What do you think of when you hear the word “Greens”? If you’re a Lib, you’re probably already foaming at the mouth, but too often you hear left-leaning people throw around various buzzwords about how virtuous the Greens are, like how they are “environmentalists”, “progressives”, “tolerant” and “feminists”.
Or maybe you’re drawn to their call of “doing politics differently” and their stance on minorities.
The reality is far different.
The Greens are a party of protest. They are a party of division. And most critically, a party of toxicity. Whatever might draw you to the Greens, here are just a few reasons why they are not all that they are cracked up to be and why you should not waste your vote on them this May.
The Greens’ obsession with a politics of purity is a consistent theme in their continual failure to deliver results.
Look no further than the Greens’ climate policy.
While adversaries on the Right still wrestle with whether climate change is, you know, an actual thing, the Left has (near universally) accepted the realities of climate change. Yet the Greens have repeatedly failed to support passing climate change legislation through a complex Senate crossbench. In late 2009, Australia came tantalisingly close to a national consensus on an emissions trading scheme. Then prime minister Kevin Rudd finalised an agreement with the opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). Even after the Liberal leadership coup led by Tony Abbott, the legislation passed the lower house. So why, in November 2009, (on Tony Abbott’s first day as Liberal leader), did the Greens vote with the Coalition to defeat the CPRS in the Senate?
Not just once, but twice.
With their support, we would now have had the foundations of a strong programme that could be refined in the future. In all likeliness, had the CPRS passed in 2009, an emissions trading scheme would have been in operation and effective before Abbott came to office that same year.
In addition, in 2014, the Greens rejected an increase in the fuel excise, which would have seen an increase in the taxation of fossil fuels, and consequently, a reduction in their usage.
Finally, regardless of your opinion on its effectiveness, the Coalition’s “Direct Action Plan” still directed over two billion dollars to the reduction of CO2 emissions. A pittance compared to the plan outlined by Labor, but a bird in the hand nonetheless. Once again, the Greens rejected the scheme, taking the puritan approach that has done a grave disservice to our environmental realities.
Furthermore, in NSW, it was Greens MP Jamie Parker who voted with the Liberal-National Coalition on the Water NSW Bill 2014 that had a pivotal contribution to the one million dead fish in the Murray-Darling Basin.
So, do not forget that despite their alleged environmentalist stance, the Greens have:
- Rejected an emissions trading scheme
- Stopped a tax increase on fossil fuels
- Opposed a multibillion-dollar carbon reduction program
- Effectively voted for the destruction of the Murray-Darling
Ah, wrong again. The Greens have a long and consistent history of selling-out their progressive base and folding to the interests of the right-wing. In 2015, the Greens sided with the then-Turnbull government to reduce tax transparency requirements that ensured Australians could access the tax information of large companies. The change in threshold from $100 million to $200 million meant that the number of private companies that required transparency fell from 900 to 300, selling out to big-business interests.
What about in 2016, when The Greens voted to pass Senate voting reforms that gave Australia an extra One Nation senator? On Q&A, Pauline Hanson thanked the PM and the optional preferential voting system that got her, and her fellow One Nation senators elected.
After the section 44 debacle, do you know who that Senator was?
Yep, The Greens legitimately helped platform a fascist.
And what of the jewel in the Greens’ crown in Kooyong, celebrated candidate Julian Burnside, who happens to be a self-confessed conservative and Liberal voter? Burnside was a member of the male-only Savage Club, until he succumbed to immense public pressure and quit. During the latest attempt to allow women into the club, Burnside was conspicuously silent, playing no part in the campaign and not attending a meeting of members to decide on the issue, despite claiming he was at the forefront of the debate. When the issue was raised in a Sky News program this year, Burnside responded to criticism from fellow guest Senator Jane Hume by insisting that she “don’t interrupt”. As it turns out, Burnside is also quite the SWERF, posting on Twitter in 2014 that prostitution “affects all women because it affects the way men regard women”. SWERF, or sex worker exclusionary radical feminism, is a subcategory of feminism defined by whorephobia and resentment to the third wave of feminism. Most recently, Burnside was defending comments he made at a meeting of the Medico-Legal Society at the Athenaeum Club, where he argued that some types of female genital mutilation should be legal.
The Greens’ economic policies too are anything but progressive. In 2015, the Greens sided with the Liberal Government to see cut the pension to 330,000 pensioners by changing the pension assets test.
