THE SHOCK RESIGNATION of
Communist Party Greens leader Christine Milne today will — despite removing one of the nastiest and most piously sanctimonious specimens ever elected to an Australian Parliament — change very little; the Greens have shown typical disregard for the “principles” they trumpet, and whilst we wish Milne no hard feelings as she slithers away, her departure will do nothing to bring common sense or sanity to her party.
Not being a creature of the hard Left and finding socialism and communism deeply distasteful at best, I find myself with very little to say about Christine Milne on one of the biggest days of her career that is remotely positive.
Even so, I am a great believer that credit should be given where it is due: and accordingly, I wish to acknowledge her resignation from the leadership of the Greens (with the accompanying promise not to recontest her Senate berth at the next federal election) in as fulsome and enthusiastic terms as I can muster.
I never thought to hear myself utter these words, but Milne has rendered a wonderful service upon Australia today.
Milne has said she is quitting politics for personal and family reasons, and to provide her party with “generational change.” We wish her no ill will in her overdue retirement.
A relic of a bygone era when “Greens” in name actually campaigned on environmentally based platforms, Milne cut her political teeth a quarter of a century ago in a fight over a proposed pulp mill in Tasmania, and whilst she proved to be on the winning side in that contest — entering the Tasmanian state Parliament in 1989 in the washout from those events — Milne will be mostly remembered by thinking people as little more than an inflexible socialist.
And in the spirit of giving credit where it is due, it would be remiss not to observe the excellent political obituary published in The Australian by Chris Kenny, who accurately characterised her as “a snarling, negative leader” whilst cataloguing the insidiously intolerant, belligerent outpost of Soviet-style brutalism into which the Greens have evolved during her tenure as their leader.
Christine Milne was not a “leader” for her times or, indeed, for any time; the illiberal and intolerant agenda advanced by the Greens under her leadership — on industry and energy policy, welfare, taxation, defence, immigration, media policy and social matters — would, if ever (God forbid) implemented, have plunged Australia into economic ruin and social chaos as anyone to the Right of Lenin was ostracised and persecuted as “extremists,” whole industries sabotaged and dismantled, indolence and apathy subsidised and rewarded, the defence forces neutered and the country’s borders thrown open, and any voice dissenting from the line of the junta involuntarily silenced.
In fact, Milne’s greatest achievement probably lies in the fact that such a noxious platform could develop under her malevolent, malignant gaze whilst still managing to fool a not-so-insubstantial minority of the Australian public into thinking that the Greens remained, at heart, an “environmental” party.
I must confess I will miss Milne, and whilst we haven’t had cause to talk about her so frequently since the 2013 election — the dilution of relevance that comes with an election loss will do that — I know she has entertained and enraged my readers in equal measure over the years.
We’ve paid homage to Milne’s expertise in matters of military strategy and terrorism.
We’ve witnessed her inability to control her colleagues, as they argued over whether fuel indexation was an initiative to be supported on environmental grounds, or a political sledgehammer to be deployed against the hated Tony Abbott by blocking it.
We’ve giggled as she failed to explain the distinction between a genuine conflict of interest and a political roadblock her Greens found immoveable — in more ways than one.
And we’ve felt her anger, as at least one Liberal government elected by a thumping margin found the cojones to tell her, and her deeply objectionable political outfit, to piss off.
During the 2013 election campaign — and at least in part as a result of Milne’s efforts as Greens leader at a time her party served in formal partnership with Labor in government — this column advocated for the Greens to be wiped out at the ballot box, and readers can revisit those arguments here and here. And happily, the party shed 30% of its 2010 vote, and won two fewer Senators in 2013 than it had three years earlier.
That downward movement in Greens representation could have been more, and its effects will take time to be felt on account of the rotation of Senators. But it was a good start, and that too is something Milne can take credit for presiding over.
But my favourite encounter with her in this column came almost three years ago, as Milne used an opinion piece in The Australian to turn the issue of asylum seekers into mouth-foaming rant that was part partisan drivel, part justification, and part attempt to poke her nose (and that of her party) into things that had absolutely nothing to do with her, the Greens, or Australia at all.
Like cleaning up corruption on the docks in Indonesia, for which no methodology was offered, but which would almost certainly have started a war if any Australian government attempted to implement it.
In the end, that’s just what the Greens have become under Milne’s stewardship: sanctimonious, pious, dictatorial and prescriptive, and adept at interfering in matters which wiser heads would steer well clear of.
The adage about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread is particularly apt where assessments of Christine Milne’s leadership is concerned.
And as it drew to a close today — in typical fashion — the Greens, who have long trumpeted that theirs is a party whose leadership is determined by its members, acted swiftly to install a replacement based on the votes of its ten Senators, plus sole lower house MP Adam Bandt: to the total exclusion of their much-vaunted rank-and-file constituency.
Little time ought to be expended on pondering why now ex-deputy Greens leader Bandt did not replace Milne; it may, as claimed, have had to do with the imminent birth of his first child.
Or it could simply be that Bandt did not have the support of the fruit cakes inside the Greens party room whose bidding any new leader would be obliged to perform.
But great thanks can be given to whatever higher power you believe in that Milne’s replacement was not actual Communist, former Soviet propagandist and traitor to Australia, Lee Rhiannon; similarly, the imbecilic, juvenile, staunchly socialist Sarah Hanson-Young — whose cavalier attitude toward human life was evidenced by her dismissal of more than a thousand asylum seeker deaths at sea as proof that “accidents happen” — would have made a predictable choice for a party of the far Left that, happily, was not taken.
That said, the Greens seem to have appointed a “leadership group” and, just like a football team, now have a captain (Victorian Senator Richard di Natale) and two (2) vice captains, Queensland bleeding heart and compassion babbler Larissa Waters and enigmatic Western Australian Senator Scott Ludlam.
It is to be hoped only one of these deputies is to be paid the salary loading the position attracts under parliamentary entitlement guidelines, although then again — given what good little socialists the Greens are — maybe the two of them will split it.
I had high hopes that di Natale — a doctor, far more articulate than Milne and, by virtue of his profession, arguably more intelligent — might prove a surprise packet, and actually behave like a responsible political operator bent on more than just the spread of socialism and the obliteration of anything to the Right of Andropov.
Yet already — and despite his claim to aspire for the Greens to become a party of the mainstream Left — he has shown that he will play the same cracked record on social policy as Milne did, telling Tom Elliott on Melbourne radio station 3AW this afternoon that the Abbott government was culpable for the continued presence of children in immigration detention; when it was pointed out to him that some 1,200 children had been detained under Labor (and Greens) policy prior to the 2013 election, and that 90% of them had since been released, di Natale immediately parroted the Milne/Hanson-Young line that “10% is 10% too many,” apparently ignorant of and/or oblivious to procedural considerations that must — like it or not — first be followed.
It’s an inauspicious start, if I’m being nice about it.
I can’t wait to hear his ideas on other areas of governance, but those will be stories for another day. Initial appearances, however, suggest that even with Milne departing the asylum, it remains manned by an adequate contingent of lunatics for common sense, sanity, and rational political positions to be beyond the Greens in both comprehension and application.
It does rather seem that the more things change, the more they stay the same; but from this point onward the Greens will sally forth without the venerable Milne leading the charge, and soon — belatedly, but very soon — she will no longer sit in Parliament at all.