Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bob Brown's best days lie ahead of him, the Greens' best may be behind them



I think Bob Brown is getting out while the getting is good. Senator Brown has had amazing success - from just him, to finishing with about nine senators and a lower house seat.

But I feel a democrat denouement is due. I can recall the turning point where the democrats went from a valid protest vote towards an irrelevance. It coincided with the time they attained the electoral power to get anything done.

When Meg Lees did the deal to allow a GST she pleased nobody. The hardliners in her part felt she'd sold out the small person, the economic pragmatists felt she nobbled a good tax tool by quarantining fresh foods. And on reflection I think she made a good call. But nobody liked her for it.



The weight of electoral power is a heavy burden to bear. My mum has always said that extremists are useful - and I feel she's right - they can push the mainstream in a better direction. But winning electoral power forces one to play in the space of getting things done, at a pace the country is prepared to swallow - for more than one election in a row.

The 2pp vote of Labor 44 against Coalition 56 indicates that the country might not be swallowing it. I think Adam Bandt will be unceremoniously booted, and the greens will lose a couple of senators next election. When the Democrats stalled it was because they compromised. This time with the Greens it will be because they didn't, compromise. Ah, the plight of a party that gains some power on the back of the "none of the above" vote.

What I really liked to see was Bob, with his partner, speaking about the rich family life that awaits them in retirement. A dignified vote for common sense.

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