I’m Just A Soul Whose Intentions Are Good: Gillard

HOT on the heels of a month of scandal and incompetence by the Gillard government, Julia Gillard appears to be embarking on the latest relaunch of her image; claiming to be “misunderstood” by the media, Gillard is now spruiking her “core personal values.”

Julia Gillard has made many attempts — all of them pathetic — to craft a “new” image for herself in the not-quite three years since she became Prime Minister.

We’ve had Julia, the saviour of a good government which had lost its way; we’ve had the “real” Julia; we’ve had the Julia who “gets things done;” we’ve had Julia, the pitiable victim of “misogyny” — none of them convincing, and all of them additional nails in the political coffin into which her performance as Prime Minister has boxed her.

Now — according to an article appearing today in the Murdoch press — Gillard has made an unmistakable pitch to be recognised as a “values” Prime Minister, rattling on about such things as her love of country, of family, and “fairness” in her regular spot on ABC radio.

And of course, she often feels misunderstood.

(This one’s for you then, PM; I invite readers to listen whilst they read, too).

I’m not going to dignify this latest dismal attempt at reinvention with any more column space than required to make the point; with all these image changes, this latest venture by Gillard will be outdated before the next sad little rebadge occurs.

But it gives credence to the question asked of her during the 2010 election campaign, when she first promised to introduce the “real” Julia to voters: if we hadn’t seen the “real” Gillard to that point, who was it we’d been witnessing?

With the benefit of hindsight and the superseding effect of many more attempted transmogrifications in the years since, a more relevant question would be why anyone should take this latest Julia any more seriously — if at all.

No doubt I’m a misogynist for even drawing attention to this, but there it is.

Fond of Margaret Thatcher as I am (and loathe to draw any comparisons with her, other than those which paint Gillard in the poorest possible light) I would simply observe that Mrs T never carried on with any of the crap Gillard does.

Mrs T — becoming PM in the UK in 1979, some 31 years before Gillard did here — was up against an awful lot more than Gillard has ever been.

Margaret never squawked; indeed, she got on with her job (really got on with it, rather than talking about getting on with it), which by virtue of her Labour predecessors was also a hell of a lot tougher than anything Gillard and her incompetent rabble have had to face.

Maybe “values Julia” is just the latest in an appalling series of very bad smokescreens to hide the fact she is an incompetent Prime Minister, a poor politician, and leading a reviled government to boot.

Oh, and in case any wags should think differently if viewing the YouTube clip I posted to go with this article, I had no particular “Bill” in mind.

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Labor Leadership: Kevin Rudd Is Not The Answer

AS reality belatedly dawns on the ALP caucus that Julia Gillard’s ongoing tenure as Prime Minister is unviable — with electoral annihilation looming — Labor MPs seem to be seriously reconsidering their party’s leadership. One candidate they should avoid at all costs is former PM Kevin Rudd.

If there’s one thing I should be clear about — wearing my hat as a conservative — it is that the best interests of the Liberal Party would be served in the continuation of Gillard in her present role until polling day in September; the electoral carnage would be unprecedented.

That said, I should be equally emphatic — if speaking objectively — that if the ALP seeks to record the unlikeliest of wins in September, or to narrow the margin of loss to position itself for a serious attempt to regain government in 2016, Rudd’s name should be the furthest from its deliberations.

Yet the “modern” Labor way is to respond to the prospect of heavy electoral defeat with a change in the parliamentary leadership; just look at its own NSW precedent, where no fewer than four Labor premiers held office in just six years.

And NSW Labor — unlike its federal counterparts — did not have the spectacle of a knifed first-term Prime Minister who had led the party to government after four terms in opposition to justify the revolving door mentality that marked its approach to its leadership.

It is certainly true that a leadership change can be an electoral panacea; Paul Keating and his win in 1993 are evidence of it; some would argue (I don’t, unless referring to a change that might have been made in early 2006) that Peter Costello and the absence of a change also illustrate the same point in relation to the previous Liberal administration.

