December 2010.
The policy was not a secret. In fact, the resolution explicitly called for it to be conveyed to the local ALP MPs, Carmel Tebbutt and her husband Anthony Albanese, seeking their support.
When Fiona Byrne stood recently as the Greens’ candidate for the safe Labor seat of Marrickville, challenging the ALP Left’s Carmel Tebbutt, the Greens’ anti-Israel policy was publicly criticised by the ALP, and its criticism was eventually picked up by the daily newspapers.
Up to this time, Dr Bob Brown had said nothing publicly against the NSW Greens’ policy.
After Fiona Byrne was narrowly defeated in the state seat of Marrickville, there was a great deal of hand-wringing in the Greens as to the extent to which the anti-Israel policy had contributed to the outcome.
Incoming Greens’ senator from New South Wales, Lee Rhiannon, a strong supporter of the policy, told a journalist, “Months before the election, we needed to explain why the Greens backed BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] and we needed to work closer with our allies on BDS; academics, the Arab community and social justice movements in Sydney and Melbourne. Collectively we didn’t do enough to amplify support for BDS and show that this is part of an international movement.” (New Matilda, March 30, 2011).
Lee Rhiannon’s position should come as no surprise. In her youth, she was a member of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), and after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 led to a split in the CPA, she became a member of the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia (SPA) which supported the Soviet invasion.
Ms Rhiannon joined the Greens in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has been a Greens member of the NSW upper house since 1999.
When Ms Rhiannon’s anti-Israel comments were reported in the media, Bob Brown’s initial response was to denounce The Australian newspaper for reporting it. A day later, apparently realising the damage being done to the Greens’ brand, he turned on his NSW colleagues, and dissociated himself from them publicly.
It was, however, months after the anti-Israel policy had been adopted.
However selective and repugnant the NSW Greens’ anti-Israel policy may be, it is just the tip of a very large iceberg — although one needs to delve into the details of the Greens’ policies, and then disentangle the Orwellian language, to work out what they really stand for.
Other aspects of their international policy include bans on visits by “nuclear-armed or powered” naval vessels, an indirect reference to US naval vessels. Adoption of this policy would terminate Australia’s defence arrangements with the US, as happened with New Zealand, when the Lange Labour Government took this step in 1984.
To emphasise the point, the Greens also support ending the ANZUS Treaty, the cornerstone of Australia’s foreign policy.
Their domestic policies are equally dangerous.
The Greens oppose construction of any new dams, but want to ensure “sufficient water for environmental flows”, and support “sustainable food production … and ensur[ing] pricing reflects the real cost of water use”. Taken together, these policies amount to an attack on irrigated agriculture in Australia.
They also want to close down the coal industry, which is a key component of power generation and steel production in Australia and one of the country’s largest export-earners.
In relation to the Gillard Government’s proposed carbon tax and its additional 30 per cent mining tax on coal and iron ore, the Greens’ policy calls for even heavier taxes than those proposed by Labor.
A centrepiece of the Greens’ population policy is the availability of publicly-funded abortion, although it is clothed in the usual euphemisms: “empower women and increase their access to a wide range of safe family-planning options” and “ensure Australian family-planning programs (domestic and overseas) are adequately funded to deliver … reproductive health services that increase the power of women and girls to determine their own reproductive lives”.
Consistent with the party’s policy, in both state and federal parliaments, Green MPs have been in the forefront of the push for legalised abortion, euthanasia and homosexual marriage.
There are many other areas — including health care, education, drugs policy, pornography and industry policy — where the Greens’ policy would, if implemented, destroy the country.
In all these areas, Dr Bob Brown and Lee Rhiannon are on the same wavelength, singing the same tune. These destructive policies need to be the subject of the most searching public debate, so that the Greens’ true agenda is more widely appreciated.
Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.