You are here

Are the Greens a real alternative?

. . .

. . .

Environmentalists might expect Green MLC Greg Barber, to back another environmentalist, Kelvin Thomson, rather than supply quotes that could make him out unfairly to be racist. Wedge Politics we don't need from Mr Barber MLC who represents the Northern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne in the Legislative Council at State level, which Kelvin Thomson represents in the Lower House at the Federal level. What's going on? Are the Greens for real?

Flattr this

Population and Environment and the Greens

Over the years I have had conversations with people about the riddles in the Greens' strangely contradictory environmental policies and their mysterious priorities. Yet there is something of the hearty gym mistress and the scout master about them that inspires us, Charlie-Brown-like, to trust them again and again at the polls. We think, they must mean well, or that they are better than the rest, or ...

Lassie come home

Recently someone said to me that maybe they are just out there to confuse us. Are they, he suggested, really working with the Libs and Labs and Big Media, as a kind of border collie, to keep us sheep from straying too far from the farm? The dog looks friendly and competent. It's cute. We tend to trust it because it doesn't actually own the farm. But it works for the farmer.

During the past two weeks my uncertainty has been overtaken by a feeling of déjà vu.

Wedge Politics we don't need; Mr Barber plays the race-card

Firstly, I read an article in the [growthist] Melbourne Times (Fairfax media), "Welcome to Australia - Now that's enough," by Bianca Hall, (Wed.3 Feb, 2010, p.4.).

The logic of this article is amazingly contrived and reads like an excuse to cite Greg Barber of the Greens apparently slurring the motives of Kelvin Thomson's 'Population Reform' as racist in a most unfair way:

'Mr Thomson argues net overseas migration should be dramatically cut from 2007-08 rate of 213, 461 to 70,000 migrants. To slow down the birth rate, Mr Thomson would cut family tax benefits to new recipients who had more than two children and redirect the money to education and workplace training.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows fertility rates are higher for Australian women born in largely Muslim countries, including Turkey and northern African countries. Almost 30 per cent of people in Mr Thomson' electorate were born in non-English-speaking countries.

State Greens MP Greg Barber said the plan threatened to target Muslim families.

"Whether Kelvin understands it or not his policy selectively targets predominantly Muslim people and punishes them for having that third child," Mr Barber said. "We know what gets birth rates down - the empowerment of women, with contraception, access to education and participation in the workforce."'

Frankly I was gobsmacked and furious. You might expect the developers to try something like this, or the Libs, but a Green? You never know, however, when there is a logical explanation, so I decided to write to Mr Barber himself and ask for it. I sent the following on 24-2-2010:

"Dear Greg,

I must congratulate you on your statements in parliament about water reproduced here about bulk water entitlements as well as on your stand against disempowering councils.

I have been a little shocked however to read you as quoted in the article I have reproduced below from the Melbourne Times.
It looks like the worst kind of wedge politics.

1. I would like to know whether you were correctly cited in this article.
2. [name withheld] tells me that you may have been cited out of context - if so, could you explain a little please?

3. This is what the article makes you look as if you are doing, in my opinion:

- trying to knock out ALP competition
- or doing the ALP a favour by playing the race card against someone who is leading the battle for the environment and democracy against overdevelopment, overpopulation, by tagging them with an unfair race-card where the (extremely corrupt and unfair) ALP may not dare to do so itself
- playing to a voting sector which is identifyable as muslim
- stimatising muslims specifically as overly productive of children, uneducated etc
- playing wedge politics
- maybe preparing a seat in the Labor party for yourself

I hope to hear that none of this is true and that you are instead cooperating as much as possible with Mr Thomson, who has shown great courage and leadership.
By the same token, if there is something unfair going on between the two of you and you were reacting, I am sympathetic to an explanation there.
I am trying not to make judgements without full inquiry.
I know how fraught politics and environmental movements are with this kind of thing.