There are many reasons why Kevin Rudd should not be restored to the Prime Ministership in advance of the looming federal election, and I will examine these in some detail; however, I would observe at the outset that in terms of political smarts as a strategist and tactician, he isn’t a patch on the likes of Paul Keating.

And he certainly isn’t the “messiah” he and supporters portray him as.

It has been argued — not least by those responsible for acting as executioners in the night against Rudd in June 2010 — that alleged acts of treachery, disloyalty and sabotage by the former PM (especially during the last election campaign) should not be rewarded with his restoration to the Labor leadership.

On one level I tend to agree, but on another altogether, could anyone blame Rudd if he really was guilty of all he was accused of doing to derail Gillard’s election campaign?

After all, the accusations against him are hypocritical at best, given the brutal nature of his ousting in a snap coup; in any case, it takes two to tango, not that two wrongs make a right.

But now he’s gone, and — irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the matter — it’s best Labor’s arrangements remain that way; I have said before that the best thing Rudd can do for his party is to leave Parliament; whether the ALP wins or loses, it’s better off without him.

And if it loses — and loses badly — under Gillard, can anybody seriously envisage Rudd as opposition leader for two to three terms, waiting to lead Labor back to office? Such a prospect simply beggars belief.

The first really big strike against a Rudd return now, though, is Rudd himself, and the history of the government he led; shambolic at best and downright incompetent at worst, the Rudd government was no template for efficient, effective governance, nor for any degree of soundness in public administration.

To some extent, Rudd was Labor’s earliest perpetrator of the “say anything to get elected, then do the opposite” disease that has so cruelled Gillard’s Prime Ministership; for example, the solemn hand-on-heart pledges in opposition to be “a fiscal conservative,” when the reality manifested in the worst forms of unreconstructed Keynesianism.

It’s universally accepted that Rudd’s work habits were difficult for his colleagues and staff to tolerate, to say the least; stories of the obsessive, workaholic PM abound of him routinely turning in 20 hour days, phoning up cabinet ministers and advisers at all hours of the night, and insisting they keep to his manic and incomprehensible schedule.

(He is also reputed to be an arrogant bully with an apocalyptic temper, a short fuse, a long memory, and an unrivalled capacity to both hold and follow through on grudges…I digress).

In the shadow of all this “work” and incinerated midnight oil, there isn’t too much to show for the Prime Ministership of Kevin Rudd; the tidal wave of human tragedy that is the asylum seeker/people smuggler issue resumed on his watch, of course, and ¬†economic stimulus action in the face of the so-called GFC resulted in tens of billions of borrowed taxpayer dollars pissed liberally up against a post — to say nothing of structural revenue problems the continuing government has nary a clue how to fix.

Let’s not forget that both the mining tax and the carbon tax — in different formats perhaps, but still essentially the same policies — were both original sins of Kevin.

I could continue with a great long list, but the ultimate question is a very simple one: who would back up for more of the same under a resuscitated Rudd?

To anyone who wants to rattle on about Rudd’s great and enduring popularity, or point to opinion polls showing him overwhelmingly preferred as Labor leader instead of Gillard, I have but two words.

Spare me!

I have opined repeatedly over the past year about the dangers of allegedly indicative polls showing a hypothetical replacement for a party leader being x more popular/preferred/likely to win an election than the existing one.

Such polls have two main flaws: one, they don’t reflect reality, which means respondents can literally say whatever they like; and two, there’s no guarantee the hypothetical replacement would perform satisfactorily if given the leadership — even if, as in Rudd’s case, they had held the position previously.

The example I have used from time to time is that of Andrew Peacock and the Liberal leadership feud with John Howard in the 1980s; Peacock was well-liked but an ineffectual opposition leader, who scored some kudos by winning back half a dozen seats against Bob Hawke in 1984 when conventional wisdom suggested the Coalition would be slaughtered.

Peacock lost his leadership to Howard in unusual circumstances the following year and, almost instantly, the whispering against Howard began.

