Todayâ€™s Herald Sun splashed with reports of an â€œopen revoltâ€ in the party over their preference dealings with Senator Helen Kroger, a leading light of the Kroger-Ronaldson faction, calling bulldust on Baillieuâ€™s preference plot.
Sheâ€™s written an impassioned â€œop-edâ€ calling on Baillieu not ignore Liberal grassroots on the issue and urging him not to hand the extreme-left party seats in the Victorian Parliament.
It will go off like a bomb today in the Victorian Liberal party as Krogerâ€™s group is really the dominant voice in the partyâ€™s organisation even though Baillieuâ€™s faction still has many people in the parliamentary party. What will also worry senior Liberals both the organisation and the party room is that the nation’s most popular newspaper the Herald Sun has made it clear that it strongly disapproves of (or perhaps is puzzled by) Baillieu’s plan to elect Greens to the lower house of Parliament. They are not an enemy he wants to have in the lead-up to an election.
Baillieu had been hoping that he could slip through the election with the usual amount of scrutiny on preferences (not much) and hope that defending the inner-city would cost Labor plenty of money and brain-space.
Of course the truth is that Laborâ€™s campaign to hold seven inner-city seats (not just Melbourne, Brunswick, Northcote and Richmond but also Footscray, Albert Park and Prahran) is going to keep them very busy anyway, with many spending decisions presumably already made.
So preferencing the Greens party ends up looking like a student-political style mind-f*ck with little to justify it other than the doctrine that â€˜the enemy of my enemy is my friendâ€™.
Itâ€™s hard to predict the Greens erratic behaviour but itâ€™s certainly a big call to say that the Liberals could count on any arrangement with their MPs to put them in power. Many Liberals assume theyâ€™ll just side with Labor as they did in Canberra and Hobart.
LOOK CLOSELY AT THE GREENS
But what is certain is that identifying the Liberals with a brand of politics associated with some very unpopular extreme-left causes like death taxes, soaring electricity and fuel prices, closing the Melbourne zoo, depriving kids of cancer medicine because it was made in a nuclear reactor, putting prostitutes on every street corner and so much more. Follow the links, read the material, while it seems too bizarre to be true, itâ€™s actually just true enough to be bizarre.
As Senator Kroger so eloquently put it today:
The real policy agenda of the Greens goes far beyond saving old-growth forests and protecting frogs and bandicoots.
They are a far-left party, cunningly disguised as tree-huggers. They are actually just old-fashioned statists and anti-development, anti-growth economic Neanderthals who like to dabble in divisive social issues. They are like the old-fashioned Labor Left but without that solid base in reality they have via their ties with trade unions which often produce rounded, practical and sensible people who deal in the real economy and real world. There are a few loons and thugs in that world too, but they are the exception who prove the rule. Even the loopiest unionist has a very different world-view from a perpetually unemployed enviro-activist who doesnâ€™t care about jobs unless it involves a hand-out from some government agency or another, assuming that the money will just keep flowing despite their attacks on the productive economy. Those people â€“ with the help of the Liberal party â€“ are on the verge of holding the balance of power in Victoriaâ€™s Parliament. No wonder many senior Liberals are horrified by the prospect.
This day was always going to come. The farce of Australiaâ€™s premier conservative party and Victoriaâ€™s coalition handing over as many as seven seats in the lower house of Victoriaâ€™s parliament to a party so far left they make Labor look tame and sensible couldnâ€™t proceed without a huge fall-out. And now itâ€™s come at the worst possible time for Liberal leader Ted Baillieu because heâ€™s repeatedly refused to rule out handing the Greens those inner-city seats.
THE GHOSTS MAY BE HEARD AT 104
The party of Bolte and Menzies surely isnâ€™t made for this. They knew who to handle the extreme-left of their time, they shunned them, they attacked them, they put them last on How-To-Votes and Menzies even hoped to imprison them and outlaw the Communist party. (Weâ€™re not suggesting the latter, before correspondents suggest otherwise).
Some say that Labor is the Liberalsâ€™ main opponent and should therefore be put last. But the way parties allocate preferences also says a lot about them, where they stand and what matters to them.
Thatâ€™s why the major parties putting One Nation last made such a big statement. It was an important step in delegitimising the divisive party.
