Federal Intervention Into NSW ALP Rudd’s Latest Stunt

TOUGH-SOUNDING rhetoric from Kevin Rudd about overhauling the ALP is not only meaningless, but the party won’t brook it; in trying to eke votes from an “intervention” into NSW Labor, Rudd is playing with shadows, and ensuring he will be overthrown as PM again if Labor is re-elected federally.

In 2007, then-opposition leader Kevin Rudd won an election with a campaign, which — stripped of whatever effect WorkChoices had — was essentially predicated on slogans and soundbites.

If Labor won, the Prime Minister would be “Kevin ’07” who, in an effort to assure John Howard’s voters that he was safe, proclaimed himself an “economic conservative.” There would be an “education revolution.” “Kevin ’07″‘s slick, hip outfit would take action against climate change, end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop the “obscenity” of women and children locked up in detention, and — in a retrospectively laughable proclamation on government expenditure — memorably thundered that “this reckless spending must stop.”

On and on it went, and to the extent such an approach can’t and won’t work in 2013 — there is the small matter of a record of six truly shocking years of Labor government — it doesn’t matter, because born-again Kevin has fixed on a new trick to replace his slogans.

Stunts.

Big ones, little ones, stunts with carefully concealed punchlines and stunts that are too clever by half; cheap, tacky stunts will hoodwink millions of Australians into voting Labor.

It’s the principle in play when it comes to Rudd’s demands that, effectively, Tony Abbott should participate in a debate on economics so Rudd can bully him over Liberal Party policy, whilst putting forward nothing of his own for scrutiny.

People will swallow the Rudd line that Tony is running scared and will vote Labor instead, goes the theory.

Now, Rudd has come up with an equally jackarsed and similarly half-baked stunt to woo voters in New South Wales: a federal intervention into the NSW branch of the ALP.

If there is one thing anyone who has ever dealt with the ALP knows, it’s that it is — to quote Lord Fisher, the head of the British Navy during the first World War — ruthless, relentless and remorseless.

Whatever its faults and whatever its failings, the ALP isn’t commonly referred to as “a machine” for nothing; its tribal nature, its factions and its grounding in the union movement are often its sources of great weakness, but they also underpin the Labor Party’s greatest strength: resilience.

Rudd — a specimen with an excessively established view of his own importance — has been returned to the Prime Ministership by his party for the purpose of winning an election.

And that’s it.

But Rudd harbours different views; he believes that his return is evidence of his party’s ultimate dependence on him for its survival, and this seems to have convinced him that he’s free to throw his weight around wherever he likes.

His target — NSW Labor — is correctly identified as a national embarrassment to the ALP.

But funnily enough, it is also the division of the party that masterminded his dumping as Prime Minister in the first place.

NSW is, of course, the state that had no fewer than four Labor Premiers in six years.

It is the state that recorded the biggest defeat* of a state Labor government in modern political history back in 2011.

It’s the state that has seen a cabinet minister from that government (Milton Orkopoulos) jailed for paedophilia offences, and a parade of others through an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into corrupt practices that are a daily source of damning headlines for the ALP.

Rudd seems to think that by announcing a federal intervention in NSW, voters will somehow be impressed enough to swarm to his banner at the ballot box in a couple of months’ time.

This view tends to overlook historical precedent.

Gough Whitlam — as federal leader of the ALP — instigated a federal intervention into Labor’s dysfunctional Victorian branch in 1967; Labor in Victoria had long been moribund, out of office at the state level since 1955 and wrecking the party’s prospects federally, virtually costing it government singlehandedly in 1961 and 1969.

It would be 1980 before the effects of Whitlam’s intervention would deliver a majority of Victoria’s federal seats to Labor; and a state election win would take longer, finally coming in 1982 under John Cain Jr.

There are other instances of federal intervention I could just as easily use to illustrate the point; properly undertaken, these interventions are essentially root-and-branch restructures that are completed with a lot of acrimony and a lot of spilt blood, and take years — not weeks — to bed down.

Nonetheless, Rudd is going to have an intervention in NSW in July that will help engineer an election victory by November at the latest, and probably much sooner.

Can anyone believe this? It’s hardly credible or plausible.

Apparently, guidelines being laid down in NSW as part of the Rudd intervention include “a zero tolerance of corruption.”