Ultimately, in a snap coup in May 1989, Peacock reclaimed the Liberal leadership. But it was Howard (once dubbed “Mr 18%”, a reference to his approval rating) who ultimately triumphed, becoming a long-serving and well-respected Prime Minister, whilst Peacock went on to lose an unloseable election to Hawke in 1990 that finished him politically.

The point? Almost from the minute Howard replaced Peacock in 1985, polls very similar to those purporting to show Rudd preferred over Gillard by a 2:1 margin began to appear; by the time Peacock finally returned in 1989, their message was irresistible to Liberal MPs.

But Peacock went into the booth on polling day with an approval rating of 21%, a preferred PM rating even lower, trailing Hawke in the polls, and weighed down by the residual baggage of his coup plotters’ appearance on the ABC’s Four Corners program, four days after knifing Howard, to brag about their exploits.

Make no mistake: a restored Rudd would also carry baggage — most likely in the shape of recriminations against those with their fingerprints all over his demise as Prime Minister three years ago.

Rudd is a fractious and vindictive character; just ask any civil servant in Queensland who fell out with him in the 1990s, when he effectively ran the public service under former Premier Wayne Goss.

It’s one of the reasons so many serving ministers have made it known they would refuse to serve again under him; Nicola Roxon has already (and thankfully) removed herself from Cabinet, but a raft of others — Wayne Swan, Stephen Conroy, Tanya Plibersek and more — have made it abundantly clear that working with Kevin Rudd is not going to happen.

Indeed — among the wider ALP caucus — many would prefer to risk the loss of their seats and/or opposition than again serve Kevin Rudd.

Three MPs caused a stir last year when it was revealed they had threatened to immediately quit Parliament, causing by-elections, were Rudd to be restored; Victorian Darren Cheeseman in Corangamite (Labor’s most marginal seat) and Queenslander Graham Perrett in Moreton (another knife-edge marginal) were identified as two of the three; the third was never conclusively identified but has been widely speculated to be the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

Such a move — likely, in my view — would immediately plunge a restored Rudd government into even more turmoil than currently afflicts the ALP; even if one accepts Rudd is legitimately popular in an electoral sense — and I don’t — it must be remembered that Australians have had a gutful of turmoil and instability and crisis in government.

So reviled is Rudd, in other words, that the government is likely to simply disintegrate around him; and far from an immediate election to capitalise on his “popularity” being a masterstroke, it’s more likely to exacerbate the defeat, given Australians have for decades punished institutionalised disunity in political parties at the ballot box.

It brings me to another risk Rudd would face if restored to the Prime Ministership: the “Queensland factor.”

Something many of us on the conservative side of politics remain incensed about — six years on — was the failure of sections of the press to apply the blowtorch to Rudd on the basis of his time running the public service in Queensland: so keen were they to finally be rid of the detested Howard, many journalists were only too pleased to allow Rudd an easy passage through 2007 to the election and the Prime Ministership.

I discussed this with a very senior Liberal frontbencher some months before the 2007 election; it was a source of great frustration to us both. “There’s a rich seam of shit on Rudd (in Queensland) to mine,” were my exact words. “We can’t. Nobody is interested in publishing any of it. We’ve been trying for months,” came the response.

I tend to think the left-leaning press pack — far more loyal to Gillard than they ever were to Rudd — would have a great deal of trouble motivating themselves to repeat the favour.

And Rudd, despite the persona portrayed in public, isn’t a very nice fellow, to put it mildly — a reality all too well-known by his parliamentary colleagues.

For any reader digesting that statement in disbelief — just like the millions of ordinary folk who only know of politics what they see on the news — I can only suggest you do a little further digging if you don’t believe it.

Or ring the offices of some of Julia Gillard’s staunchest adherents, who’ll no doubt fill in the blanks for you (their public character assessments of Rudd, ironically, are one instance in which every word uttered should not only be believed, but be regarded as a colossal understatement of the facts of the matter).

In summary, Rudd’s popularity — if it even exists in a form to generate votes at a polling booth rather than a hypothetical opinion poll — is illusory, and unlikely to last.

