By JR on Thursday, December 08, 2011
When the Australian people voted in last year's federal election, most of them did not vote for the Greens nor did they endorse a Coalition government involving the Greens. But that's what they got.
In the vote for the House of Representatives, where government is decided, 94 per cent of the adult population voted and 88 per cent of their collective primary vote went to parties other than the Greens. Yet in the ensuing 15 months all the big policy shifts by the Gillard government - none of which was put to the electorate - have been towards core policies of the Greens.
The Prime Minister said no to a carbon tax. We have a carbon tax. She said no to open borders. We have de facto open borders. She said no to gay marriage. Support for gay marriage is now Labor Party policy. She put off indefinitely any substance of an emissions trading scheme. The machinery for such a scheme has been legislated. She said little about giving trade unions sweeping new rights. The unions are now acting on sweeping new rights.
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Yet another brick in the Green wall was put in place this week when Gillard and her cabinet made a mockery of the tender process, reversed itself again, and wasted millions of dollars again, giving the running of the Australia Network to the ABC, indefinitely.
The Greens, utterly wedded to big government, wanted this tax-funded Australian overseas TV network to be part of the ABC. The Greens will propose legislation seeking to make this happen next year.
It already has, effectively. The network will operate as part of the ABC despite losing the tender process to Sky News and despite the ABC's dreadful 24-hour news network being grossly inferior to Sky News.
On a much larger scale, the government's decision this week to expand the refugee intake from 14,000 to 20,000 a year was another capitulation to a core Green policy.
Having inherited no asylum-seeker problem when it took office in 2007, the Labor government promptly changed the policy, softened the language and reinvigorated the people-smuggling industry.
It then embarked on achieving the worst of both worlds by maintaining a punitive detention policy, opening and filling detention centres around the country, detaining more people for longer than ever before. All while not stopping the boats.
The cost of this debacle has blown out to $1 billion a year. The government has given up, blamed the opposition and will now process asylum-seekers onshore in Australia - Greens policy. It will release them into the community more quickly - another core Greens policy.
To absorb the inevitable increase in asylum-seeker arrivals, it is simply increasing the refugee intake.
Had Julia Gillard taken this policy to the people in August last year, she would have lost the election.
Had she been forthcoming about her views on a carbon tax, she would have lost the election.
Had she revealed her desire to commit Australia to an emissions trading scheme as soon as possible, she would have lost the election.
Another telling detail emerged this week, from Durban, South Africa, where Australia is participating in the latest round of global talks on climate change. The government is supporting a binding agreement to set limits on global emissions.
It is anxious not to become isolated in its commitment to a global emissions trading scheme, which does not yet exist. But the only two governments that really matter on this subject, the United States and China, the world's two greatest polluters, have both been blocking binding commitments.
The week began with another shift to Greens policy with the formal endorsement by the Labor Party of support for gay marriage.
Another core Gillard policy was set aside by her party, if not by its leader, as Labor moved ground on the issue that probably matters more to the Greens than any other.
Now the government is shifting on another Greens issue, increasing the power of the unions. It is reviewing the Fair Work Act, the building block of industrial relations law.
The inevitable result will be that it seeks to make the law more union-friendly than it already is.
The Prime Minister's commitment to paying her debts to the unions was laid bare when she agreed to dismantle the highly effective Australian Building and Construction Commission, which was cleaning up an industry plagued by violence, blackmail and collusion.
The campaign to get rid of the commission (replaced by a building industry inspectorate with far less power) was led by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, which had been fined $3 million by the commission for numerous corrupt practices.
The union's campaign was supported by the Greens, an unsavoury alliance given the industry's long history of corruption.
Unsavoury, but effective within the larger alliance Julia Gillard has made with the Greens.