The recent attacks by right-wing Labor heavyweights like Sam Dastyari and Joel Fitzgibbon are not based in reality. Their cheap one-liners that Greens voters are not “mainstream” show that they are out of touch with the community.
When the Greens entered into an agreement with Prime Minister Gillard after the 2010 federal election to form minority government, they did so because they care about stable government and about achieving long-term outcomes in Australia’s economic, social and environmental interests that go beyond short-term election cycles.
One of the requirements for the Greens was the formation of a cross-party parliamentary committee to determine climate change policy after consultation with climate scientists and economists and after listening to “the views and ideas of the Australian people”.
The committee determined that the policy had to include a carbon price as a necessary economic reform to reduce carbon pollution by Australia’s largest polluters and to encourage investment in renewable energy and low emissions technologies. The policy also needed to provide a new source of funding for clean energy – this came in the form of the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
It is superior to the scheme proposed by Kevin Rudd which, by locking in pollution reduction far below what scientists and economists say is required, would have necessitated spending taxpayer funds to compensate big polluters!
This major reform will provide a double dividend: an incentive for large polluters to reduce their pollution and a funding source to position our economy for a low carbon future. And it was developed in consultation with scientists, economists and the community.
This is what the majority of Australians want and it is why the number of people voting for the Greens continues to grow.
In recent polls carried out by the Essential Media group it was found that Greens voters are far more likely to support higher taxes on mining profits, a view which is in line with the Henry Tax Review and the Australian Treasury.
When the Greens advocate using some of the profits from the mining boom as a funding source for a fast train linking Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne, they do so to position our economy for the future and with the support of mainstream Australians.
Greens policies like the scrapping of FBT concessions that encourage unnecessary driving of company cars, echo those of the Henry Tax Review. Reforms to our tax system not only work to make society fairer and our economy more efficient, they provide a funding source for better public education and health initiatives like public dental care.
Like the mainstream community, the Greens care about affordable public services.
The Greens advocate for same-sex marriage because discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity breaches fundamental human rights.
When Labor embraced the Howard-style border policing, the Greens stood up for the fundamental human rights of asylum seekers, for Australia’s international legal obligation and for giving asylum seekers a “fair go”. A poll last year showed that 62 per cent of Labor voters supported onshore processing of asylum seekers. The Greens are representing those ‘Labor voter’ values.
The Greens opposed the privatisation of our electricity services – a policy that successive NSW Labor leaders championed in the face of consistent public hostility. We did so with the support of mainstream Australians. This is not an extreme position.
When the Greens advocated for comprehensive, real-time air monitoring around the Port of Newcastle and strengthening the Environment Protection Authority, we did so because we care about reducing pollution and about the health of our community.
When the Greens called on the State Government to reject the proposed Coal Seam Gas drilling through our water aquifer at Fullerton Cove, we did so because we care about the security of the water supply for Newcastle and the lower Hunter.
The Greens continue to call on the State Government to return planning decisions to the local council and local communities because local people should be involved in decisions that affect them.
When the Greens call for Newcastle Council to be more open with the community or to seriously look for opportunities to attract investment in clean energy through the new Clean Energy Finance Corporation, we do so because we care about our community and about positioning our regional economy for the future. This is what Novocastrians want.
At all levels of government, politicians need to listen to the community and work together to develop and implement policies for a better society.