Certainly, Rudd wouldn’t make it as far as September without Tony Abbott tearing him apart: the Coalition might not have bested Rudd in the polls by the time he was deposed, but after six months in the Liberal leadership at the time Abbott had destroyed the huge ALP poll lead, Rudd’s approval rating, was closing in as preferred PM, and had all the momentum.

And were Rudd to bolt to an immediate election for the House of Representatives only, necessitating an expensive and unwanted half-Senate election before July 2014, the Coalition campaign against the tactic would be savage enough (and rightly so) to ensure a sizeable Labor defeat.

It brings me to a few other reasons Rudd isn’t a feasible choice to replace Gillard.

For one thing, he’s insecurely seated; his seat of Griffith might look safe enough with an 8.5% margin, but it has been won by the Liberal Party (often for multiple terms) whenever a big conservative election win occurs — most recently in 1996, when Rudd was beaten by former Brisbane City Councillor Graeme McDougall, and in 1966, when prominent Liberal Don Cameron held it for 11 years.

There were plenty of earlier occasions.

The anecdotal evidence suggests Queensland voters are smart enough to see through the ruse of Labor’s attempt to portray Campbell Newman as a reason to vote Labor federally; there appears to be a further substantial swing against the ALP brewing in Queensland to build on the one recorded last time, and if that happens, Rudd could be gone anyway.

And for another, it’s a little rich to even expect Rudd to accept the leadership in the circumstances. If readers accept my arguments, Labor will lose anyway, and lose badly; having been torn down by Gillard in the first place, I would expect that even his (colossal) ego would be insufficient to stop him recognising that fundamental political reality.

Why would he let her off the hook for her own share of the blame for the loss?

Then again, it is Kevin Rudd we’re talking about here, after all.

Yet if Rudd were to regain the Labor leadership, somehow hold the party together, fight an election campaign of at least five weeks and ultimately win re-election, nobody — nobody — could have the slightest confidence that having used and exploited Rudd, his party wouldn’t simply discard him a second time and replace him with another candidate beholden to its union base: probably Bill Shorten.

Of course, the entire discussion could be academic: it is likely that the electorate has had a gutful of the Labor Party, and of this government especially; that its exit papers really are already stamped — and that it won’t matter a can of beans who leads it to the slaughter in September, or at some point sooner which it believes offers a better prospect of winning.

But when the ALP is cornered, it tries something; it might not work, but it tries. And right now, Labor is cornered.

It’s one more reason the ALP — if it knifes Gillard — should opt for a candidate other than Rudd; if the decimation is going to occur anyway, choosing a leader at such risk of losing his seat would be the cherry on top of the icing on the cake for Tony Abbott and the Liberals.

Just ask John Howard.

Gillard In The Woods: Newspoll Barely Moves, Essential Blows Out To Libs

PERHAPS the most eagerly awaited Newspoll in years is out, showing Labor recovering a point to trail the Coalition 45-55; Essential, by contrast, has the Coalition gaining two points to lead 56-44. It leaves Julia Gillard weakened, wounded, and hostage to faceless factional warlords within the ALP.

Newspoll, for¬†The Australian¬†— the poll our pollies like to watch — sees both Labor and the Coalition dropping a point, to 31% and 47% respectively from its last survey three weeks ago; Essential, with its rolling weekly survey, sees the Coalition up two points on this measure to 49%, with Labor down one to 34%, and the Greens and “Others” unchanged on 9% and 8% respectively.

A lot has been made in all sections of the media this week — to say nothing of discussion in political circles — of the importance of tonight’s Newspoll in terms of Gillard’s tenure as Prime Minister and, more specifically, about her vulnerability to a change in the leadership arrangements of the ALP.

I tend to think that if the PM was dead/dying in her leadership half an hour before the poll was released, she still is; after all, the movements picked up by Newspoll are minuscule and at the very low end of its margin of error.