Does this mean corruption in the ALP is OK until it gets in the way of winning elections?

Why isn’t “a zero tolerance of corruption” a standard and non-negotiable principle of the Labor Party across the country, rather than just in NSW?

Is it for the same reasons the union movement is ready to fight to stop a Liberal government imposing the same standards of governance required of business under the Corporations Act on their organisations in the wake of the scandal engulfing the Health Services Union?

Anyone who thinks what Rudd is doing in NSW is anything other than a charade is kidding themselves.

And populist Kevin — the so-called People’s Prime Minister — is attempting another reform within the ALP too: election of the parliamentary leader by its rank and file members.

As the story goes, Rudd is seeking to adopt the system used by Labour in the UK, whereby MPs, the trade unions and the membership all get a vote on the leadership that is evenly weighted.

Allowing branch members a say in electing the leader is popular, yes? In theory, yes.

But in practice, it doesn’t work: British Labour is saddled with a leader in Ed Miliband who seems destined to allow an unpopular Conservative administration to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat; too timid, too left-wing and too facile, Miliband was heavily backed by unions against his more urbane (and electable) brother David, who has since left politics and deprived British Labour of what could well have been its next Prime Minister.

That Conservative administration, in turn — led by David Cameron — is dominated by a Conservative Party that opened its own leadership election arrangements up to the rank and file in 2003.

In that system, MPs select two candidates who are voted on by members to elect a leader; Cameron and his predecessor Michael Howard were presented to the membership as unanimous choices, avoiding a ballot, but it doesn’t take a political genius to see that such a practice is heavily geared toward the triumph of populism over substance and competence.

In fact — if we stick with the UK for a bit — those changes on both sides to strip MPs of the exclusive right to elect a parliamentary leader were introduced by unpopular leaders who potentially stood to gain from diluting the influence of their colleagues in future leadership contests (Iain Duncan Smith on the Tory side, and Gordon Brown in the Labour Party).

Oddly enough, that gearing is precisely the reason Rudd wants to go down such a path.

Rudd wants to ensure that never again can he be stripped of his leadership as a result of faceless party thugs controlling the votes of union-allied MPs in a party room vote.

At face value and to the outsider, it all sounds wonderfully democratic and inclusive — as, of course, it is meant to.

But the reality is that it will never happen.

Like the sternly phrased intervention in NSW, Rudd’s attempts at reform of Labor leadership ballots will not be tolerated by the party machine he leads.

The machine men destroyed the leadership of Simon Crean ten years ago in response to reforms he enacted, and that was simply to dilute the union share of votes at party conferences from 60% to 50%.

What Rudd is trying to do is exponentially more far-reaching.

Crean, at least, is and was a born creature of the Labor Party, its tribal ways, its factional structures and its union history. Rudd is nothing of the sort.

And just as it was capable of chewing Crean up and spitting him out, so too is the ALP machine capable of doing exactly the same thing to Rudd.

Obviously, it has already done so once.

And whilst Rudd clearly thinks what he is up to will curry favour with voters, the reality is that it won’t; people are fed up with Labor, and rather than attract votes, Rudd risks a charge a la Bob Hawke of “if you can’t govern yourselves, you can’t govern the country.”

If Rudd somehow manages to pull off a surprise election victory, his moment of glory will be brief; the faceless men of the ALP — sensing the danger he poses to their established order — will quickly and ruthlessly dispatch him from the Prime Ministership, safe in the knowledge that three years are available to work out how to win a fourth term in 2016.

After all, they will have done it once before — in 2010 — and ultimately have gotten away with it.

Nobody should believe Labor is beholden to Rudd if he wins this year in any case, but by his actions Rudd is making it a virtual certainty that he will be knifed, again, in a midnight coup should he secure another term for his party.

So much for Kevin Rudd. So much for his slogans and stunts and smart answers.

When it comes to the Labor Party, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

*based on Labor’s share of the two-party preferred vote, not its proportion of seats won.

Pious Sanctimony: Milne Rant Proves Greens’ Unfitness For Office

In an article published in The Australian on Friday, Communist Party Greens leader Christine Milne poses the question, “Politics with integrity or compromising people’s lives?” What follows is essentially a discourse of evidence as to why the Greens are totally unfit for office. 

