My mate’s advice was to “keep throwing those lines out there and eventually you will catch something”.
He was right.
Mr Fitzgibbon keeps throwing out these “lines” against the Greens that I would like people to take a closer look at.
It’s too late for many because they have already been hooked, but I would still like to sort through some of his self-generated verbal berley.
Firstly, he tells us that the Greens are negative and say “no” to everything.
I don’t know where he’s been in the past two years, but his minority government keeps telling us they have passed hundreds of new laws and generated some great policy achievements.
How did they achieve that? Because the Greens said “yes” to his government’s policies.
We will always say “yes” to good public policy, policies that benefit the nation.
However I do take his point that we sometimes say no. Let me see, it’s no to coal seam gas, no to financial cuts forcing single mothers to live on $35 a day, no to a war in Iraq and no to offshore processing for asylum seekers.
I also note that Mr Fitzgibbon says no sometimes to policies such as marriage equality and the right to die with dignity.
Polls show these issues have the support of the majority of Australians.
Another of Mr Fitzgibbon’s “lines” is to call the Greens “extremists”. Let’s just take a look at a few of our representatives in the houses of parliament.
We have one merchant banker, several school teachers, some lawyers and doctors and a barrister.
Former leader Bob Brown was also a GP. I don’t believe these people are “extremists”, well; I am a bit worried about the merchant banker.
One reason I joined the Greens is because, simply, I am an ordinary person, disillusioned with the politics of the old parties.
I offer an open invitation to Mr Fitzgibbon to come along to a Maitland Greens meeting and meet us “extremists”. I reckon he’ll find a group of ordinary people worried about the environment and the future for our children.
I do take Mr Fitzgibbon’s point about the coal industry.
He uses the emotive word “destruction”. As far as I know, our policy is still “no new mines”, which of course puts an end to the coal industry.
However, if he likes to use the word “destruction” how about he looks at some of the small communities hit by the big coal companies, especially in the Upper Hunter.
The destruction includes people’s lives, their health, their dream home property values and the destruction of good farmland.
He assures us that vineyards, farms, and the thoroughbred racehorse industry are “thriving” right next door to open cut mines.
He obviously hasn’t spoken to many farmers and vignerons lately.
This whole argument started from Mr Fitzgibbon’s New Year Resolution “to be less tolerant of minority groups which threaten our local economy”.
It is ironic the article appeared next to the online comment section where the subject was a government decision to cut allowances to single mothers (one move I am happy to say that the Greens said “no” to) and his colleague suggesting she could live on $35 a day.
In his response to my letter calling for more tolerance he says he believes “too much tolerance can lead to neglect”.
However, I do commend Mr Fitzgibbon for his comment that he hopes he can give a “leg-up” for some minority groups that will be doing it tough this year.
I respect Mr Fitzgibbon’s position as a senior member of the Labor government and a former minister.
I also respect that his opinions were only critical of Greens generally and Greens policy.
I do not wish to attack Mr Fitzgibbon personally, but, just as he has done, I am standing up for what I believe in.
John Brown: Convener of the Maitland Greens