More to the point, Nielsen and Essential have both recorded additional movement away from the Labor Party in the past fortnight, with Galaxy maintaining a 54-46 trend to the Coalition; it’s fairly clear that not only is the Newspoll result close to the actual current state of voting intention, but that those intentions are well-settled and reflected across all of the more reputable opinion polls.

In terms of any movement in the Greens’ vote following its termination of a formal alliance with Labor, it has picked up two points in Newspoll, to 11% — equivalent to its vote at the 2010 election — which will doubtless see the likes of Christine Milne congratulating themselves on a “brilliant” strategy executed in time to feed into this poll.

Even so, the Labor gain in this Newspoll after preferences is entirely due to a clawback of that primary vote lost to the Greens, and any “gain” off the back of it seems generous.

This is, to be sure, another dreadful result for Labor, and for Gillard herself; Newspoll might show a slight gain on the two-party measure, but the fact remains that the ALP primary vote has continued to go backwards, and from a low base to begin with.

And again — to reiterate — Essential actually has voter sentiment headed the other way, with the Coalition widening its lead.

On questions of leadership approval, Newspoll continues its slow but unmistakable recent trend of Gillard’s numbers crashing toward their historic lows, and of Tony Abbott’s inching back toward acceptability now the smoke from Gillard’s “misogyny” stunt has cleared.

It finds Abbott’s job approval static at 33%, with disapproval inching down a point to 55%; Gillard, on the other hand, is now found by Newspoll to be more unpopular than Abbott, with her approval rating slipping six points to 30% and her disapproval rating climbing by the same amount, to 58%.

And on the “preferred PM” measure, Gillard has now ceded her advantage on this count to Abbott as well, dropping five points to 36%, with Abbott up a point to 40% and now leading ¬†again on what many advisers believe to be the most important polling indicator after the two-party preferred vote.

To be fair to Gillard, I don’t agree with the notion that a single opinion poll should be the harbinger of her political termination, although that has, of course, happened enough times previously to other leaders of varying political stripes.

(And of course — with my conservative hat on — I would be very pleased indeed to see her lead Labor into the election, and extremely interested in her concession speech on 14 September).

But as I have opined previously, it’s the Labor way; and right now, the ruthless Labor way is to find a leader who (it thinks) can win an election.

It is, therefore, unlikely that either of tonight’s polls will do anything to stop the murmuring and machinations presently underway within the ALP about how and when to effect a leadership change, and to whom.

I will update this article overnight to reflect more complete details from Newspoll as they come to hand, but — to be honest — the hype over this poll has turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax; a non-event.

Even so — lest anyone doubt it — Gillard remains in the woods tonight; marooned in limbo, whilst the proverbial mutterers mutter, and the faceless warlords decide what to do with their knives: to sheath them, polish them, or to wield them ruthlessly, ready to strike.

NSW Newspoll: 60-40 To O’Farrell; Food For Thought

JUST to add some spice to things — and to the wait for tomorrow night’s Newspoll — we have a NSW poll showing the O’Farrell government holding its 20 point lead after preferences; in a state set to haemorrhage seats to the federal Coalition, this is an ominous portent for the Gillard government.

In the most populous state in the country, with virtually a third of all seats in federal Parliament, a big loss of seats in NSW will signal the death knell of the present Labor government; a big loss of seats, however, is precisely what seems to be on the cards.

At the state level, Barry O’Farrell’s government continues to retain almost all of the support it recorded when elected two years ago, leading Labor 46-27 on primary votes, and by 60-40 when (optional) preferences are taken into account.

On the “preferred Premier” measure, it is fairly clear the ALP would be looking for a new leader (if it had, broadly speaking, any MPs); on this measure O’Farrell leads opposition leader John Robertson 48-19, which in effect means that the “undecided” vote is nearly twice as popular as Robertson is himself.

It’s pretty clear these sorts of numbers are being fuelled to some extent by the daily circus/freak show/horror story that is ICAC; the daily hearings into the activities of allegedly corrupt former Labor ministers is feeding an incessant stream of toxic headlines into the Sydney media, and with them passes Labor’s election hopes in NSW for perhaps at least another ten years.

