22 August, 2013
TWO-and-a-half weeks to go, but one election result is already in.
The green movement has lost, even if the Greens party survives.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon found that out after the Greens asked him to back them over the Liberals in a preference deal.
“The feedback I got was extraordinary,” Xenophon said at the weekend. “I had several hundred calls saying not to put the Greens above the major parties.” He won’t.
The Liberals have gone further, putting the Greens last on its how-to-vote tickets, with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott calling the party economic vandals.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hasn’t dared do the same, needing Greens preferences to save Labor seats, but he has sworn not to make any power-sharing deal with the Greens as Julia Gillard did before him.
Sure, the Greens party might still get close to its result in the 2010 election, an all-time high of 11.8 per cent of the vote. But polls for months have shown its support around 9 per cent, and if it now lifts it will be because its new bumper sticker causes are about people, not nature.
The Greens party desperately hopes it will attract young voters wanting to make a statement on gay marriage, or Labor supporters angry with the Rudd Government’s harder line on boat people.
Meanwhile, the Greens’ traditional preoccupations with nature expressed by fighting dams and global warming have become as fashionable as MySpace.
Fighting development suddenly seems absurd in tough times, and both the big parties now promise to slash green tape.
All this is in part because fashions change and Earth’s atmosphere actually has failed to warm for 15 years. But it’s also because the Greens in power have now shown something of the price of their dreams.
The great Greens project to turn Tasmania into a nature museum, for instance, has helped give it the worst unemployment, lowest wages and lowest life expectancy of any state.
Still, it took this election campaign to draw a line under the Age of Green, with Labor and Liberal politicians no longer feeling the need to treat the Greens as their uneasy conscience.
The change has been dramatic, and has transformed politics. Rudd barely mentions global warming in campaign rallies.
But last week came just as big a break with Labor’s green past.
On Thursday, Rudd announced a plan heavily borrowed from the Liberals to develop northern Australia.
He’d “build our agricultural industries” there by extending irrigation systems. He’d even consider new dams. You might say “of course”, but four years ago, Labor tried to make sure this would never happen.
The Rudd government back then stacked a Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce with people largely drawn from Aboriginal land rights groups, or with ties to green and global-warming bodies.
And big surprise Labor got exactly the report you’d expect.
The north, the Government announced, “will not be the food bowl for the world”.
Its report said just 60,000ha across our vast north should be opened for agriculture because more farms and dams would just “damage” rivers and the land around.
Besides, global warming was making “the north hotter and largely drier” anyway.
That was just four years ago.
Today, Labor is promising to do the exact opposite: irrigate and farm the north, using water from dams.
Suddenly, even Labor is starting to put people before “nature”, reason before faith, and not a moment too soon.
We’ll save billions, now the great green movement has lost the election.
Courtesy of Townsville Bulletin.
TYSON CATTLE 552 words 22 August 2013 Farm Weekly Copyright 2013 Fairfax Media Publications Pty Limited. http://fw.farmonline.com.au. Not available for redistribution.
22 August, 2013