In an address to the National Press Club last week, Greens leader Adam Bandt repeatedly stressed that his party’s campaign was aimed at establishing a power-sharing deal with Labor following the elections on 21 may.
Amid a major crisis of the ruling Liberal-National coalition and Labor, there is a real prospect of a minority government or hung parliament as a result of the election. Under these conditions, the whole argument of the Greens is that they hold “the balance of power” in the Senate and potentially in the House of Representatives.
While Bandt peppered his speech with threadbare populist rhetoric, the speech was a call to Labor and the business elite for the Greens to be “responsible” partners in a minority Labor government.
Bandt’s speech, no less than statements by Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was a complete cover-up of the real political issues facing working people and the dangers they face. The unprecedented economic, social and geopolitical crisis of capitalism has not been mentioned.
- Bandt said nothing about the eruption of conflict in Ukraine and open US preparations for direct war with Russia and China. The Greens have applauded the US-NATO proxy dispute over Russia in Ukraine, demanding that Australia impose even tougher sanctions on Moscow.
The Greens have promoted bogus US “human rights” pretenses used for provocations against China, openly backed Washington’s regime change operations in Libya and Syria, and backed an expanded Australian military presence in the Pacific. , which they call “our backyard”. .
- Bandt did not mention the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed an estimated 20 million lives worldwide. Nor did he say a word about the “let it go” policies imposed by Labor and Coalition governments that have resulted in millions of infections and thousands of deaths in Australia over the past four months. This program, profits before health and life, took place without the slightest opposition from the Greens.
- While referring to Australia’s cost of living crisis, Bandt had nothing to say about the worsening global economic turmoil, with inflation around the world pushing hundreds of millions into extremes. poverty.
Bandt’s silence on these issues was a clear signal to big business and Labor that his party would support the program of war and social austerity demanded by the business elite of any party that came to power.
Its exclusion from key international issues was tied to a fairy tale of national exceptionalism. If only the Greens got enough parliamentary seats, it would be possible to adopt ‘progressive’ policies and secure ‘the future of Australian social democracy’. Bandt said nothing about how this would be done in Australia as the global economy sinks further into crisis.
The Greens leader highlighted some of the right-wing moves by Labor and Albanese, including support for sweeping tax cuts for the wealthy, massive corporate subsidies and his refusal to institute crisis-fighting policies climatic.
But that aside, Bandt has repeatedly said the main task is to “drive out the liberals.” He said: “I’m sure Anthony Albanese will be better than the current prime minister.” All it needed was “someone to keep Labor on track”, that is, the Greens.
In reality, the Labor Party seeks to outflank the coalition on the right. On the contrary, it has been more belligerent in its support for US-led aggression against Russia and China. In a blunt speech to the US administration of President Joe Biden, Albanese argues that the Labor Party is best placed to oversee Australia’s ever-deeper integration into the US war machine.
Likewise, Labor presents itself to the corporate and financial elite as a better vehicle to implement sweeping budget cuts and further business-friendly restructuring. It is not the result of Albanese’s personal inclinations, or errors that can be corrected as Bandt has suggested. It expresses the role of Labor for decades as a party of banks and big business with no connection to the working class.
In keeping with its appeals to the corporate elite, Albanese is waging what has been described in the press as a “small, targeted campaign” with only a handful of political ads.
In his press club speech, Bandt effectively aped Albanese, advancing only a few policy demands, which even at face value fell far short of the sweeping “incremental change” he touted.
On the issue of climate change, all Bandt raised was an end to the opening of new coal and gas mines, which does nothing to address Australia’s existing emissions. Under the conditions of the greatest breakdown of the healthcare system, his only proposal was that dental care be added to the publicly funded Medicare program.
Amid a cost of living crisis that is already pushing millions of people over the edge, all Bandt offered was the construction of a million “affordable” homes – over the next two decades – and the cancellation of student debt.
Bandt said nothing about the salary increase. While calling for a “progressive” tax system, all he described was a 6% tax hike on billionaires.
During the question-and-answer period, some journalists underlined the “modest” nature of the political measures. Was the Greens’ only election climate policy an end to new coal and gas mining, it was asked? In response, Bandt highlighted Greens’ calls for net-zero emissions by 2035, but then said the “priority” if the party held the “balance of power” would be to block new mines.
In other words, the various policies listed on the Greens website are a cynical ploy to win popular support, especially from young people concerned about climate change. Bandt and the Greens know that in practice a Labor-Green government will do nothing to address skyrocketing emissions or address other pressing issues facing working people.
This is not a hypothetical question. Bandt held up a series of previous power-sharing arrangements as models to emulate.
Chief among these was the de facto coalition between the Greens and the minority Labor government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard from 2010 to 2013. The only concrete measure of this government to which Bandt could refer was an expansion of dental care for children.
In fact, the Gillard government, backed by the Greens, pursued a program of war abroad and war against the working class at home. This included Australia’s participation in Obama’s deadly ‘push’ of troops into Afghanistan and the country’s alignment with its ‘Asia pivot’, a large-scale military build-up aimed at preparing for war with China.
The Green-backed government has joined the US-led persecution of WikiLeaks publisher and Australian citizen Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and stepping up attacks on refugees.
On the social front, the Gillard government kicked 100,000 single parents off their benefits and put them back on unemployment benefit for the sub-poverty. He implemented cuts to public education and health care, opening them both up to all market forces. On climate change, its carbon tax has been explicitly modeled on a continued increase in carbon emissions for the foreseeable future.
Bandt also praised the Greens’ record in a coalition government with Labor in the state of Tasmania that came to power in 2010. He introduced sweeping cuts to the public sector. Greens Education Minister Nick McKim presided over an attempt to close 20 state schools, a move that was only scrapped due to mass public opposition.
Bandt noted that the Greens are currently part of a coalition with Labor in the Australian Capital Territory. As part of the extra-constitutional National Cabinet, this “stable and efficient” administration has joined in with murderous “re-opening” policies that have led to an increase in COVID infections, illnesses and deaths.
The Greens, in other words, are not an alternative. It is a pro-capitalist party that represents the interests of an affluent upper middle class that rushes to the right on everything from war to austerity and an assault on democratic rights. Far from pressuring Labor to adopt progressive policies, the Greens will not hesitate to back down on their election promises to join a right-wing Labour-led government.
Authorized by Cheryl Crisp for the Socialist Equality Party, Suite 906, 185 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000.