Practical people have always been concerned about the health of the world we live in and many of these are farmers, but the more radical environmental movements draw their strength from the inner suburbs, universities, academe, the ABC and most of the media.
Tasmania, with its history of Lake Pedder, the Franklin Dam and Bob Brown, was the birthplace of the Australian Greens, and the environmental movement in Australia was the first in the world to become a political movement when the Australian Greens Party was formally established in 1992.
The Hawke government, aware of the growing influence of the Greens and the Wilderness Society, sought to stake its claim on the "green agenda" and Graham Richardson, the renowned Labor "hit man", was appointed minister for the environment and elevated to cabinet in 1988. Richardson, ever the political animal, was responsible for placing the Daintree Rainforest and surrounding areas on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 and achieving protected status for the Kakadu National Park. A few political commentators unkindly suggested that Richardson was driven by his political motives rather than his concerns for the environment. But his strategy paid off when Labor won a tight federal election in 1990, no doubt due to its stroking of the Australian Democrats and other environmental activists -- the die had been cast for a new direction in Australian politics.
Continuing its stupidity and reinforcing its disconnection from mainstream Australia, the Libs in the federal election in August last year preferenced the Greens' Adam Bandt in the lower house seat of Melbourne, once held by Lindsay Tanner -- giving the Greens their first seat in the House of Representatives and changing the traditional two-party system with their gaining control of the Senate. Years of disillusionment with the sameness and the backbiting of the main parties won Green votes from the young and older inner-city brigades who were attracted by the Greens' concern for animals and the environment. However, they were unaware of the underlying totalitarian values espoused by Bandt in an online Marxist discussion group in 1995 (which can be viewed on the internet).
As the November 2010 Victorian state election loomed, the Liberals were still dithering on the question of preferencing the Greens and the opinion polls were starting to predict the possibility of a hung parliament. Many Liberal Party branch members were becoming alarmed and advised party HQ that if the Greens were preferenced they would not turn up to work on polling day. Ted Baillieu was continuing to be coy on the preference question and found himself in the crosshairs when Jeff Kennett and Peter Costello went public with their calls for the Libs to preference the Greens. Liberals Helen Kroger, Sophie Mirabella and Kevin Andrews declared their firm opposition and in the end were vindicated. One can only guess where Petro Georgiou, Baillieu's close friend and adviser, stood on this crucial issue. There can be no doubt that if the Libs had preferenced the Greens, Labor would still be running Victoria.
A week is a long time in politics and the real world is far removed from that ivory tower in Canberra. Liberal Senator Eric Abetz was reported in The Australian on June 7 calling for Labor and the Coalition to agree to preference the Greens last at the next federal election, quoting the success of the Victorian Libs at their recent election.
In a hard-hitting opinion piece on July 6, Julie Bishop, the deputy leader of the federal opposition, lambasted the Greens mercilessly, concluding that "the Greens' policies are a genuine risk to the peace, security and economic welfare of Australia". On July 7, in the 3AW studio with Neil Mitchell, Kennett recanted somewhat when he took umbrage with the fact the Greens would be given carbon tax briefings ahead of Labor backbenchers.
Many of those who voted for the Greens and now realise that they were duped will just have to cop it sweet. Brown, Christine Milne, Sarah Hanson-Young and Lee Rhiannon have left us in no doubt as to what sort of Australia they envisage: a brave new world where George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four becomes a reality. Are there any silly Liberals still out there who want to preference the Greens?
John Pasquarelli advised Pauline Hanson as an independent in 1996.