The Greens are also perhaps the only ‘mainstream’ political party yet to realise the realities of our ageing population. Their desire for extreme and radical social change seems at odds with our shrinking tax-base that has an ever-reducing ability to afford it. Many people on both sides of the political divide accept that a market-based mechanism for carbon reduction is still the most effective way to transition towards a green economy. However, this transition needs to occur by slowly increasing the carbon price over time to drive companies towards more sustainable behaviour. Instead, the Greens proposed a high fixed price of $30 per tonne for large industrial emitters, meaning consumers, primarily working-class people, would face the brunt of the passed-on costs.
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson even believes the party can increase its vote through courting small business.
How, you ask?
With a “bigger national discussion” about weekend penalty rates, implying they are outdated. He describes penalty rates as being part of “white Anglo-Saxon cultural” inheritance and irrelevant to modern workers. What does that mean in practice?
Reducing or ending penalty rates.
This concern is compounded by his defence of labour market deregulation as a “more efficient use of existing resources”, completely neglecting the dramatic impact and abhorrent conditions of many working in the collaborative economy. Perhaps Liberal Senator Sean Edwards put it best when he said, “A lot of the stuff I’ve talked to [Whish-Wilson] about privately I’ve found him economically very sound and he would fit quite squarely in the Coalition with a lot of his positions”.
No wonder the Victorian Greens have lost a third of their paid members in the past two years.
Virtue signalling is the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on an issue, something the Greens spend a lot of time doing. You would think, therefore, that they would be tolerant, but again, we need only look to the consistent and repeated anti-Semitic behaviour of many members and representatives of their party to know this is not the case. To contextualise, the most widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
In 2011, the Greens refused to back a Senate motion condemning efforts by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that aimed to bar customers from entering Max Brenner chocolate shops in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. BDS campaigners erroneously believe that targeting a legitimate Israeli business legally trading in Australia is a reasonable means to influence Israeli foreign policy. Whilst criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic, in the last century this has morphed into strong opposition to a Jewish state.
The Greens typically use being anti-Israel to mean being anti the Israeli government, something that is totally legitimate. However, The Greens go beyond being merely anti-Government, which morphs into anti-Zionism and especially anti-Semitism when someone is against the existence of a Jewish state in Israel or against the Jews’ right to self-determination. The Greens have neglected to recognise that being pro-Palestine and pro-Zionism are not mutually exclusive, and that the support of a two-state solution is the support of both states co-existing. The Greens’ decision to support this anti-Semitic group therefore reveals they are not a party of tolerance, but of intolerance.
Furthermore, following the death of former Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Shimon Peres, Greens leader Richard Di Natale unleashed a scathing attack in the Senate that appeared to reveal the Greens’ insensitivity and disdain for the Jewish state. Di Natale’s tirade covered various issues, from Israel’s nuclear defence programme to the alleged ‘settler movement’. Yet he failed to mention Peres’ work engaging Israel with the Arab world or Peres’ support for a two-state solution and could not find any positive words upon the leaders’ passing. He also neglected to mention that, firstly, nuclear technology exists as a failsafe given the near extermination of Jewish people during the Holocaust, and secondly, that Israel suffers countless attacks by Palestinian terrorists on their soil, often sponsored by the terrorist organisation Hamas. Attacking a deceased head of state is an unprecedented move, especially considering Peres’ legacy of peace and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.
As Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas put it, Peres’ death was “a heavy loss for all humanity and for peace in the region”, yet Greens treated it with gracelessness.
Recently, in 2017, the NSW Young Greens told the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) that it is their official policy to boycott Jewish students under a toxic assumption the entire community serves to support the occupation of Palestine. As Former AUJS National Political Affairs Director Ariel Zohar stated:
“This is in line with the far-left trend where hatred for Israel is so strong that it can result in the antisemitic effect where the Jewish community is boycotted for the supposed crime of self-defining its cultural, ethnic and national identity.”
Late last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which, pointedly, leaves open the prospect of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Yet in the Senate when debating this decision, the Greens took it upon themselves to fabricate settlement data and propagate misinformation about Israel, with Senator Mehreen Faruqi declaring that such recognition is “part of a broader pattern of destroying the Palestinian people”. Di Natale has also repeatedly caved to extreme leftist views by failing to endorse Israel as a Jewish state, reflecting the toxicity that permeates his party. As to the so-called “pattern of destruction”, this seems unlikely, considering the Arab population in Jerusalem has grown by 25% since 1967 and constitutes nearly 40% of Jerusalem’s population. On Facebook, recently retired Greens senator Lee Rhiannon declared the announcement was “a further attack on the rights of Palestinians to live in their own country” and used the platform to manipulate data on the Israeli Defence Force.