Yours for reform in democracy, environment, population, land use planning and energy policy,

Sheila Newman"

Strange silence from Mr Barber

I never received a reply from Mr Barber, although I spoke to a person at his office several times and exchanged emails with that person, and was led to assume I would at any moment receive a reply. (See below for a very brief response to another voter.) I made it very clear that I was dead serious in seeking an explanation and also that I was absolutely furious that someone was apparently trying to pull the racist card to shut up Australia's perhaps single most courageous, ethical, effective and environmentally literate politician - an ALP long-stayer who was standing up for democracy, despite his party. I said that I would write an article on the subject and so it was important for him to defend himself.

Save the Bush Rally on 24 February

The same morning I wrote to Mr Barber, I travelled to the Save the Bush Rally which took place on the steps of Melbourne Parliament. It was here that I finally lost patience with the Greens.

Speakers included Sue Pennicuick, Greens MLC, Rosemary West, of the Green Wedges, Colin Long, Greens Upper House Candidate, Damon Anderson, of Coomoora Reserve, and Gillian Collins, of the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve. (Were all of them prospective candidates?) All made speeches about how development was being pushed through by Mr Brumby's government and how this was threatening bushland and how the Greens would provide more public transport.

Complicit Silence on how Overdevelopment has been politically contrived

No scheduled speaker mentioned why more roads or public transport are necessary. The silence on how their necessity had been politically contrived was absolutely deafening. The Greens' failure to expose how the Government is driving the overpopulation it is using as an excuse to force undemocratic development only protects this gigantic dystopic rort.

Sadly, not one Green said anything to the effect of, "We will expose this dishonesty and try to stop the overpopulation of Melbourne."

I know that Gillian Collins and Rosemary West are fully aware of the population growth corporate connection. Yet only one woman, Mara from Banyule, even mentioned that the bush is threatened by population growth. All the honour of the day for honesty and relevance goes to her. She was not even on the written Agenda. She should have been writing it.

The 'green' silence from the rest of them on the government elephant-in-the-room push for overpopulation seemed nothing short of shameful cowardice or cynical complicity. The population cat is well out of the bag, yet it seems that the Greens, of all parties, want to stuff it back in again - at the peril of our wildlife and democracy.

Why? What have they got to gain by protecting the bad guys?

I was furious that I had travelled from an outer suburb and ruined my day for more profitable pursuits only to hear a line-up of wanna-be-politicians using a captive audience to monger motherhood statements which would mostly sit happily on the billboards of new estates and the websites of corporate water-speculators. Many of those assembled in support of the speakers were battle-scarred environmental fighters who remained quiet while the glorified clichés were trotted out for the television cameras. Some dedicated naturalists and ecologists held banners and filmed the event, all of them waiting for some leadership.

They got nothing.

A trial of patience; an abuse of supporters' time

When Sue Pennicuick self-congratulatingly asked the crowd who they were going to vote for (meaning the Greens), an angry spectator called out, "Kelvin Thomson!" There was a murmur of approval from the long-suffering audience.

When Sue Pennicuick self-congratulatingly asked the crowd who they were going to vote for (meaning the Greens), an angry spectator called out, "Kelvin Thomson!"

Another spectator handed round stickers with "Say No to Melbourne at 5 Million" and someone else was distributing leaflets exposing the identities of organisations that push population growth, which included numerous developers and the Victorian Government with its site, "". The audience gratefully accepted the leaflets.

There was no-one else there, apart from the speakers, who wanted to keep the lid on the scandal of the population-growth lobby and the government's role in it. A brilliant opportunity was lost to educate the press on the steps and the pedestrians watching from the other side of Spring Street about why the government is corrupt and how the government pushes population in cahoots with the developers, then makes laws to force Victorians to accommodate the interests of this group. (See the Brumby government's links with the Property Council of Australia and the Live in Victoria Government website to attract immigrants at "Living in a Destruction Zone" and Minister Justin Madden's increasingly barefaced attempts to overturn any democratic restraint on the government's development despotism.)