It’s no surprise, but Senator Milne has written a dishonest, misleading and self-serving piece on behalf of her ghastly party; one which serves to distort the reality and public expectations of various issues, whilst attempting to make mileage from the very things she claims her “caring” party is above the politics of when — in fact — it is as guilty as sin in terms of its attempts to push a narrow and ideologically driven agenda.

You can read the Senator’s article here; we are however going to pick it apart, paragraph by paragraph, and so this could be a lengthy post.

And the politicking starts with the very first sentence: an accusation of ALP disloyalty being a gift to the Liberals, because Sam Dastyari had the temerity to publicly question Labor’s snug relationship with the Greens, followed by moralising waffle about this being typical of the reasons people generally are disaffected with politics in this country.

Well, I’m sorry, Christine — Dastyari and most of his colleagues weren’t even consulted when his leadership foisted its alliance with the Greens on them; it seems only fair that he, and others with more brains than some, should have their say.

Especially as Green policies are killing Labor’s political prospects, Christine. Especially as the Greens killed the prospects in Tasmania of Labor in 1992 and the Liberals in 1998, as state governments that had allied with you went to elections and were slaughtered.

And especially, Christine, since we live in a democracy — something you, yourself, proclaim we should remember how lucky we are to do so.

I think Greens see democracy as a relative concept: appropriate when they get what they want, and an outrage against everything and anything when they don’t.

Remember, this is the party that cooked up the plan to refuse to allow an Abbott government to implement its policies, irrespective of the Liberals’ winning margin next year; I wonder if the likes of Christine Milne — with her stout declaration on democracy — have ever heard the words “popular mandate.”

But I digress. Milne continues:

“Most of us can’t imagine what would make someone so desperate that they would leave everything behind, fleeing persecution or the threat of death, and board a dangerous, overcrowded boat in the hope of a future worth living. But, if we put ourselves in their shoes, we will realise that sending them ‘anywhere else but here’ will not save their lives.”

I’ll tell you what would make people that desperate, Christine: people smugglers. That’s right, the scum of humanity that take the final ducats of the desperate and send them adrift in search of mostly empty promises that can never be delivered.

A bleeding heart and a lot of long-winded babble might be a suitable prerequisite for Greens membership, Christine, but they don’t equate to knowing everything.

And specifically, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if those desperate people know that there is guaranteed asylum onshore in Australia — as per your naive and ill-informed policies, Christine — it will simply drive more and more people to take the risk. The only winners will be among the human filth who profit from trafficking them.

And on she goes…

“As Indonesian human rights lawyer Febi Yonesta said, people who have no hope and no rights will keep trying to get on boats. The best way to stop people risking their lives is to give them hope of a safer pathway to a better life. That means massively increasing the number of refugees we resettle and the funding we give the UN High Commission for Refugees in Indonesia and Malaysia, working to combat corruption in Indonesian ports, and prioritising safety of life at sea.”

Your mate Febi might be right, Christine, but you certainly aren’t. Where is the causal link between desperate people resorting to desperate measures, and your immediate segue to a purported obligation on Australia to hike the refugee intake, to throw money at Indonesia and Malaysia via the United Nations, and to interfere in domestic governance within Indonesia?

This country already undertakes and maintains a generous refugee resettlement program; we know your party wants Australia’s borders thrown open to all comers, Christine, but remember that democracy we’re all so lucky to live in? Where everyone, just like Sam Dastyari, is allowed to have their opinion?

Well, the bad news for you, Christine, is that the overwhelming majority of your countryfolk do not want the borders thrown open; nor do they want the refugee program exponentially expanded.

Like any good little hardcore Leftie, you like to hide behind the United Nations, don’t you, Christine? The UN might do a lot of good in many ways, but it is not the cornerstone of this country’s immigration policies, and should never become so.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Christine, your beloved Malaysia has agreed to be a party to an arrangement with the ALP that effectively makes Australia the dumping ground for its own unwanted arrivals. Would you like to elaborate further on how Malaysia figures in your plans, Christine?

Alternatively, perhaps you could outline the Greens’ policy on corruption in Indonesian ports and how you propose to combat it, Christine. I could do with an after-dinner laugh. Needless to say, you haven’t even contemplated the possibility that wars start over the sort of actions that you appear to advocate, Christine.

