Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Greens now influencing broad policy , for example on Adani coal project

The Greens believe they have put a difficult year behind them, and are seeing their ‘Cassandra’ foresight picked up by other parties. Saturday Paper,
How the Greens drive policy,
Saturday Paper  Mike Seccombe  , 11 Nov 17, Even in Richard Di Natale’s office they refer to the middle months of 2017 as the “winter of discontent”. It was as bleak a season as the federal Greens party has known.
But there is more than a whiff of spring in the air now, and if a few things go right over the next few weeks, maybe glorious summer. So Di Natale hopes.

……..One example is the giant coalmine proposed by the Indian conglomerate Adani in Queensland. Most Australians don’t want it. A Morgan poll last month showed that among those who had a view – and almost a quarter didn’t – opinion ran against the mine’s development by more than three to one.Says Bob Brown: “That poll showed that supporters of every political party from [Pauline] Hanson and the Nationals, across to the Greens, has a majority opposed to the mine. But the popular mood is not echoed in the big party rooms.

“It’s a classic example of how a small powerful lobby can work wonders with the big parties. It takes a very restive public to change their minds.”

And right now we are seeing that change happen. The Queensland public is very restive on the Adani project and only now, two weeks out from a state election, has the penny dropped within the Labor government of Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Until last Friday, her government supported a proposal for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to loan Adani $1 billion to help build rail infrastructure for the project, on the basis that it would help generate jobs – and harvest votes – in north Queensland.

Then came the announcement that state Labor would no longer support the loan. Palaszczuk offered a convoluted and un-credible rationalisation, based on the claim her political opponents were planning a smear campaign about a conflict of interest involving her partner, Shaun Drabsch, who works for PwC, which is involved with the project.

The near universal view is that the decision was really based on simple electoral calculus: Labor stood to lose more votes than it would hold if it continued to defy public opinion. The Greens, the only party to have consistently opposed Adani, have hopes of picking up several seats in Brisbane.

We’ll soon see how much damage Labor has done to itself, and, more importantly for Di Natale, whether it translates into significant gains for the Greens.

Di Natale sees the Queensland election as one of a couple of “defining moments” in the near future, which will indicate whether the party really has put the winter of discontent behind it.

Another such moment will come even sooner, at next Saturday’s byelection for the inner Melbourne state seat of Northcote. The demographics of the seat favour the Greens, and Daniel Andrews’ Labor government is going all out to hold on. On the policy front, that has entailed a raft of changes, by which Labor has aligned itself with Greens positions……

November 11, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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