Even so, O’Farrell’s is yet another conservative state government that has been subjected to vicious smear campaigns by the ALP, its operatives and associates; its poll numbers staggered initially before righting themselves to some extent last year, to the point O’Farrell’s huge majority would stay almost intact at a new election based on these figures.

It’s important to Gillard because just as she and her cronies are desperately searching for (and inventing) anything they believe will provide a circuit breaker in the run to this year’s federal election, NSW is probably going to be one of the areas more resistant to their efforts — despite being run at the state level by the Liberal Party for two years.

For starters, it’s Tony Abbott’s home state, where he holds an extremely safe North Shore electorate and has done for 20 years; I don’t think Labor’s fabricated “dirt” on Abbott holds much credibility at the best of times, but on his own home turf in Sydney, even less so.

Labor in recent years has relied on unpopular state Liberal regimes as a buttress to its federal strategies, and vice versa; where the regimes fail to offer fodder in this regard the ALP is only too happy to set its creative minds to work.

But in this instance, it’s arguable O’Farrell’s government hasn’t even lost any skin at all since its election in March 2011, such is its resilience in latest polling.

And far from offering fertile ground to create something of their own, Labor’s ongoing humiliation at ICAC — as senior former members of its ranks are hauled into the dock and interrogated — merely fills the arsenal of its opponents, and renders any “interesting material” it might come up with a commodity best left well away from the cold light of day.

Politics being what it is — and I’m thinking here of segues, symbols and allusions — the ICAC hearings also cast a nice pall over a myriad of allegations, pending or actively in progress, against several prominent figures in the federal ALP and/or persons very close to them.

All this comes as the Murdoch press last week ran a story on the ALP’s planned sandbagging operations for the coming federal poll; the problem here is that NSW was effectively subjected to the so-called sandbag in 2010, and the accelerating movement away from Labor in the Premier State since then has been rocketing.

There are at least a dozen Labor-held federal seats in NSW that are at serious risk of falling to the Coalition at the federal election later this year; these alone are enough to deliver Tony Abbott government with an 18-seat majority if the rest of Australia simply returns the same results as last time — and clearly, that isn’t going to happen.

I’m on the record as suggesting the Gillard government is terminal — unsalvageable — and whichever way you cut it, the Labor Party across Australia is a pitiful mess.

Even so, if you’re a political leader seemingly on a hiding to nothing, there are bad polls and then there are really bad polls.

“Everyone” is waiting to see what Newspoll reveals of federal voting intentions in 24 hours’ time, and I’m waiting for it too; but it’s surveys like this one that are occasionally missed.

The state Liberals in WA are recording numbers every bit as good as these two weeks out from a state election in which they may well bury Labor for a generation: those poll numbers, in a traditionally conservative state leaning in its preferred direction, are largely insignificant in the wider context.

This NSW Newspoll, however, probably offers a glimpse of what tomorrow night’s federal poll will show.

Either way, it almost certainly indicates NSW — federally — will be an absolute bloodbath for the Labor Party; should that eventuality come to pass, it’ll mean a hell of a lot of extra seats for Gillard to win, in hostile territory elsewhere, to offset it.

A Red And Blue Baby…

JUST a quick post tonight: a few days ago, I hinted in an article that our second child was due to be born; seeing I raised it, and rather than leaving readers hanging, I’m delighted to confirm that there’s a little boy who has joined our clan.

My apologies to readers for the delay, but in the circumstances I think most would understand — our second child, Angus, was born shortly before midnight on Thursday (21 February); a healthy little bundle at 7lb 7oz, with mum also doing well.

I will be back either late tonight or tomorrow with the article on Labor leadership I have been promising all week; it’s actually half-written (but again, I trust readers understand that the delays, substantially, have been due to circumstances beyond my control — notwithstanding events also intervened once or twice).

So there it is; back to “normal” in the next day or so.