Political corruption in Australia

I rode home on the same train as one of the wildlife activists. On that train there was also a man who had just published a dictionary of Australian political terms. He was a born and bred ALP member and I asked him if he had ever heard of Labor Resources or Labor Holdings. He hadn't. I told him about them. It seemed to me that a faint glint of horror animated his misty eyes for a moment, but he quickly suppressed it.

"They all do it", he replied, like a long-suffering adult on the antics of teenagers. I half expected him to add, "But they will grow out of it."

Yes, all the parties do it. "It" is the use of holding companies for donations which are then declared as coming from the holding companies rather than from their many corporate donors. This is a problem but it is the amount and the kind of assets that the ALP holds at state and Federal level plus their political power and their demonstrated abuse of it which is frightening even to the Liberal-National Party.

I tried to describe how the scale of the corrupt system was beyond any before and now grotesquely magnified by the ALP's dominance over every parliament in Australia. "They are nothing like the Labor Party is supposed to be anymore," I added.

"Oh, but they're better than the alternative," he intoned, reciting his true believer catechism, with a smug smile.

"It's like a religion," said the onlooking wildlife activist. "They are brainwashed from birth."

Politics as religion

She is right. For many people, politics is the same as a religion. You just don't question the church that you were born to: Labor or Liberal: each is better than the alternative.

Or, if you're a bit rebellious, there is the alternative alternative religion - The Greens.

But it seems to me now that they are all different brands selling the same thing. They are all selling overpopulation to the masses, but each of them is selling a different brand. The Labor Party is selling overpopulation as economic growth. The Liberals would be selling it this way but they cannot out-do the ALP at the moment. The Greens are selling overpopulation as Public Transport and the Socialist Alliance is selling it as bicycles. But they are all trying to sell it to us. Like Mr Madden and Mr Brumby and Mr Rudd, they aren't really interested in democracy and what we, the electorate think. They are all seeking niches within the territory defined by the corporate growth lobby.

Mainstream Media role in our loss of democracy

For many years now the extent of this collusion has been kept safely away from public knowledge by the commercial and the public media in Australia. Indeed it looks to me as if the commercial media - notably the Murdoch media, but including the Fairfax media - have been able to shape the policies and and promote the people who have come to form our useless political parties and the corrupt ideology of material progress.

The structure of print, television and radio media has permitted ownership in a few hands which have dominated public information and allowed the entrenchment of corporate interests over democratic rights. For me it is frankly impossible now to see the difference between the Government and the commercial Property, Banking and Media groups (all interchangeable themselves), especially with Stephen Mayne's uncovering of Labor Party investments cultivated with Wayne Swann and Kevin Rudd working for Wayne Goss whilst in opposition in Queensland. Yes, Mayne's investigations were published in the mainstream, but the mainstream doesn't connect the big dots and it won't effectively publicise any alternative parties or changes to the system which might combat the rot.

The situation is like the one in the 16th century, where the Holy Roman Empire had evolved from the Roman Empire and controlled kings, public ideology and institutions. The situation seemed utterly hopeless until the rise of a new technology - printing.

Who will fight the Evil Empire again?

In the 16th century Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the Church door at Wittenburg. Soon copies were printed and spread all over Germany.

Unfortunately, with the discovery of technologies for smelting iron directly with coal, new kinds of institutions arose - those of capitalist corporations. The corporations built towns and re-organised people as anonymous cogs, with loyalty to employers overwhelming loyalty to family and friends, isolated from any true community or personal independence. Gradually the corporations were able to dominate human institutions all over again, under the ideology of 'Progress', (See for instance, "Courier-Mail beats up on public for complaining about cost of 'progress'"), ironically taken from protestant values.

Things may be changing again, however. Today the 'common people' - as long as they can read and write and have access to computers - may be able to take back power from the Dark Towers (to use Tolkien's ever-useful terminology for the rise of corporate control) via a new technology - and that is the Internet.

