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Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Page: 1399

Senator BOSWELL (8:11 PM) —I seek leave to speak for 20 minutes.

Leave granted.

Senator BOSWELL —Australia needs to work out very quickly that the Greens are the One Nation of the Left. Bob Brown is the socialist Pauline Hanson. The big and alarming difference between them lies in the public’s perception. The danger represented by the extreme Right position of Hanson and One Nation was clear from the very beginning; the flip side, the left-wing extremism of the Greens, is still largely under the radar. The Greens are still far too widely perceived as a benign political force. This should not obscure the reality that the Greens and Bob Brown are at least as dangerous to Australia as One Nation and Pauline Hanson were; in fact, it underscores it. The Greens are the political equivalent of the Trojan horse, and the danger they represent is enhanced mightily by the paralysis of their host party.

The Australian Labor Party is like a rabbit in the spotlight. The Greens have divided Labor—they have played with their collective minds. The so-called progressives in the support base of the Labor Party are moving to the left. The blue-collar workers, the bread-and-butter of the old Labor Party, are moving to the right. Labor is bleeding from the right and the left but seems hypnotised by the Greens, who are the extreme Left. Even the Labor Party’s Left is lurching towards fringe Greens preoccupations such as gay marriage in order to try to recover its credentials.

I challenge the Labor Party: I will happily take any Labor senator or member to the front bar of any working-class pub that he nominates so that he can advocate gay marriage, and I will happily stand back and hold his coat. Somewhat ahead of the electorate, Labor is showing some panicky signs of recognition, with silly priorities but absolutely no sign of redemptive action, that it is in danger of being taken over by the Left. If the Australian Labor Party does not wake up and deal with the Greens head on, history will repeat itself, and some dreadful history will be made in this country. We will have another nasty, divisive period like the one we endured with One Nation, but it will be far worse. It will be far worse because a very weak and confused Labor Party is already displaying clear signs that it will give away far more to this One Nation of the Left than the conservatives were ever prepared to give to the One Nation of the Right, and that weakness and appeasement could do major long-term damage to Australia.

It is true that Labor is not alone in acting like a rabbit in the spotlight. The conservatives did not move quickly enough to deal with One Nation. They were concerned then, just as Labor is concerned now, with bleeding votes. The conservatives were worried about their right; Labor are worried about their left. The result was one of the nastiest and most divisive episodes in Australian political history. In retrospect the vast majority of mainstream conservatives accept that we should have moved faster, but at least we did ultimately act and the One Nation bushfire was never able to gain a serious foothold nationally. I am proud of being in the forefront of that move. At that stage I looked at the bigger picture of the danger to Australia and took One Nation head on. It had to be done. It has to be done with the Greens; it has to be done with urgency. That is because the Greens have already achieved the significant toehold that One Nation was never able to achieve outside Queensland.

From the middle of next year the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate. Their success in the Senate and in winning a seat in the House of Representatives has given them momentum. They now threaten to broaden their influence in state elections in Victoria and in New South Wales. This success has largely happened by default. There is certainly a small hardcore of Greens support that roughly equates to the disenchanted left of the Labor Party and those to the left of the left of Labor, but it is my firm belief that the relatively large vote for the Greens at the last federal election was in general not so much a vote of confidence in the policies of the Greens as a vote against both the coalition and, especially, the Labor Party on a couple of specific issues—and we know what they were.

People simply voted for the Greens because they could not bring themselves to vote for the coalition or Labor. They thought that the Greens were a valid place to park their vote while they waited for their respective major parties to provide them with encouragement to return to the fold. The Greens were assumed to be safe because they had been around for a while, albeit as redundant and harmless fringe dwellers. To most people they had the reputation of a latter-day Australian Democrat. I urge anyone who has held or still holds that sort of attitude towards the Greens to take a hard, long look at their policies set against their new position of authority in the political life of the nation.

Greens policies are obviously blatantly the work of the extreme left. Many are full of envy and plain stupidity. Someone has to bell the cat on the Greens before it is too late. It should be Labor; it will not be Labor. Labor is too confused; Labor is too weak. If the Greens were less of a threat it would be logical for the conservative side of politics to let the Labor Party stew in its own juice, but those are not the circumstances we have. Labor’s weakness has already led to ominous concessions. The Prime Minister’s comprehensive backflip on the carbon price from no to yes within days of the August election has to be seen through the prism of Greens pressure and Greens appeasement.

A weak, rudderless, frightened Labor Party is at the beck and call of the Greens extremists inside as well as outside these walls. The danger is that it will get far worse and that even more dangerous, divisive and silly concessions will be made in the name of appeasement. That could eventually destroy Labor as a mainstream party. As tempting as it is to sit back and watch that happen, I cannot do that. Australia cannot afford to have a weak government being led by the nose by a party as dangerous as the Australian Greens. Too much damage can be done before Labor is prepared to move. The upside for this side of the chamber is that by belling the Greens we also bell Labor. As Australians finally look at the comprehensive extremism of the Greens policies they will be shocked that a party with the strong traditions of the Labor Party is so weak.