Until then…

Former Queensland Premier To Undergo Brain Surgery

Unpleasant news this evening; former Queensland Premier Wayne Goss will undergo surgery early next week to remove a malignant brain tumour; it is Goss’ third such operation in 16 years, and The Red And The Blue¬†wishes him the best.

Goss, of course, was Labor’s breakthrough Premier in Queensland: coming to power in a landslide in 1989, his government ended 32 years of conservative rule in the Sunshine State; whilst his government ended many aspects of that state’s anachronistic and sometimes corrupt practices in politics, police work¬†and business, the reality of the Goss government never fully lived up to the accompanying hype.

Goss’ government fell from office in early 1996 after a supplementary election in the seat of Mundingburra — the result in which from the previous year’s general election was invalidated by the Court of Disputed Returns — was won by the Liberal Party, tying numbers between Labor and the Coalition, and after Independent Liz Cunningham voted to install a minority Coalition government led by the Nationals’ Rob Borbidge.

Goss’ first surgery for brain cancer took place soon thereafter, with additional surgery occurring in 2002.

It is understood Goss’ impending treatment is for a recurrence of the cancer rather than a new growth, but that his prognosis for a full recovery is very good.

This column wishes to minute best wishes to Mr Goss and his family, and hopes Goss is able to make a rapid convalescence and to return to living a full and normal life in his retirement years.

 

Lunatics On The Loose: Greens Scupper Pact With Labor

In a typically histrionic act for which it refuses to even take responsibility, the Communist Party Greens today ended its alliance with the ALP in name, but not in practice; these fruitcakes may well be free to “advance” their causes, but the charade will change little for Labor and Julia Gillard.

Even so — early in week three of a month in which Gillard and Labor seem hellbent on self-destruction — the announcement by Greens leader Christine Milne that her party was calling time on its alliance with the ALP is probably something Labor could do without.

Yet Milne — a figure utterly devoid of charisma and electoral appeal, and a pious and sanctimonious specimen to boot — characteristically blamed the ALP for the actions of her own party, saying that Labor had “walked away” from the deal.

Painting a bizarre picture in which she was simply announcing the end of the ALP-Greens coalition on behalf of the ALP, Milne claimed Labor had ended its alliance with her party.

‚ÄúLabor has effectively ended its agreement with the Greens,‚ÄĚ she told the National Press Club.¬†‚ÄúWell, so be it.‚ÄĚ

“I thought it was time we just cleared the air, said they’ve walked away and frankly the response from some of them shows they have walked away.”

The Greens would still support supply bills and oppose no-confidence motions, Milne added.

And there’s the devil in the detail: the pompous and portentous announcement made by Milne, in the wider scheme of things, amounts to nothing.

It’s well-known that sections of the ALP have long been unhappy with what they perceived to be a destructive and largely unnecessary formal agreement with the Greens, given lower house MP Adam Bandt had pledged never to support the Liberals, and in light of the fact the Greens’ senators are largely disinclined to vote with the Coalition either.

Today’s announcement shows that, to some extent, similar sentiments have been brewing over at the Greens for a while, too.

I think the Greens saw their agreement with Gillard and Labor — call it a coalition, accord, pact or what you will — as carte blanche to inflict some of the more extreme and less reasonable elements of their agenda on the wider populace.

To some extent, of course, they have succeeded, with sometimes disastrous consequences; the hundreds of drowned asylum seekers are a direct consequence of a soft policy on illegal immigrants that was insisted upon by the Greens as the price for Senate support in abolishing the Howard government’s so-called Pacific Solution.

The fact a carbon price even exists — let alone the fact it is legislated at nearly six times the internationally accepted price — is another case in point; a stoush between the Greens and Labor erupted last year when the Greens wanted the price increased at the very time some ALP MPs were contemplating the prospect of lowering it to bring it more in line with international parameters.

And whinny she may about the mining tax being evidence of Labor’s “support for the mining industry,” but I am certain that had the tax been on track to generate the $4 billion in revenue it was intended to, rather than prove the unprofitable and abject joke it has, Milne would be lining up for her share of the “credit.”