It seems however that we should not rely on the Greens to challenge the dark commercial hegemony of the overpopulation and development lobby.

If Australians cannot place their faith in the Greens, recently some real dissidents have arrived and posted something new on the church doors of the Internet: Kelvin Thomson - a brave leader in waiting for the Labor Party or for a new party or a man who may lose ALP-preselection for his courage and hence could eventually run for the Senate on Mr Barber's turf; the Stable Population Party, the New Australia Party, and the Animal Justice Party.

I will be happy to be shown to be wrong and anyone who feels misrepresented by this article is very welcome to post an article in reply or to comment. I am happy to publish any response from Greg Barber. I will be more than happy to eat every word of criticism here of Greens and speakers at the rally if only I receive an explanation. is a free press and we welcome true debate.

See also: Greens support Madden's Bad Law VC 71 in black week for Victoria, Australia of 11 Oct 10, "Tasmanian Greens and the terror of coalitions" of 24 Mar 10 on Online Opinion and related discussion forum.


If Kelvin Thomson did not mention Muslims, how are they being targeted by his policy speeches? Immigrants share our common land and they vote, and they are thus part of our common concerns.

We are being manipulated and confused by "racist" accusations and political correctness to keep us silent on immigration issues. Our unhealthy population growth is not about ethnicity or religion, but about numbers.

Most of our present population growth is from immigration, and a large part of our "natural" growth.

Although it may appear that Australia has lots of space, our fertile,
inhabitable areas are fast being paved and cleared. Our wildlife losses are the most extensive in the world, and we morally can't just continue to exterminate other species in the quest for the allusive "prosperity" a higher population is supposed to bring.

Religious concepts and teachings should always be questioned and referenced with scholastic learning and spiritual insight, and not followed rigidly and blindly. So it should be with politics.

We are being manipulated by the greed of leaders for a bigger tax-base, and pro- growth-lobby supporters with political donations.
Unless the Greens can draw the dots and understand the symptoms of environmental degradation, due to destructive economic activities such as logging and wildlife habitat destruction, and climate change are the result of unsustainable human numbers, then they don't deserve the "green" vote.

I figure that 99.7% of the world's population lives outside Australia. On the face of it, whatever we do in this magnificent country is not going to change the rest of the world very much.

Tasmanians have a state election on 20th March. A recent poll has them just 1% behind Labor with the possibility of Greens' representation increasing by 50% and holding the balance of power. Our current team of four is absolutely and consistently magnificent.

There is bad history here. To strangle Green representation in Parliament, the Labor and Liberal parties (we call them the LibLabs because they've become identical evils) maliciously conspired to reduce MHA numbers from 35 to 25 for the wicked purpose of minimising Green representation. This devilment succeeded at the time, but the plot gradually backfired with too few ministers available to do the work.

If you knew of even some of the corruption and ineptitude that's been characteristic of Tasmanian politics under recent Labor governments (forestry issues being the deadliest poison in the well) you would do handsprings of joy at news of this progress, but Vivienne's final comment (above) that the Greens don't deserve the Green vote is like saying that humans don't deserve to breathe.

The Tasmanian Greens most definitely deserve the vote of every caring person in the state.

I love my Greens!

Peter Bright

Hi Peter,

My article is about the Victorian Greens mostly. Was that not clear? General comments about illogical policies do apply to the Federal Greens, however. Above all I was appalled at Greg Barber's apparent use of shamefully unfair tactics to try to bring down someone who is much greener than any of the Greens - the Victorian Greens, at any rate. The major criticism is that the Greens in Victoria absolutely fail to criticise the undemocratic and dangerous rate of population growth when they often have the opportunity and when they run no risk of opprobrium, now that Kelvin Thomson has shown the way. Instead one of them has cast aspersions on Thomson! This can only benefit developers, banks and general corruption.

