Bob Brown was recently named as Australia’s most influential person in The Australian and, although not everyone will agree, there is no denying his party’s increasing power.
With the other ‘major’ parties losing public interest amid bickering that produce no real substance on issues of no real concern to the common voter, the Greens’ have managed to avoid the theatrics with a solid and united membership.
While the Government is shaken with leadership speculation and the Opposition fails to offer any tangible policy alternatives, the Greens are consistently adding to the national debate and consistently representative of their constituency.
The implementation of the carbon tax, once the Greens’ primary objective, has now become a minor episode in their rise to prominence. Now they seek to influence politics more broadly with constructive input on everything from dental care to foreign affairs. Perhaps you would expect this given their current political representation, but a party once discounted by the rest has now found itself with profound influence.
With many of the its policies reflected in the work of GetUp!, the Greens’ political message is amplified further. This non-for-profit organisation claim to be independent of any political party, but they subscribe to the same views on as the Greens on many issues; coal seam gases exploration, live cattle exports and the campaign against Gunns. An emerging public attitude is evident with near 600,000 GetUp! members and it seems, the Greens are the only party willing to capitalise on it.
Some might expect their influence to be short lived with the likelihood of another minority Government, and therefore their balance of power, unlikely to be repeated in the 2013 election. But consider what Australia’s political landscape would look like if the electorate awarded them even greater control.
Bob Brown for PM? Maybe not, but an Australian leader from outside the two major party’s doesn’t seem such a ludicrous idea these days. This eventuality might frighten those loyal to the traditional parties, but I for one am intrigued by what this might mean, particularly on issues that would otherwise be disregarded.
There is no doubt there is broad electoral support for same sex marriage but Liberal and Labor remain stubborn in their attitude (although Gillard has begun to pander to the relentless media campaign and her own nuptials with Bob Brown). The Greens are the only party driving change on the issue, and this alone could earn them more seats in 2013.
The impact of the carbon tax will soon be evident and if Abbotts scare campaign turns out toothless, the Greens will enjoy even more political success, perhaps more than Labor will be credited with.
Further, when the rest of the developed world emerges from its financial mess, Australia’s investment in renewable energy technology will increase exports from a newly created industry. In this scenario the Greens could credited with saving Australia’s fledging manufacturing industry.
With Abbott second and Gillard third, The Australian’s top 20 influential rating captures the perverse state of Australian politics at the moment and it seems the Greens are the party benefiting most from the arrangement.
The Greens’ success can largely be attributed to a wide disaffection with the alternative. The party is only 20 years old and can boast five senators, 22 State MPs, 1 Federal MP and 1.6 million votes. If the party continues on this trajectory, Australian politics could look incredibly different in years to come.
And who could argue that would be such a bad thing?
By Sean Mooney