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A coalition with the Greens? Pigs might fly

By John Hargreaves - 23 May 2016 15

fairies 2
There has been a bit of hoo hah in the media lately about the possibility of the ALP or the Libs going into coalition with the Greens to form government in the event of a hung Federal parliament.

It got me to thinking – what a lot of hot air and hyperbole!

Firstly the possibility of a Liberals coalition with the Greens. Not gunna happen. They are already in a marriage with another party – the Nationals – so it doesn’t make sense. To have a three way coalition is a bit like an Antipodean Italian or Weimar parliament. Australia is not ready for a three-way coalition.

The huff and puff of the PM saying that he would never go with the Greens is so predictable that surely, only the Greens would be mad enough to countenance such a possibility.

Can you imagine the Cabinet Room, with Turnbull on one side, Joyce on another and Di Natale on a third? A recipe for atrophy if ever there was one. I reckon the Nationals and the Greens are about as far apart ideologically as anyone could get.

It’s also a bit interesting to hear the PM saying that they’d never go into coalition given that they have been in a coalition since the Menzies days. The Liberal prime ministers have always, in current memory, governed in a minority government made a majority one by a formal coalition with the smaller National party. So saying that they would never compromise themselves is a bit rich.

In fact, the Libs have a fair record of governing with a dependence on a smaller party to outnumber the more popular major party, the ALP. Coalitions in the states are a fairly regular occurrence for them. Check out NT and Qld, NSW and Vic for examples.

The ALP has had a mixed experience in state and territory politics but has never been in a formal or informal agreement with the Greens federally. So the words of the ALP leadership ring true this time.

It should also be remembered that there is a difference between a Coalition and an Accord or an Agreement. Generally a coalition is an ongoing relationship of mutual support and shared spoils. An Accord and/or Agreement is a set of terms agreed by both parties to deliver certain policy outcomes (as described in the accord/agreement) in exchange for certainty in the continuation of governance. Both are in place only for the term of a particular parliament.

The difference between an accord and an agreement is that an accord is a time limited partnership in governance, with shared ministerial appointments and a set of political outcomes. An agreement is merely an agreed set of political outcomes in exchange for budget passage and guaranteed opposition to motions of no confidence.

For those junkies who remember such things, the Tasmanian experience of an Accord between the ALP and the Greens in 1989 was a disaster and resulted in loss of government. The Greens’ demands during those fractious years were so over the top that treading political water was the order of the day. Never again she said! But it did happen in 2010, with much the same result and for much the same reasons.

In the ACT, there was the ALP/Greens Agreement of 2008 in which a set of political outcomes for both sides was agreed and implemented for the most part. It did not require a ministerial position for one of the four Greens MLAs, although one became the Speaker whilst retaining “shadow” portfolio responsibilities and thus Private Members’ Business opportunities. Most strange!

The current agreement between the ALP and the Greens is more of an accord that an agreement, in that ministerial positions were negotiable, but still the partnership is limited to the term of the Assembly. It will happen again and if an agreement is not reached, either the Libs or Labor will need to govern as a minority government with all the trepidation that brings.

In both the 2008-2012 and 2012-2016 terms, governance has been possible through compromise and negotiation – but the sky didn’t fall in. It is possible also, because both the ALP and Greens occupy space on the left of politics and this meant that compromise was possible.

Also, remember that Kate Carnell governed firstly with the tacit (and some would say overt) support of half the crossbench, Osborne and Rugendyke, but when she lost Trevor Kaine to the crossbench and into the anti-government arms, she entered into an agreement with Michael Moore, who gave her his list of demands and held her and Gary Humphries to ransom for the remainder of the Libs’ time in office. This weird arrangement resulted in tears at the next election also.

Any chance of coalition with the Greens and anyone in federal politics is fairies at the bottom of the garden stuff, but then again, that is where Greens HQ is! I would suggest that Di Natale is the only leader in the federal arena who is delusional enough to canvass such a proposition, or maybe he suffers from relevance deprivation syndrome.