And she goes on further…

“In the renewed discussion about the choices the Greens make in the parliament, it is disturbing that so much has focused not on whether “compromising” would save lives but on how our choice would affect Labor’s political fortunes. One of the most difficult choices that cross-bench MPs have to make is how far to compromise to deliver outcomes that may bring change for the better for people, as against when to say that the offer on the table will only compromise people’s lives.”

You think you’re clever, don’t you, Christine; that your semantic games will hoodwink just enough people. Of course what the Greens do in parliament is going to be viewed through the prism of Labor’s political fortunes; after all, everything else your party has foisted on the ALP has been political poison. Like the carbon tax.

And I love the little two-step pirouette, Christine; suddenly, you speak merely of “cross-bench MPs” rather than “Greens” in reflecting how far an appropriate compromise might go as opposed to what clearly is your intended message that the Greens are beyond compromise.

For someone who’s been around as long as you have, Christine, I’m surprised you haven’t learnt that politics demands compromise. Not all the time, and not on every issue, but often, it’s the cost of doing business: to get some of what you want, imperfect as it may seem, Christine, as opposed to getting 100% of nothing.

But then again, Christine — speaking philosophically, of course — I’m sure you’d agree that looking back over history, from Soviet Russia and its evil empire to the China of Deng Xiaoping, and to countless other less-prominent but equally hardline regimes across the years and around the world, that socialism really is an inflexible beast, isn’t it, Christine?

It’s much easier to pack your bat and ball and go home; to be obstructive rather than contribute anything meaningful just because — like a spoilt brat wired on red cordial — you can’t get what you want.

Isn’t it, Christine?

Well, perhaps not, because Senator Milne continues with a justification:

“This is a balancing act the Greens take very seriously, cross-examining policy detail, talking to experts and people who will be affected by our decision. We ask: will our choice deliver a better quality of life for people now and into the future, or will it jeopardise it, now or across time?”

This sounds very noble, Christine; in fact, I’d almost be inclined to believe you were it not for the fact that every one of your policies lifts straight out of the hardcore ideology of the hard Left.

Talk the Greens might, Christine, and call the process as balanced as you like, but there’s nothing in your policies for anyone to the right of a social democrat, is there, Christine? There’s 60% of the population gone, at a stroke!

Seriously though, readers, I’m so moved by the Senator’s stated concern to consult, to inform her party of all shades of opinion and of all outcomes, and to be a force for good, that I’m just going to get the Kleenex.

What poppycock…and again, bleeding heart and senseless compassion might be well and noble, but in the real world, utopia doesn’t exist, and the rest of us with feet planted firmly on the ground don’t need the likes of Senator Milne and her band of communists trying to level us out.

On we go again…

“But it is remarkable how many commentators opine that the Greens should have ditched policy evidence and our principles on tackling global warming and protecting refugees, not because we were wrong but because these controversial issues needed to be taken off the political agenda as they damage the ALP.”

Methinks thou doth protest too much, Christine; here you go again, referencing the political damage your policies are inflicting on the Labor Party. Someone has to take responsibility for them, right? Your party held a gun to the ALP’s throat to get a lot of this stuff legislated, Christine. Yet the Greens skip off quietly and let Labor take the rap.

That’s not very sporting is it, Christine?

(And interestingly enough, it’s at this point in her article that Milne skips away from boat arrivals and refugees, and onto global warming).

After all, it’s not smart to stay in the one spot for too long — someone might have time to tear your arguments to shreds if you don’t change the subject. Right, Christine?

And down the new path she skips…

“The idea that the Greens voted down Kevin Rudd’s fatally flawed carbon pollution reduction scheme, or Julia Gillard and Abbott’s proposals, for political reasons, to push away desperate people seeking refuge shows how far away from integrity and reality the old parties have gone.”

Come on, Christine! I’ll slip you the wink and you can give me the nudge, but we both know the Greens voted down all those bills precisely for political reasons.

Then again, part of the Green ruse is to play the “non-politician,” isn’t it Christine? Greens couldn’t possibly be politicians, even if they raise campaign funds, stand at elections, get MPs into Parliament, have their own policies and agendas…

Oooh, wait, the Greens aren’t like the “old parties” are they, Christine? I’ll tell you one thing: they can plagiarise ideas just as well as anyone else.