Just this year, a staffer for Steph Hodgins-May in Macnamara, David Jeffery, stated that deaths in the Gaza Strip were a “genocide” using the hashtags “#FuckFacism” and “#NoPrideInGenocide” on Facebook. This came after Hodgins-May withdrew from a Jewish community debate in 2016 because Zionism Victoria were co-hosting.
The Greens’ candidate rejected calls to remove Jeffery from her campaign.
So much for the Greens’ alleged support of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
“But they’re feminists!”
Wrong again, I’m afraid.
Greens Candidate for Richmond Kathleen Maltzahn acknowledged last year that the party has a problem with their male members denigrating, intimidating and committing violence against women, and that internal processes were insufficient for handling these serious issues. Countless examples in recent years reveal this reality.
For instance, we need only look to the Greens’ defence of their 2018 State Election candidate for Footscray Angus McAlpine, who rapped that “it ain’t nothing to choke a bitch’, “got no class when trying to get some ass, put a rowie [Rohypnol] in your glass and wait for a few minutes to pass” and “date rape drugs in her drink, then have my way”.
At the time, Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam defended him by saying that the lyric was “choke it bitch”, and referred to smoking drugs, not violence against women.
What a meek and shameful excuse.
Another example is the former Greens candidate for Sandringham Dominic Phillips, who stood down after unconfirmed sexual misconduct allegations. Phillips also liked derogatory Facebook pages titled “Period Pains, try waiting for your porn to download,” “Twinkle twinkle little slut, name one guy you haven’t f–ked” and “I’d swim in the ocean for you … LOL jks, id get my turban wet [sic].”
And these problems of misogyny lie deeper.
In the upcoming Federal election, the Greens are only fielding two female candidates in their 12 strongest lower house seats, down from eight women in 2016. Across NSW and Victoria, only a third of Greens candidates are women.
And finally, we cannot forget Greg Barber, the former leader of the Victorian Greens who was accused of calling women “fat, hairy lesbians”, “power pussies” and “hairy-legged feminists” in their workplace. And don’t forget his “men’s room”, an office where women were not welcome unless invited (remember Julian Burnside’s Savage Club anyone?). And then his out-of-court settlement with his former parliamentary adviser Liz Ingham over allegations of sex discrimination and bullying in his office. As Ingham described, “The Greens don’t care what happens to women within the party. What they care about is their public image… It’s only the media that can help crack through the shell of indifference that they have towards women in the party.”
“What about migration?”
The Greens have sided with population growth reactionaries, demonstrating their belief that our infrastructure and cities cannot handle a “Big Australia”. But this is not where the issue lies. Rather, it is six years of a federal Liberal government unwilling to close tax loopholes and invest in fundamental infrastructure that may put us under the illusion that population growth is outstripping our infrastructure. Astonishingly, or perhaps not, the Greens have echoed Tony Abbott’s calls to reduce migration, which would inevitably entail a reduction to humanitarian and skilled migration. This is because, in the context of such statements, it is overall migration that would have to be cut to ensure our population growth is reduced. It is hypocritical to argue that we are overusing our natural resources, but demand more humanitarian migration on the other. A bigger population brings greater use of space and resources, and the Greens should not sit idly on the fence.
And what of our third largest export: higher education? Would international students too be hit by Di Natale’s fear-mongering remarks about population? Whether reductions applied to skilled or humanisation migration, it would be non-white immigrants who would inevitably be hit the hardest, given the large proportion of skilled migrants arriving from Asia and humanitarian migrants coming from the developing world.
Do not forget that due to the catastrophic economic policies of the Liberal government, the only reason we are not in a recession is due to population growth driven by immigration (per-capita recession).
“Yeah well at least they aren’t always fighting like the major parties!”
Well, based on examples from just the NSW and Victorian branches, the scale of toxicity and division within the Greens makes Liberal Party in-fighting look like child’s play.
