There is one area in which the Greens are out in a class of their own – hubris.
The Greens opposed the former Rudd Labor government’s Carbon Pollution Trading Scheme (CPRS) in 2009 and voted it down in parliament.
Later it supported the Gillard Labor government’s carbon price and claimed it only “happened because of the Greens”.
Yet the strange thing is that the two schemes — Rudd’s and Gillard’s — are mostly the same.
In 2009 Greens Senator Christine Milne said: “The Greens oppose the CPRS as it stands not because it is too weak but because it will actually point Australia in the wrong direction with little prospect of turning it around in the timeframe within which emissions must peak. This is why we say it is not just a failure, but it locks in failure.”
They then moved amendments to the legislation in the Senate which included increasing the scheme’s emissions cut target from 5% to 25% and opposing compensation for power generators and free carbon permits to polluters. When the Government rejected the amendments the Greens rejected the bill.
Come the Gillard carbon price, which included none of these amendments, the Greens waved it through.
Needless to say the Abbott Government trashed it all but 2009 reminds one of those if only moments which might have changed the course of the climate wars in Australia.
To give him some credit Adam Bandt does have his moments. His appearance on the front page of the Herald Sun calling out parents in his inner urban electorate for refusing to vaccinate their children and putting at risk his and other children was brave and sensible.
Calling out the nonsense gotcha question at his Press Club address – a question the young journalist had to read out presumably because he didn’t understand it himself – has given added meaning to Google it.
But now he is arguing, because the Greens won 12 Senate seats and four seats in the House of Representatives, that the Greens have a ‘mandate’ for their policies. This looks odd given the Greens got only 14.1% of the national primary vote – a bit more than the combined UAP-Pauline Hanson vote.
It is also hubristic nonsense when it come to claiming one in a Parliament where the Government has a clear majority. As for claiming a mandate on the basis of a having a fifth of the Senate seats it is worth remembering Paul Keating’s comments about the Senate being ‘an unrepresentative swill’ and even Tony Abbott’s ‘feral’ comment
Moreover, the whole concept of ‘mandates’ is a nonsense. It is useful for Oppositions to use when governments introduce things which they had not promised during an election – but seems to assume nothing ever changes as new problems or opportunities arise.
In messy democratic systems where changing circumstances demand new responses Keynes’ famous comment about changing his mind when facts change is perhaps apposite. Equally the other adage – the perfect as the enemy of the good – is also apt when it comes to the Greens’ approach to climate policy.
Adam Bandt has obviously heard of neither or just dismisses the lessons.
On top of all that Adam Bandt has decided to leave the Indigenous flag out for his media conferences but remove the Australian flag. The author is among those who wish the flag would change and the Union Jack get dropped around about the same time as we become a republic.
But it is crazy brave for an Australian politician to address the issue in the way Bandt has.
Nine News reported that during a press conference Bandt refused to stand in front of the national emblem because the symbol is hurtful to First Peoples.
“For many Australians, this flag represents dispossession and the lingering pains of colonisation,” he said, calling for a new flag.
Cue outrage from not only shock jocks and veterans’ organisations. A typical example was Jim Wilson from 2GB who said the move was offensive.
“It is (a stunt). His ego is out of control,” the radio presenter told Today.
“For him or his minder to go and move the Australian flag out of the shot of cameras was highly offensive, insulting.
“We had a Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide resume in Townsville yesterday – men and women who fought under the Australian flag. On the same day, you have this peanut who goes on and removes the Australian flag.
“I find it deeply offensive and not the Australia we want to embrace.
“Have all three flags, but don’t remove the national flag”.
Jim Wilson, of course, is off the mark himself about men and women fighting under the Australian flag as Australian troops have more often in our history fought under flags other than the current one.
Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten said the move only encourages division.
“Antics like this, this virtue signalling saying, ‘I love First Nations People more than anyone else’, is like the crunchy pupper of Australian politics,” he said.
“It turns more people off than turns them on.
“He’s counterproductive to the cause. At the end of the day, Australians want us to try and work together.”
It is unclear whether Shorten, when he refers to a ‘crunchy pupper’ is referring to fitness programs, puppet games or something else altogether. But what is clear is that Bandt has yet again demonstrated his capacity for hubristic behaviour.