Perhaps you don’t remember, Christine, but in the British general election debates of 2010, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg coined the phrase “the two old parties;” does this ring any bells, Christine?

Clegg — the leader of a party which is the remnant of the British Liberal Party, dating back to Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount of Palmerston, who was Britain’s first Liberal Prime Minister from 1859 to 1865 — enunciated the pretence that his party was new, when it was nothing of the kind.

Pray tell, Christine, what are the historical roots of your party? It’s not an account of recent history at all, is it, Christine? But plagiarising speeches can be a new skill every day; it’s just a matter of perspective. Wouldn’t you agree, Christine?

And on she runs…

“On climate change, our action has already been vindicated, with the introduction of a price on pollution that is far more ambitious and gives industry far greater certainty than Rudd’s. The $10 billion renewable energy fund and an independent expert body to recommend how fast and deep to cut pollution are benefits the Greens brought to the policy.”

So what are you squawking about, Christine? You got your way on “a price on pollution,” yet you don’t like the scrutiny being focused on Labor’s political prospects? You don’t like the consideration being given to the damage this and other lunatic policies, straight from the Greens’ communist, socialist handbook is doing to your “allies” over at the ALP?

How smug of you to accuse Sam Dastyari of this and that, just because he can see exactly what the lay of the land is. Could it be, Christine, that you lead a party of hypocrisy?

But you are right in your own way, Christine: your carbon tax does give industry far more certainty than the earlier policy of Rudd’s did — it makes the economic damage generally, and the impact on businesses specifically, that much more severe than Rudd’s policy would have done.

That policy was flawed too, Christine, but yours takes all the worst bits of it and makes  them worse again.

Did I mention the notion of heads wedged up rectums, Christine?

I only mention it now, Christine, because you go on to mention an “independent expert body” being a “benefit” of your policy. You and I know, Christine, that the “experts” you allude to are only “experts” if they go along with the “science.”

Anyone else is “a denier,” “a sceptic,” or just plain stupid.

Aren’t they, Christine?

And whilst we’re on it, perhaps you could explain why anyone should believe that the $10 billion renewable energy fund will be anything other than the rest of the so-called green initiatives that have been no more than a massive rort of taxpayer funds, and misspent money to boot: Green Loans, Cash for Clunkers, Pink Batts…just to name a few, Christine.

And then, for a bit of fancy footwork:

“On refugees, the community is recognising that the practical, compassionate and legal plan the Greens have put forward is the one that will save lives, and we are working hard to build the political will to implement it. More and more Australians remember that, despite mythology, after John Howard introduced mandatory indefinite detention, temporary protection visas and deportation to Nauru, 353 people drowned when SIEV X sank. Howard could claim he “stopped the boats” only because he excluded from our immigration zone the parts of our nation refugees came to, “redefining” 1600 asylum-seekers out of existence.”

Hate to contradict you, Christine, but they’re not recognising that at all; the wider public — as has been recorded in countless reputable opinion surveys — blame the government for the problem, they hold the Left generally responsible for the dismantling of Howard’s Pacific Solution, and they are opposed to onshore processing of unauthorised boat arrivals.

Since you raise it — and at the risk of sounding hard of heart to someone as compassionate as yourself — the incident involving the SIEV X illustrated precisely why something had to be done to stop people arriving by boat in this fashion. As I said earlier, to adopt your approach, Christine — to guarantee asylum and processing onshore — will simply ensure many thousand more people will risk their lives to access something you want to offer as standard.

Work to build the political will to implement whatever you like, Christine, but the day the ALP is no longer dependent on you to form a government, your party won’t have the political means with which to implement anything.

Which is probably just as well, given she goes on to say

“The Greens bring integrity to legislative negotiations. From the stimulus package to workplace relations to private health insurance and much more, we have improved and then passed hundreds of bills that made life better for people. Look at the down-payment on our goal of getting dental care into Medicare. See the recent carve-out for green buildings from the increase to overseas investment withholding tax, which has injected $2bn into the construction industry.”

So…from helping rack up billions in foreign debt, turning the clock back 30 years on industrial relations, helping to engineer rising costs of living for Australians in terms of healthcare and from presumably others among the “hundreds of bills” you refer to, Christine, the Greens have made life better for people?

