25 October 2020

Greens will need to be pragmatic and get their hands dirty

| Ian Bushnell
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ACT Greens

The ACT Greens celebrate the 2020 ACT election result. Photo: ACT Greens.

The ACT Greens have been on cloud nine for the past week but now it’s time to come down to earth and face the reality of having a role in government and the political grind of the Legislative Assembly.

They passed the first hurdle last week by opting to be in coalition with Labor instead of exerting pressure from the crossbench.

There is much more to be achieved by being inside the tent, as leader Shane Rattenbury has shown.

Part of their electoral success – and they should be careful not to overstate it – stems from Mr Rattenbury’s results-driven, common sense contribution to Cabinet, a record that has given the party valuable credibility.

Outside Cabinet, Caroline Le Couteur also worked hard on legislation and raising key planning and housing issues.

There is no doubt that they have pulled Labor towards clearer policy decisions on transport (light rail) and climate change and energy (renewables) to the point where Labor is reaping the electoral benefits of these popular decisions and making them their own.

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The ACT Greens, unlike their counterparts federally and in other jurisdictions, have middle of the road appeal, and typically in a place like Canberra have attracted talent with the experience to do well in the Assembly.

They have been here before, from 2008 to 2012 when four Greens, including Mr Rattenbury, occupied the crossbench, only to see that electoral support evaporate.

Hare-Clark giveth and taketh away, and can be both generous and cruel. The Greens should remember that overall the party polled roughly 13.5 per cent for their six seats, while the Liberals at 34 per cent have had to settle for just nine.

This time around it appears that the Greens have taken votes off the Liberals, those who may not be happy with Labor but find something in the Greens’ message about planning, the environment and climate change.

This newfound support could easily disappear if the Greens let ideology distract them, forget the spade work and don’t achieve practical results, something the Liberals have failed to learn.

They will need to be pragmatic and be willing to compromise, because 100 per cent of nothing is nothing.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr was quick to remind them that Labor is the very senior partner, especially with 38 per cent of the vote, and that a second minister was not an immediate given.

Mr Barr said he would not want to throw someone in the deep end but that may have been just early positioning.

But the Greens will state their claims to have that extra say in Cabinet, with Rebecca Vassarotti or Emma Davidson capable of doing the job.

Labor is not so flush with talent that they can deny a Green that opportunity, particularly after losing Gordon Ramsay.

In fact, the experienced and proven Mr Rattenbury could well be the new Attorney-General.

The luxury for the Greens this time is having a team that can share portfolios and the work, and make more of a contribution. And that will also mean, for those outside of Cabinet, holding government to account and siding with the Liberals if need be.

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In many respects it’s an extension of an experiment that is peculiarly Canberran because there is no love lost between Labor and the Greens elsewhere in the nation. But it’s a model that others outside the ACT are observing closely.

Its success at an ACT level will be judged on practical outcomes, not symbolic gestures, by an electorate that is savvy and sophisticated but still wants the rubbish picked up on time.

The Parliamentary Agreement to be hammered out should reflect that and set ambitious but realistic goals in housing, getting light rail done, securing the ACT’s energy needs and sorting out the waste management mess.

One thing is certain – it won’t be business as usual for Labor in the Assembly.

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ChrisinTurner5:20 pm 06 Nov 20

I hope the Greens do something about the removal of street trees occurring due to “planning decisions”.

One challenge for the Greens both in the ACT and Australia wide is their views on Australian manufacturing.

The COVID crisis and recent actions by China haveaised awareness on this country’s reliance on overseas manufacturing.

There has been a lot of noise made about restarting the Australian manufacturing industries.

Most likely this will just be noise and very little real action will be taken.


If it does go somewhere, there will probably be an impact on our Greenhouse gas and other pollution emissions.

We have been very happy to outsource our manufacturing pollution to other countries.

Are we willing to take that back onshore?

Where do the Greens stand on this?

Will they be pragmatic and get onboard with increased emissions to help protect us from a belligerent China?

Or will they push a line that environmental considerations override national protection?

The ACT doesn’t have much industry and probably never will, but there may be an opportunity to establish some here.

Where will the Greens stand on this issue?

HiddenDragon8:30 pm 26 Oct 20

Most of what we’ve seen from the ACT Greens in the last few terms of government has been fairly standard stuff from the policy agenda of the international green/left movement – applied, at times, in a cookie-cutter way, with limited real recognition of and adaptation to local circumstances, and backed-up by the standard slogans and talking points. In that respect, they have been a bit like the local franchisees of an international chain of vegan eateries, head-quartered in the Pacific Northwest or northern Europe, with a menu and marketing which is very familiar, wherever in the world you find them.