It is now time for both Liberal and Labor to consider the same bold gesture. Labor ought not â€“ must not â€“ preference to the Greens either when thereâ€™s a chance of electing them to the lower house. Ironically, itâ€™s Ted Baillieuâ€™s seat of Hawthorn where that prospect is greatest. Their moral responsibility is the same, to keep the extreme left party from dictating its divisive policies on all of us.
Australia has been well-served by its major parties even if we love to slag them off. With occasional exceptions, they have delivered stable, responsible and unifying government. We donâ€™t have riots here. Even unpopular governments tend not to have their legitimacy questioned by either side of politics because thereâ€™s a respect for the system and a general view that our elected leaders will govern for all not just for those who voted for them.
The Greens party represent a clear and present danger to these things we take for granted.
AUSTRALIAâ€™S MOST DIVISIVE PARTY
They embrace â€“ without hesitation â€“ some of the most divisive and extreme policy positions any party could take.
Never mind Joe Hockey, itâ€™s the Greens who are the economic Hansonites of Australian politics, but itâ€™s their passion to impose radical views on the most sensitive of topics like marriage, euthanasia and other matters where society needs to be led responsibly and respectfully and cautiously that could really tear the social fabric of this country.
People will look back on these strange days and express astonishment that once upon a time the Victorian division of the Liberal party did all it could to elect Greens party MP Adam Bandt, a former Marxist activist (who recently wrote his PhD on Marxist Soviet jurisprudence or some such) who doesnâ€™t seem that former, despite him pledging to vote up a Labor government in the House and immediately upon election began championing every divisive lefty cause stocked at the organic supermarket. Itâ€™s more than just embarrassing for the Liberals to be so closely associated with Bandt, itâ€™s brand-damaging and reputation-destroying. And Helen Kroger, a former party president, is right to recognise it and brave to speak up for an important principle.
EVERY BUBBLE BURSTS
Yes, they are a fad. And a bubble.
But they are not to be underestimated.
The Greens have enjoyed a tremendous lack of scrutiny as their vote has surged in the inner-cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
They even had a federal leadership coup attempt without it being reported for months by the small army of supposedly feisty Press Gallery journalists in Canberra.
And while it was churlish and stupid for the Greens to attempt to hide the coup attempt with a cone of silence over their party roomâ€™s proceedings, it does tell us quite a lot about the kid-gloves treatment they get from many journalists. They are not the main game, Â journos tell themselves, but they are about to have the balance of power in the Senate and helped determine who would govern the nation. In those circumstances, their internal machinations merit the same attention as the other parties get.
The Greens are entitled to their radical views â€“ and even to ditch them cynically under pressure â€“ and to present themselves in a democratic contest. We have no issue with that. We do have an issue with the fraud involved in disguising these extremist views and their loopy candidates as a friendly, naive environmental group when it is in fact a highly cynical, divisive, scheming, manipulative and secretive far-left political party that very much operates in the tradition of the Communist Party. And while theyâ€™re responsible for what they do, our political leaders and journalists and business leaders are responsible for their own reaction to this outrageous phenomenon.
Just when weâ€™d thought it was beginning to look very bleak indeed, this week could be an important one in the history of how mainstream society tackles this radical threat. Itâ€™s too early to say itâ€™s the beginning of the end for the Greens party. But it is the end of the beginning.
UPDATE: After the increasingly eccentric Ted Baillieu ally Jeff Kennett came out swinging, attacking Senator Helen Kroger for expressing mainstream views about the prospect of preferencing the extreme-left Greens party, party President David Kemp has sent out an email attempting to constrain hot-heads like Kennett (who recently claimed he’d been shot at while Premier despite there being no Police records of any such thing):
Members of the Victorian Division are reminded that the decision on preference allocation is a matter for the organisation of the Party in consultation with the parliamentary leadership. This is the long-standing practice.
Any views that members of the Party may have on preference allocation should be communicated through the forums of the party and the usual processes of discussion within the party.
Not surprisingly, the matter of preference allocation in this election is a matter of discussion within the party, and members and candidates have taken the opportunity to communicate their views, both formally and informally.Â This communication is of great assistance to the party leadership in making its decisions, and is encouraged.
It is inappropriate for members of the Victorian Division to engage in public discussion of this matter through the media.
Final decisions will be made in the interests of the people of Victoria.
28th October 2010