What integrity is there in the deliberate and systematic railroading of the 89% of Australians who didn’t vote Green, Christine? The people who didn’t want, don’t want, and will never want the socialist nirvana your party seeks to inflict on them?

Milne’s remarks conclude thus:

“Despite the attacks, millions of Australians recognise that only the Greens have the integrity to face up to today’s challenges with practical, responsible action.”

Really? As we speak, millions of Australians are lining up to gift the biggest election win in Australian political history to the conservative parties; and based on reputable research, the Green vote is stagnant from the last federal election — and that’s an indictment, given that in ordinary circumstances the Greens would benefit from some of the movement away from Labor, but on this occasion, they aren’t.

People, can I just say that politics is politics; there are good and bad ideas and people and political practitioners, and it doesn’t matter what cloak the bad ones try to don: a bad idea is a bad idea, and the Greens are full of them.

Senator Milne’s article does not lend one shred of credibility to her party, its policies and its actions; but in seeking to put the spotlight on the ALP for daring to consider breaking ranks, she has instead attracted its glare onto her own party.

The Greens may well win the Melbourne by-election in Victoria next weekend; I believe they will do so, but only because there is no Liberal candidate to direct the preferences of 30% of voters somewhere other than to the Green candidate.

In closing, however, I simply say that anybody who believes the type of pap being spouted by Milne and her cronies — not least, the sort of stuff that found its way into The Australian last week — should think again.

And frankly, anyone seriously considering voting for the Greens needs their head examined.

 

Questionable Preferences: Putting Greens Last A No-Brainer For Labor

Much has been made this week of  whether the ALP should, in future, place the Communist Party Greens last on future how-to-vote cards; I say this is not simply a no-brainer, but that it goes nowhere near far enough. The Greens must be removed from Australian Parliaments.

It may surprise many readers to find me not only agreeing with an ALP apparatchik and henchman, but advocating a position that goes much further down the same path as the one that was initially proposed.

The NSW state secretary of the Labor Party, Sam Dastyari, has said the party should consider preferencing the Greens last at the looming federal election, describing them as “extremists not unlike One Nation,” saying that Labor must “stop treating them like they are part of (our) family.”

Dastyari will move a motion at next weekend’s NSW ALP Conference calling for the automatic allocation of preferences to Greens candidates to be discontinued; the motion apparently comes with a declaration that “extreme elements” of the Greens’ agenda “are at odds with the values…of many Labor voters.”

His declaration, if followed through upon and moved in those terms, is correct.

But more to the point, elements of the Greens’ agenda — extreme or otherwise — are at odds with the values and needs of almost all voters, not just those of Labor stripe.

Ted Baillieu — a Liberal — pulled off a surprise victory at the 2010 state election in Victoria; in part, this was generally attributed to a refusal by the Liberal Party to allocate preferences to the Greens ahead of the ALP across the state.

The Greens had refused to preference Coalition candidates in Victoria; in return, Baillieu’s campaign returned the favour by refusing to place the Greens ahead of Labor on how-to-vote cards.

And significantly, Baillieu stated publicly that preferencing the Greens was a one way street; for years, Greens candidates had been only too willing to accept preferences from the Coalition parties, but had mostly refused to allocate preferences to the Coalition and — in the vast majority of the historically small number of instances in which the Greens did not preference Labor — instead issued open preference tickets.

In other words, whichever way you look at it, the Liberals got nothing.

Which is why Dastyari is clearly onto something. In venting his apparent frustration toward the Greens, he says — and I quote him here from The Weekend Australian

“The Greens…take the Labor Party for granted…they have put us in a position where sometimes anywhere else would be better with our preferences, and that includes even the Coalition.” (My bolding added).

The Greens took the Liberals and the Nationals for granted for years, too, over the allocation of preferences until a stop was put to it in Victoria; now it seems some in the ALP are awake to the game as well.

On one level, they certainly should be; the Greens aren’t so much a parasite as a creeping fungus, cloaking and choking the life out of its host. But on another, this is the Labor Party we are talking about, and there is ample evidence that many in the ALP simply do not recognise the problem and refuse to see the danger, let alone address it.

To kill two birds with the one stone, it is of course necessary to look no further than the present government in Canberra to see the damage the Greens are capable of inflicting and the inability and/or unwillingness of the federal ALP to do anything about it.