This term presents an opportunity to move beyond that, and housing may be the most promising area for genuine local policy innovation, given the flexibility available to a government which combines state and municipal responsibilities.

By comparison, extension of light rail is essentially about finding several billions in an already stretched budget with other pressing priorities to meet, and comprehensive renewable energy solutions rely on technological breakthroughs which are always about to happen (and have been for at least the last decade, or so).

Having seen enough evidence despite some contradictions in data and agenda based scientific misconduct, I do have concerns about the environmental impact of industries. The downside of environmental protection is that the business dealings are then given or moved to countries and places that are not as restrictive. That’s an issue that could be thought upon. I believe land, water and environment management are important issues.

It’s a long story for The Greens from the Tasmanian logging protests. What I find that is very concerning about green politics are the inclusion of non-environmental issues or ideologies that have been brought on or imported, such as haphazard open borders that contradict the environment stances, and health and safety stances of Labor and somewhat Liberal too, and self-serving racial and minority identity politics, which have become just as disturbing as the narratives of far parties on the other end of the spectrum, i.e One Nation, that suppress and disrespect the rights and identities of cultural groups, and inadvertently increase discrimination.

Yes, you would think that the Greens would be against all immigration in an attempt to reduce or even reverse our population growth. The less people in Australia the better it is for the environment.

Instead they seem to be determined to let as many people come here as want to.

They should be completely against hunting of endangered species, instead of strongly supporting it.

The Greens seem less about the environment and more about their view of social justice these days.

That doesn’t mean that everything they do is bad, just that perhaps their name no longer represents their goals.

Don’t forget the thinly veiled communism.

huh? the Greens might be many things – but they are certainly not communists!

The future is full of (more) failure and incompetence. Rattenbury has:
– Run the jail since 2012: ACT has the highest rate of recidivism in the nation (by alot); 30% of inmates are prescribed opioids (other states roughly 1%-2%); overcrowding and violence persists.
– Held the Mental Health portfolio since 2016: still not up and running; among lowest access nationally.
– Supported a Barr Govt strip-mining society, with actual public transport (buses) being reduced city-wide, worsening schools performance, worsening hospital performance, 18-month surgery wait times (supposed to be 12-months at a maximum), declining access to medical specialists, lowest level of policing nationally, enormous public housing gap and wait-times…

All these hipster projects in the CBD (bikes, scooters, murals, blah blah blah) are wall-papering over the widening cracks, and the Greens are central to all of it. What’s the old saying? “Democracy gives the people what they want, until they just can’t stand it any more.”

Your points on prison are categorically incorrect. This report from the AIHW shows that the ACT has amongst the lowest rates of opioid use by prisoners in the country: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/prisoners/health-australia-prisoners-2018/data#page4 (Data tables: 17 – Medication – States and Territories). The ACT’s percentage of prisoners on analgesics was substantially lower than all other jurisdictions except Tasmania on 7%. Opioid substitution therapy is substantially higher than all other jurisdictions at 9%.

And on recidivism rates, the ACT isn’t even close to being the highest and is in fact third lowest, 17 percentage points below the highest: https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/statistics/sentencing-trends/released-prisoners-returning-to-prison

you realise the election is over and your side went backwards? do you also realise that you are totally wrong on the prison system, and most of your other comments are so lacking in serious analysis as to be laughable.

michael quirk11:58 am 26 Oct 20

The increase in the Green vote is a result of their genuine commitment, unlike the major parties to address climate change. They pride themselves on basing decisions on science and social justice.

They need to review their policies in the light of changes including lower population and employment growth, increasing debt and improved battery storage technology. In particular they may need to prioritize expenditure between housing, health. community services , bus based public transport and light rail. A commitment to evidence based policy would suggest, in the current economic and social climate, whether light rail delivers enough benefits for it to have a higher priority than other needs including bus-based alternatives including high capacity electric buses on the inter-town public transport route. Such decisions would be assisted by information from the 2021 Census on housing and transport choices.

Capital Retro9:05 am 26 Oct 20

Standby for mandatory tree-hugging, a Tesla in every garage and regular brownouts.

what boring, tiresome nonsense (although a Tesla in every garage would be nice :)).

if you want to hug a tree – feel free if it makes you feel better

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