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15 Responses to
A coalition with the Greens? Pigs might fly
dungfungus 10:18 am 25 May 16

pajs said :

There are lots of ex pollies writing really interesting stuff & shedding light on what happens in the halls of power ie John Hewson, Mark Latham, Gary Johns & others then we have Mr Hargraves more or less writing propaganda & apologist pieces for the current ACT Government & which don’t shed any light on anything. How about a serious piece on reforming Labor & making it relevant to the average Australians

John Hewson?
You have got to be joking!

dungfungus 8:29 am 25 May 16

Masquara said :

gbates said :

You go to great lengths to explain the differences between accords and agreements etc.
So, where does the MOU with the Canberra unions fit with the ACT Government?
And are you forgetting that the current ACT Government is a minority one? What do you class the support of “The Greens’ Green” in this government, an accord, partnership, coalition or what?
I know you are focusing on Federal issues but you have diverted and mentioned the ACT Carnell government.
Also, I asked you in another thread why were trade unions tax exempt. I would appreciate a response.
PS: I love the image of your own backyard bottom of the garden.

I’m not aware that unions are tax exempt. The current arrangement between Labor and the Greens in the ACT is the same as for 2008-2012. It is an “Agreement “, a list of agreed targets and policy outcomes in exchange for certainty. The LNP Coalition is open ended.

“I’m not aware that unions are tax exempt.”
You are now.
https://www.ato.gov.au/Non-profit/Your-organisation/Do-you-have-to-pay-income-tax-/Types-of-income-tax-exempt-organisations/Employment-organisations/
Anything else you are not aware of?

Affirmative Action M 2:37 pm 24 May 16

There are lots of ex pollies writing really interesting stuff & shedding light on what happens in the halls of power ie John Hewson, Mark Latham, Gary Johns & others then we have Mr Hargraves more or less writing propaganda & apologist pieces for the current ACT Government & which don’t shed any light on anything. How about a serious piece on reforming Labor & making it relevant to the average Australians

Acton 1:53 pm 24 May 16

useandint said :

rommeldog56 said :

You are wrong to say that “the ALP …. has never been in a formal or informal agreement with the Greens federally.”
After the August 2010 election PM Gillard signed a formal agreement with the Greens and secured the support of three independents enabling the ALP Government to form a minority government. The agreement was to allow Greens leader Bob Brown and MP Adam Bandt to meet with Gillard each week while Parliament was sitting to work on the legislative agenda. What a sorry time it was:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillard_Government
And here your mob has sold its soul to form a Rattenbury – Barr – Corbell Green Dream Team. The reason why we’re getting things like the tram foisted upon us is because local Labor and its many hangers on with their fingers in the pie are doing whatever they like with our rates and taxes to stay in power. You want a tram Shane? No problem. You can have a tram. You know what you have to do.
Entering into a coalition with the Greens is like trying to run a school with a wacky student council.

The second half of your post is so vicious and full of bile as to encourage no response to the first half.

Dear oh dear me. I would have thought terms from your OP like, “delusional” and “relevance deprivation syndrome” qualify far more as ‘viscous’ and ‘full of bile’. And an ex-pollie accusing others of hot air and hyperbole? Hah!
Hell hath no fury like a leftie scorned (and refuted).

Mysteryman 10:16 am 24 May 16

useandint said :

rommeldog56 said :

You are wrong to say that “the ALP …. has never been in a formal or informal agreement with the Greens federally.”
After the August 2010 election PM Gillard signed a formal agreement with the Greens and secured the support of three independents enabling the ALP Government to form a minority government. The agreement was to allow Greens leader Bob Brown and MP Adam Bandt to meet with Gillard each week while Parliament was sitting to work on the legislative agenda. What a sorry time it was:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillard_Government
And here your mob has sold its soul to form a Rattenbury – Barr – Corbell Green Dream Team. The reason why we’re getting things like the tram foisted upon us is because local Labor and its many hangers on with their fingers in the pie are doing whatever they like with our rates and taxes to stay in power. You want a tram Shane? No problem. You can have a tram. You know what you have to do.
Entering into a coalition with the Greens is like trying to run a school with a wacky student council.

The second half of your post is so vicious and full of bile as to encourage no response to the first half.

Perhaps you could explain to the rest of us how the second part of his post is any different from a large part of what you write in your articles on Riot-ACT.

John Hargreaves 9:41 am 24 May 16

rommeldog56 said :

You are wrong to say that “the ALP …. has never been in a formal or informal agreement with the Greens federally.”
After the August 2010 election PM Gillard signed a formal agreement with the Greens and secured the support of three independents enabling the ALP Government to form a minority government. The agreement was to allow Greens leader Bob Brown and MP Adam Bandt to meet with Gillard each week while Parliament was sitting to work on the legislative agenda. What a sorry time it was:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillard_Government
And here your mob has sold its soul to form a Rattenbury – Barr – Corbell Green Dream Team. The reason why we’re getting things like the tram foisted upon us is because local Labor and its many hangers on with their fingers in the pie are doing whatever they like with our rates and taxes to stay in power. You want a tram Shane? No problem. You can have a tram. You know what you have to do.
Entering into a coalition with the Greens is like trying to run a school with a wacky student council.