“Credit” for a tax that — whilst raising next to nothing — has nonetheless managed to kill investment and confidence in the minerals and resources sector, destroy profits and jobs, and still hobble the one branch of the economy holding the rest out of recession.

Then again, if you’re Christine Milne and her mad band of dangerous adherents, anything short of a total shutdown of the mining sector is a sellout, a failure, and a national tragedy.

In political terms, today’s development will change nothing; certainly, in the eyes of the voting public the damage has already been done: the Labor Party has been widely and correctly perceived to have yielded to the Greens and their agenda, and any formal separation between the two probably comes too late in the political cycle to remedy that.

And the Greens, whilst rattling on with their usual moral indignation, will always attract the same rump following in the future that they have done at elections past.

Milne has said that her party’s main priorities, moving forward, were a¬†transition to renewable energy, reforming the mining tax, raising the dole, boosting public school funding and implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Those priorities could as easily be represented as driving energy prices higher, inflicting further damage on the country’s main export industry, rewarding indolence, throwing money at an inefficient but critical sector with no emphasis on value for money, and legislating a worthy but unfunded and totally unaffordable initiative.

The list of the Greens’ gripes goes on.

Yet irrespective of the legitimacy or otherwise of those gripes — and frankly, not much of what the Greens obsess over is rooted in any real-world considerations of common sense — today’s announcement will have the psychological effect of letting some of the more extreme elements within Milne’s party off the leash.

Luminaries such as NSW senator Lee Rhiannon — a one-time propaganda writer for the USSR, now a mainstay of the Greens’ extreme Left — have effectively been given the green light to advocate whatever they like.

Truly nasty individuals, such as SA senator Sarah Hanson-Young, will now be free to say whatever they see fit about anyone who disagrees with them, not that they hold back anyway; free to back Palestine and its militants, for example, over Israel, with what I would wager to be no first-hand experience whatsoever of either the issues involved or of the relative contributions made by the Jewish community in Australian society.

And the truly well-meaning (I’m not being sarcastic) but naive members of the Greens’ ranks, such as lovely Larissa Waters from Queensland, can promise endless buckets of money in the name of “social justice” with nary a care about the fact that to pay for their largesse, it’ll be “someone else” — the taxpayer — who foots the bill.

There isn’t a lot of emphasis on responsibility over at the Greens.

But on one level, why would there be? The party scored just 11% of the vote at the 2010 election, and have spent the better part of three years since then seeing to it that the other 89% of the electorate have had large doses inflicted upon them of policies they never voted for, and in all likelihood never would.

So much for the lamentable Christine Milne and her “principled” show of outrage.

Yet the Greens still have the temerity to complain about this, or to take a pot shot at the Labor Party for allowing it to occur?

Far from being let down, the Greens have secured far more from the present government than 11% of the vote could or should have ever entitled them to expect or imagine.

And the rest of us are paying for it — literally.

Still, in an ideal world, the Greens would have us live in a country (and a world) with open borders; no effective military; no cars; higher taxation; limitless public services, especially in healthcare; boycotts on Israel (concurrent with a pandering to Muslim extremists and terrorists, coupled with support for fundamentalist regimes abroad); an end to mining and most agriculture; and a spiral into the ominous, terrifying world of communist Nirvana.

If anyone can spot a word of concern for the environment in that list — or any of the other lunar policies the Greens’ platform advocates — they’re doing better than I can.

The Communist Party Greens is a frightening organisation; the most frightening thing about them, frankly, is that so many of their supporters think they’re parking a harmless protest vote with a group of concerned environmentalists in voting for them, when the Greens are nothing of the sort.

And self-indulgent victim statements, like the one delivered by Christine Milne today, do nothing at all to change that.

Ultimately and regrettably, however, the only winner from today’s proceedings is the Greens; the ALP will wear the opprobrium and political consequences of allowing itself to accede to so many of the Greens’ demands whilst the Greens themselves, quietly, skip off in search of new ways to further their insidious agenda.