Fortified by Labor preferences and armed with a hung Parliament, the Greens emerged from the 2010 federal election with the balance of power in the Senate and a critical vote in the House of Representatives obtained by winning the traditionally safe Labor electorate of Melbourne (incidentally, on Liberal Party preferences).

Desperate to hold onto power at virtually any cost — and this is an old story now — Julia Gillard cobbled together a hotchpotch alliance to enable her to form a government; whilst the key to that deal was securing the votes of Independent MHRs, its bedrock was the coalition agreement she entered into with the Greens.

The deal effectively secured a Senate majority and put Labor within reach of the lower house once key Independents signed on. Thus, Gillard and her government are beholden to the Greens.

To recognise the damage the Greens have since inflicted on the ALP, it is first necessary to look beyond the damage the ALP has inflicted upon itself; the professionalism that characterised the Labor Party of the Hawke-Keating era is long gone, replaced with a return to the mediocrity and ineptitude that symbolised Labor for decades.

The Greens might be “at odds” with the values of the Labor Party, but the Labor Party itself doesn’t exactly do a great deal to advance those values itself these days — whatever those values actually are.

Even so, virtually every major policy debacle afflicting the Gillard government has been, at best, exacerbated by the Greens.

At worst, these fiascos have been directly engineered by the Greens in ruthless exercise of their power over an abject government desperate to cling to office: firstly in the name of doing “whatever it takes,” and now to stave off the approaching electoral annihilation Labor faces for as long as possible.

For example, the carbon tax. A broken Gillard promise, yes, but this was a condition upon which Greens’ support for the government was predicated; no carbon tax, no coalition agreement.

And whilst inconceivable that the Greens would ever support a Liberal government, or Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, the ALP capitulated on this condition in return for a guarantee of support on matters of confidence and supply.

To make this worse, the level at which the carbon tax was set — $23 per tonne — is recognised (by those who support such mechanisms as an emissions reduction measure) as being well above an appropriate level based on “world standards,” which would suggest a price of $10 per tonne would be more appropriate. Yet the high starting price was largely dictated by the Greens.

And to compound this folly even further, senior figures in the government are now examining the prospect of modifying the carbon tax by reducing the price per tonne as a possible means of salving the political fury it has caused; whilst these discussions proceed — possibly as part of a wider move to change the Labor leadership again — the Greens are using the opportunity to attempt to raise the tonnage price even further.

Whilst such endeavours are unlikely to succeed, the scope for even greater political damage to be inflicted on the ALP is obvious.

To use another example, look no further than the mess which currently exists around the issues of unauthorised boat arrivals, asylum seekers, and people smuggling.

In its obsession with abandoning Howard government policies and its stubborn refusal to admit error in doing so, Labor under Kevin Rudd foolishly and ill-advisedly dismantled the so-called Pacific Solution; fast-forward four years from that event, and we now see boats arriving at will carrying thousands of asylum seekers each year.

The abolition of the Howard policy was cheered on (and waved through the Senate) by the Greens; now they have rendered Gillard incapable of achieving any meaningful resolution to the problems this caused by refusing to support any approach that includes the processing offshore of asylum seekers.

It is not unreasonable for the opposition — armed with a policy that was clearly effective for several years — to refuse to support Gillard’s half-baked schemes on this issue, especially those involving countries that were never told of arrangements supposedly made in their name (East Timor) or making five-for-one swaps that serve the interests of those countries far more than they do Australia’s (Malaysia).

But it is entirely reasonable for the Greens, as a formal coalition partner to the ALP, to be expected to reach agreement with its government ally in formulating, presenting and legislating a solution — even if such a package were to prove a failure, or be repealed by a future conservative government.

The simple fact is that on this issue, as with so many others, the Greens simply cherry-pick what is of interest to them, and dump the remaining crises in the Labor Party’s lap along with the political rancour that goes with them.

And Labor — under Julia Gillard, at least — cannot or will not deal with those issues, the Greens in particular, or the consequent political damage generally.

Having regard to all I have thus far said, Dastyari is dead right — his party must not only throw off the shackles of its alliance with the Greens, but go the next step and refuse to allocate preferences to them.