I am pleased to see that process on our side of politics has now started. The decision by the coalition parties in Victoria to preference Labor ahead of the Greens will almost certainly end the potential that the Greens might have won four seats in Melbourne that could have given them the balance of power. As Tony Abbott said, it is much better for the conservatives to seek to win in their own right rather than suffer another hung parliament and another weak, do-nothing Labor government.

In the time available I cannot do a comprehensive job on every silly and dangerous Greens policy; I can but highlight the worst of them. The Greens want a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. We were going to struggle to reduce them by five per cent on 2000 figures which is a 25 per cent cut in business as usual. Short of a crash program to build nuclear power stations there is no route to a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The very big danger is that pressure from the Greens and their fellow travellers could well lead to Australia ending up with an unsustainable, high, unilateral price on carbon via a carbon tax.

The Greens have a policy for a carbon tax as an interim measure ahead of the introduction of a carbon pollution reduction scheme. They have already established their authority on this issue by the Prime Minister’s U-turn after the election. That U-turn can only be seen as a sop to the Greens and their fellow travellers. Greens and supporters of this policy for economic suicide hold a clear simple majority on the Gillard government Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. Add pressure on the government from the internal Labor left, seething at being supplanted by the Greens, and there is immense pressure for a ridiculous outcome on a carbon price.

The Greens want a 40 per cent mining tax and they are pressing that issue right now. I can understand the appeal of that policy to a stoned, dropped-out, Brunswick hippie who does not have the slightest idea about or interest in the economic fate of the country, but I cannot comprehend that any rational Australian could support what amounts to the original proposal from Kevin Rudd to destroy the Australian mining industry. It is impossible to comprehend Bob Brown’s personal call for a 50 per cent tax. The Green’s policy, let alone Brown’s policy, would topple the foundation of Australia’s economy. The none-too-subliminal message here is: that is exactly what the Greens want to do. It is what their carbon policy is aimed at. It is what their mining tax policy is aimed at. The Greens want the renewable energy target expanded from the current 20 per cent to 30 per cent. This comes just as people are at last waking up to the fact that Labor’s 20 per cent target represents a phenomenal waste of money—wasted in the name of populism.

The flaws in the solar rebate program have now been comprehensively exposed, yet the Greens’ policy and a Greens-sponsored private member’s bill call for a German-style system of gross feed-in tariffs—not just for solar—across the renewables sector across the country. Never mind that it is now widely recognised that power prices in Australia are set to double, and possibly triple, over the next few years because of other factors—which highlights the stupidity of adding to those price pressures through inefficient, highly expensive, renewable projects. And never mind that Germany, the country the Greens hold up as the model for this sort of action on renewables, has the second highest power prices in Europe and the second highest power taxes in Europe. Only Denmark, with its massive reliance on wind power, has higher power prices and higher power taxes.

In industrial relations, the Greens want full restoration of union power in the workplace. They want to abolish the private health insurance rebate. That would add massively to the burden on public hospitals as people who cannot afford to contribute to their health care stop doing so. Labor is already moving to appease the Greens by flagging legislation to reduce the rebate. The Greens want an effective decriminalisation of personal drug use, with government funded shooting galleries, including the provision of heroin. They want open community detention for asylum seekers, and they already have that. They want to pull Australia out of ANZUS, which would be an effective end to the military alliance with the US. They want to increase global governance, with a much more powerful United Nations. They want to dramatically cut funding to non-government schools—not just the richest schools; all non-government schools. They want to end the diesel fuel rebate for the transport industry, for farmers and for fishermen. This will drive up the cost of goods massively. They want to ban new coal mines, even extensions to existing coal mines. They do not want to see refurbishment of coal-fired generators. The Greens would ban exploration for uranium resources, ban uranium mining and ban uranium exports. They want to keep company tax rates high, at 33 per cent. They want to restore capital gains taxes. They want to make the entire Coral Sea a no-take zone. More than that, they want to shut down 30 per cent of Australian territorial waters to all forms of fishing, and they want the states to carry no-take zones to the shoreline.

These are just some of the worst examples of policy making by the Greens. There are many more. Some of those mentioned here, and some not mentioned here, are so extreme that the Labor Party will simply not be able to entertain them, even if they want to. Others, especially where they intersect with views held within the left of the Labor Party, may well see the light of day if the moderates in the Labor Party do not find their soul and Labor maintains the current policy of appeasement.

Some of the decisions the Labor Party may be capable of making, as elements of this appeasement, could do extreme damage to the Australian economy. Make no mistake; the Greens are the left. They are socialists. Their policies are mostly puerile, the stuff you would expect from a socialist political club at a university. Their policies are totally uncosted. They are, for the most part, utter nonsense, but they are a very, very dangerous form of nonsense and, given the weakness of the government they will shortly have in the palm of their hand, they could well make a nonsense of this country.