Recent events in Australia and internationally have vindicated the Socialist Party’s position that the Greens are not a genuine left alternative for ordinary people.
In Ireland, the Greens were wiped out in last month’s General election. They had been the junior partner in a coalition government with Fianna Fail, historically the largest rightwing party in Ireland.
This Green/Fianna Fail coalition had undertaken a vicious anti-working class programme of spending cuts and the slashing of public sector wages under the direction of the IMF and European Union.
By entering into this coalition, the Irish Greens became part of the most anti-working class government in the history of the Irish State and paid the political price.
Here in Australia, similar processes are occurring. In Tasmania, the Greens are also in coalition with a pro-big business party – the ALP. The ALP/Green coalition is currently in dispute with a group of state employed prison wardens over safety issues.
The deputy Premier and minister in charge of prisons, Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim, recently stood down the wardens without pay even before they actually went on strike. He then used police to scab on the dispute.
McKim’s actions were supported by Greens leader Bob Brown while the supposedly ‘left’ Green, Melbourne Federal MP Adam Bandt, was silent on the matter.
Nationally, Adam Bandt helps prop up the right wing Gillard ALP government. This government has maintained Australian military involvement in Afghanistan and continued the policy of mandatory detention for refugees. Anti union legislation and the Australian Building and Construction Commission remains in place to undermine workers attempts to organise.
So what do the Greens get in return? They negotiated a weekly meeting with the Prime Minister and a long forgotten parliamentary debate on Afghanistan than led to zero change in policy.
The Greens take credit for the recent decision by the Gillard government to introduce a carbon tax by 2012. This market-based non-solution to the real and growing danger of climate change will only hurt ordinary people through higher bills and create financial speculation in carbon credits.
No wonder it has gone done badly amongst workers. The real solution to climate change is government action to make companies reduce emissions through strong laws at no extra cost to ordinary people. As usual when the Greens get in positions of power they go soft on big business preferring the market approach to a directive approach.
In local government, the Greens have a strong presence in a number of inner-city municipalities. Yarra in Melbourne’s inner north is just one example. Since 2002 the Greens in Yarra have held the position of Mayor for a total of five years. The results for local people have been excessive rate rises and a nibbling away at services. The cost of Council services such as child care has also risen by over inflation rates.
The Greens pose as a left wing alternative at election time and when they seek financial support from the trade unions. In power however, their actions are very different. In the absence of a strong left voice in Australian politics let alone a strong leftwing party, the Greens can sometimes seems like the best on offer.
In reality the Greens are a pale imitation of what’s required. Because the Greens accept the rules of capitalism, when in power, they follow its logic and offer no alternative to the cuts of the major parties.
For now, with Australia escaping the economic crisis facing Europe, Japan and the US, the Greens can still masquerade as a progressive and even a left alternative. But this is a chimera. When the bosses twist the screws they will cave into their demands just as they did in Ireland.
What is needed in Australian politics is not another false dawn but a campaign to build a new mass left wing party that fights for anti-capitalist and socialist solutions to the issues facing working people.
By SP reporters