It has already done so, in the forthcoming by-election for the state seat of Melbourne, vacated by former Bracks/Brumby government minister Bronwyn Pike; the Liberal Party is not standing a candidate, and Labor is directing preferences to Family First over the Greens’ candidate, Melbourne City Councillor Cathy Oke.

The reactions from the Greens range between moral indignation and outrage, and with the very clear suggestion that in placing a Family First candidate ahead of Oke on their preference ticket, Labor has somehow breached the absolute limits of decent and ethically permissible political conduct; that not preferencing Oke is tantamount to a criminal offence, or something to be burnt at the stake for in days gone by.

The decision was described by Greens MHR Adam Bandt as “a dirty deal;” the rhetoric around Green preferences is one thing, but the reality is something else altogether.

Says Dastyari:

“The Greens are to the Left what Pauline Hanson and One Nation are to the Right, and they share ridiculous, albeit different, economic agendas. With Bob Brown’s departure, I can’t see how the Greens have any chance of keeping extremism in check…If I had to share a caucus room with the likes of Lee Rhiannon (Senator elected in 2010 and a former propaganda writer for the USSR), I would have walked out too.”

Here we get very near the mark; Dastyari is bang on the money, and it speaks volumes that not only is his call for distancing the Greens made with no collaboration from his federal counterparts, but that those same federal colleagues appear incapable of recognising exactly what their so-called friends at the Greens really are.

They are not a party of the mainstream, but rather of the lunatic fringe; their left-wing agenda, similarly, sits not within the mainstream Left but on the hard Left.

They are not a party of democracy; look no further than the scheme proposed by Bob Brown to deny a future Liberal government the right to implement its election promises as the simple proof of that.

And they are not a party of the environment, but a party preoccupied with rolling back personal responsibility and freedom of choice, of rolling back national security and defence policy and replacing them with open and unrestricted borders, and of social issues such as gay marriage and multiculturalism that have nothing to do with the environment in any way, shape or form.

To me, it’s a no-brainer to put the Greens last on preference tickets, be they Labor, Liberal, or those of any other candidate.

I agree with Dastyari’s assessment that the Greens represent for the Left the same type of major and potentially existential problem that One Nation posed to the Right.

The big difference — insidiously — is that the slick Greens outfit is possessed of the political smarts and strategies that Hanson and her acolytes so obviously lacked, with the result that hundreds of thousands of people cast Green votes at every election in the belief they are voting for the environment, or strategically as a check on the major parties, or similar, when in fact they are simply perpetuating a massive and highly dangerous ruse.

I don’t just think the Greens should be preferenced last by all other comers; I also think it’s time to reform the electoral process to make it far harder for fringe groups like the Greens to establish a foothold in this country’s Parliaments at all.

Specifically, the establishment of thresholds (especially in the Senate and state upper houses) as exist in many countries abroad, by which parties not achieving, say, 7.5% of primary vote are excluded from eligibility to be elected on preferences; the abolition of compulsory preferential voting across Australia; tying the availability of public election funding for minor parties directly to the achievement of the primary vote thresholds I mentioned earlier; and legislating to force any registered political party with at least one sitting member of Parliament to face the same degree of scrutiny in terms of fiscal auditing and probity of conduct as is required of the major parties at present.

In short, to remove the advantage the Greens hold of being able to say whatever they like, to promise whatever they like, free from any accountability apart from the broad provisions of the current applicable electoral acts, whilst riding into Parliament on a fraction of the vote to hold the country to ransom with the resultant balance of power.

So I say to Sam Dastyari: good luck! For once, a Labor backroom boy has it dead right.

And I say to all readers who may be Greens voters — and, indeed, to any Australian contemplating voting for them — to do their research on the likes of Lee Rhiannon and other dubious figures in the “Green” movement; get hold of their platform, read it thoroughly, and don’t believe for a minute any promise by any Greens politician that what you read in their platform will never be implemented.

Policy platforms are not published as coffee table items; the Greens’ platform is no different in that respect. Given the chance, everything in the Greens’ manifesto would be implemented, and that is a very, very scary prospect.

And that’s the point. We are not talking here about an organisation that is harmless, or possessed of high and worthy ideals, a “safe spot” to park a protest vote or — God forbid — a movement preoccupied with the advancement of environmental issues.

Simply stated, the Greens are mad, bad, and dangerous.

And that is one reality which really does transcend the cross-political divide.