The second half of your post is so vicious and full of bile as to encourage no response to the first half.

John Hargreaves 9:39 am 24 May 16

gbates said :

You go to great lengths to explain the differences between accords and agreements etc.
So, where does the MOU with the Canberra unions fit with the ACT Government?
And are you forgetting that the current ACT Government is a minority one? What do you class the support of “The Greens’ Green” in this government, an accord, partnership, coalition or what?
I know you are focusing on Federal issues but you have diverted and mentioned the ACT Carnell government.
Also, I asked you in another thread why were trade unions tax exempt. I would appreciate a response.
PS: I love the image of your own backyard bottom of the garden.

I’m not aware that unions are tax exempt. The current arrangement between Labor and the Greens in the ACT is the same as for 2008-2012. It is an “Agreement “, a list of agreed targets and policy outcomes in exchange for certainty. The LNP Coalition is open ended.

gazket 11:35 pm 23 May 16

Labor and the Greens sitting in a tree K , I, S, S, I, N, G !

Mordd 10:23 pm 23 May 16

I seem to remember at the last ACT election both Libs and Labour wanting the Greens to form government with them under some agreement or another. So at least at the local level the Libs are perfectly comfortable with the idea, or were anyway.

HiddenDragon 5:37 pm 23 May 16

Greens support for a minority Liberal/National government would very likely have the same longer term effect on their electoral standing as did the Democrats’ support for the GST (albeit with some carve-outs). That’s why federal Labor can say – with a fair degree of plausibility – that it would not enter into a coalition with the Greens, because it wouldn’t need to in order to have Greens support on confidence and supply.

The Liberals had a majority in their own right in the House of Representatives (but not in the Senate) in Malcolm Fraser’s first two terms and John Howard’s first term.

No_Nose 5:13 pm 23 May 16

rommeldog56 said :

“It got me to thinking – what a lot of hot air and hyperbole!”

Um, John, how does one say this tactfully…

If you are bringing John’s comments up with him in a safe and caring environment, perhaps you might like to tactfully mention this one as well! “maybe he suffers from relevance deprivation syndrome.”

Blen_Carmichael 1:15 pm 23 May 16

“It got me to thinking – what a lot of hot air and hyperbole!”

Um, John, how does one say this tactfully…

Acton 11:37 am 23 May 16

You are wrong to say that “the ALP …. has never been in a formal or informal agreement with the Greens federally.”
After the August 2010 election PM Gillard signed a formal agreement with the Greens and secured the support of three independents enabling the ALP Government to form a minority government. The agreement was to allow Greens leader Bob Brown and MP Adam Bandt to meet with Gillard each week while Parliament was sitting to work on the legislative agenda. What a sorry time it was:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillard_Government
And here your mob has sold its soul to form a Rattenbury – Barr – Corbell Green Dream Team. The reason why we’re getting things like the tram foisted upon us is because local Labor and its many hangers on with their fingers in the pie are doing whatever they like with our rates and taxes to stay in power. You want a tram Shane? No problem. You can have a tram. You know what you have to do.
Entering into a coalition with the Greens is like trying to run a school with a wacky student council.

Grail 10:36 am 23 May 16

Faced with the choice of forming government with the Greens (or AMEP, or JLN) versus sitting in opposition, I expect both power-hungry teams to make the necessary sacrifices.

But go ahead and start defining your True Scotsman so you can at least say that what is formed is not a “real” coalition 😀

dungfungus 9:58 am 23 May 16

You go to great lengths to explain the differences between accords and agreements etc.
So, where does the MOU with the Canberra unions fit with the ACT Government?
And are you forgetting that the current ACT Government is a minority one? What do you class the support of “The Greens’ Green” in this government, an accord, partnership, coalition or what?
I know you are focusing on Federal issues but you have diverted and mentioned the ACT Carnell government.
Also, I asked you in another thread why were trade unions tax exempt. I would appreciate a response.
PS: I love the image of your own backyard bottom of the garden.

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