In NSW, factional in-fighting rages on between the so-called “Watermelons” (the industrial far-left and communists) and the “Tree-tories” (wealthy environmental activists). Last year, now-former NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon (a Watermelon) backed a complaint targeting NSW Upper House member Jeremy Buckingham (a Tree-tory). Tensions boiled over when Greens MP Justin Field attacked colleague Jenny Leong for using parliamentary privilege to lay out a sexual harassment claim against Jeremy Buckingham. Some within the party saw this as an orchestrated attack which aimed to oust Jeremy from the party, as it occurred despite an internal investigation that resulted in “no adverse finding against [Jeremy] with respect to sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour towards [the complainant]”. Shortly after, the party narrowly voted for Buckingham to remove himself from the Greens ticket. Buckingham has since contested the NSW state election as an Independent, stating that the Greens had “abandoned [their] core principles” and instead were focused on more on dismantling capitalism and “divisive identity politics” than climate change action. During a meeting titled “How the Radical Left Wins”, Rhiannon also called upon those present to join the party to influence the upper house ticket or risk preselecting people averse to “transformative change” of “the system” (read: preselecting people that aren’t communists).
The Greens obsession with image is also exemplified in the censuring of six-time Batman candidate Alex Bhathal for “allowing herself to be quoted” in the media last year about her concerns regarding the party. In Batman, an internal campaign against Bhathal saw her lose what many considered the unlosable election after the Liberals decided not to run a candidate. This culminated in Bhathal quitting the Greens this year after 18 years of service, blaming a “brutal (and) sanctimonious” internal culture that killed her electoral hopes. Contrarily, four councillors and 18 members of the Darebin branch brought forward a 101-page dossier on complaints against Bhathal. The paper alleged a wide range of wrongdoings such as intimidation and bullying. Bhathal claims she has never bullied, intimidated or harassed anyone.
It is hard to know who to believe, but what remains clear are the deep divisions within the party.
Nonetheless, voters comprehensively denounced the disgraceful behaviour of the Greens, with talented Labor candidate Ged Kearney retaining the seat of Batman with a 3.4 percent swing. This trend continued at the state election in November, when the Greens lost four of their upper house MPs.
Two of these MPs who lost their seats, Samantha Dunn and Nina Springle, have since quit the party citing a “toxic” culture and “deep-seated cultural issues” respectively.
“OK, but at least they are effective”
Aside from agreeing to support a minority Labor government in 2010, for the most part the Greens generally sit on the sidelines bickering, and, more commonly, claiming Labor’s policy victories as their own. Since their inception, the Greens (not helped by internal divisions) have had 25 years of negligible impact and few policy victories.
For example, NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong promised her election would mean “there will be no WestConnex” road project and that “there is no way WestConnex is coming anywhere near here”.
Did the majority Liberal government in NSW care?
Given that WestConnex is now in stage 3, I don’t think so.
Why Leong made such a strong election commitment without going on to demonstrate any intention or ability to deliver is beyond me. But it once again proves that a party of protest will never achieve what a party of government can.
The reality is simple: the Greens cannot and will not accomplish anything from the crossbenches.
In Victoria, former Greens MP Lidia Thorpe frequently promised to fight the Adani mine during the 2018 state election campaign, a goal she surely knew she would not have the capacity to achieve. The party played a game of identity politics, virtue signalling and ideological grandstanding, and inevitably it backfired, because identity and symbolism do not matter. What matters are strong values and results, something Thorpe fundamentally lacked. In the election, Thorpe was duly rebuked by the good burghers of Northcote and booted out of office, the first time a Greens MP has ever lost their seat.
To conclude, in a world of post-material politics, the reality is that many Greens voters in their inner-city heartland would (and do) vote Liberal when there is no Greens candidate. This core demographic of wealthy and educated professionals can enjoy the moral high-ground of voting Green, but won’t feel the impact of the Liberal government cuts that they are indirectly helping to facilitate. Likewise, the social issues that they are most likely voting on will have zero impact on their material circumstances. In reality, the Greens apparatchik resent the notion that they are “left of Labor”. They realise that such a moniker hampers their efforts to appeal to disaffected small-l liberals and weakens a fundamental tenet of their strategy to target seats like the former Liberal stronghold of Higgins and other blue-ribbon seats nationwide.
So, when you’re at the ballot box this May, think about what you’re truly voting for when you vote for the Greens.
A divided, toxic and ineffectual party dominated by the influence of their rich white eco-Lib base.
By Jan Morgiewicz
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Lot’s Wife or any other group.
Jan Morgiewicz was a former Labor Party candidate in the 2018 Victorian State Election.