CAN THE GREENS AFFORD RICHARD DI NATALE ?
Most journalists, politicians and environmentally aware people might assume that when the leader of the Australian Greens gave a speech recently at the National Press Club the focus of his concerns would be the environment. Instead, we had a discourse which not only ignored the environment, but shafts the media establishment demanding that “ most Australians firmly believe we need a fiercely free and independent media to hold power to account. They just wish they had one.”
Hmmm. Similar words could be used to describe the Greens. Many Australians are desperate for a political party which recognises the urgent need to focus on major environment issues, fiercely free and independent, holding power to account ! The reality is that the Greens are as much a disappointment as the media Di Natale loves to criticize.
Recognising the influence of the National Press Club , Di Natale goes on to say:
The National Press Club describes itself as “an institution that reaches the influencers and decision makers of Australia; be they Federal or State Parliamentarians, political advisors, Government Heads of Departments, academics, legal, health and other professions, journalists including the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery”
Given the very serious environmental issues this ancient continent faces today – the looming death of the Great Barrier Reef, climate change impacts on forests, wildlife, oceans, marine biodiversity, the ‘energy crisis’ , not to mention Adani and the extraordinary influence of the resource industry, one would expect Di Natale would use this moment to take advantage of the Press Club’s ability to spread the word. To demand changes. To highlight the urgency of governments acting on climate change.
Nope. A search of Di Natale’s speech reveals the environment is mentioned once in passing at the end of his speech. This is an incredible situation. Only a few weeks ago, the Federal government released its State of the Environment Report 2016, a report which should be an injunction for any Green politician to raise major issues of concern over outcomes provided in the document.
Instead we have a push for a four day working week. Great. The likelihood of such a change happening is the present political climate is zero. The call for a shorter working week is coming from the same man who wants to bring in 50,000 immigrants a year. Apparently Di Natale hasn’t worked out how this number of people ( we already have 200,000 annually) will find work, much less how the infrastructure to accommodate this invasion will be managed with a four day working week. Under his leadership, many policies have been floated which have no chance of being implemented.
An examination of Di Natale’s media website provides further evidence of the increasing remoteness of environmental issues. Overdoses at the Sydney Myer Music Bowl, easier access to medicinal cannabis,non violent protest, Turnbull’s reshuffle, dental cuts, the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook report card, drug reform, condemnation of Trump. An endless list with barely a reference to the environment.
Nothing about the State of the Environment (SOR) 2016 Report.
In response to the SOR Report, a very short press release from acting environment spokesperson Senator Janet Rice focused on the Greens establishing a new independent environmental watchdog and a new Environment Act. Surely someone must have briefed Senator Rice on the numbers in the House and Senate and the total inability of the Greens to fulfil these promises.
When he became leader in 2015, Di Natale claimed that :” but above all else, he wants to get climate change back on track. “ If we don’t act on that, none of those things ( revenue, cutting spending) matter.”
In November last year, Di Natale had lost l6 staff out of a total office complement of 23 in the l8 months since he became party leader. According to the Sydney Morning Herald article, some in the party claimed the exodus was a result of a change in the strategic direction of the Greens.
In January, 2017 factional turmoil erupted with the partner of NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon publicly attacking the federal party, defending a hard-left faction openly antagonistic towards Di Natale.
His response – “ they should consider finding a new political home.” So much for democratic processes under the new leader.
Included in Di Natale’s speech are these prophetic words.
“ I refuse to be part of a generation of political leaders who will be the first in modern human history to hand down worse living conditions than we enjoyed.”
Well, here’s another prophecy . If Di Natale remains as leader of the Australian Greens with his focus on any issue but the environment, he will definitely be part of that generation of political leaders he holds in such contempt.