I agree totally with you that if we are not green, we are dead, but what I am doing is questioning the sincerity of the Greens (mostly in Victoria). I am suggesting that they are using 'Green' as a brand-name - rather like Peter Garratt seems to have in his long career. Perhaps, just because people call themselves 'Green' we should not just accept that they are green. Any more than we should accept that the Labor Party puts the working person first, just because that's what they once did.

The Greens need to defend themselves against what Barber has done to their reputation (which he has still not explained) and against what my article says. I wish they would. Once again, though, the silence is deafening whilst speaking volumes.

Barber needs to apologise to Kelvin Thomson and to the Greens and to their Greens supporters.

The Greens need to make a statement. Or their silence will suggest that they are not Green; that they are simply looking for support from public transport engineering and manufacture, (another facet of the corporate growth model) whilst wearing a false green badge.

Please do write an article about the Tasmanian Greens, Peter.

Forestry workers heckle Greens:
ABC Online: today 10 March:
"The Tasmanian Greens have been targetted by forest protesters at the party's official campaign launch.
About 100 forest workers were waiting outside a Hobart hotel as the Leader Nick McKim arrived for the launch".

The power of the logging industry is far too extensive and invasive.
The forestry workers say Greens policies would see job losses in the forestry industry in Tasmania.  Considering that we have trees in old-growth forests in Tasmania and elsewhere, how are we supposed to really care about their hip pockets?   People can relocate, retrain and be resourced in other industries. 
Trees up to hundreds of years old cannot be replaced overnight, despite how "sustainable" the logging is supposed to be!
As our population climbs, more natural resources such as forests and grasslands, will be considered as assets to plunder for economic benefits!  Our natural heritage, and ecosystems, are continually under threat from industry and developments.
We are already world-leaders in wildlife extermination, and logging native forests destroys their homes and robs them of habitat. Already Tasmania is famous for killing off the Tasmanian Tigers, and the Tasmanian Devils are under threat.
Unless we declare all our old-growth forests and remaining native vegetation as part of our national park system, the logging mafia will continue to threaten, bully and dominate our State governments.
Without The Greens and The Wilderness Society, and other conservation groups, Tasmania's history of violence and environmental vandalism would go unchecked.

Can you let us know what the Greens are doing for the trees at the moment, how things are working out in Parliament and from satellite? Could we have a report? And, most importantly, are they doing anything to speak out about population growth in Tasmania (which has recently increased)?

The Tasmanian Greens can represent themselves far better than any article written by me.

While unfamiliar with what is going on in other states, I strongly suspect that Tasmania's Greens are ahead of those on the "mainland." That's the term we use for you lot "up there." Tasmania is where the worldwide Green movement started and so this lead is what one would expect. Way down here half way to the south pole, that's what I believe we have.

The leader of the Tasmanian Greens is Mr Nick McKim. His Forest Transition Strategy may be accessed and printed by clicking the link at the foot of the Tasmanian Times article here: and his Campaign Launch for the Tasmanian state election of 20th March may be read here:

In the same way that the names Greg Barber and Kelvin Thomson mean absolutely nothing to Tasmanians, so also we in Tasmania cannot expect ready interstate recognition of names that are well known in this state. My feeling is that each of us in our own states have plenty going on within its borders to keep our attention focused on what we can handle. I cannot imagine myself commenting on doings in other states while I'm so ignorant about what's happening there. Tasmanian doings alone keep me well occupied, and there's lots that needs attention.

I realise that some people judge the Greens by their representatives, but this is short-sighted. The bigger picture is that humanity itself must protect the natural environment everywhere if we want the amazing natural environment to protect us. The situation is really quite serious and it's pleasing to see Sheila's acceptance of my stark "If we're not Green, we're dead" prediction.

Increasingly desperate circumstances require of us that as well as dealing with our local circumstances we must be aware of the wider picture too - and vote accordingly. I have little tolerance for those obsessed with trivia such as minor flaws in a representative's personality.

Look beyond that to what's coming if we don't.

Peter Bright

I have to say, I found Nick McKim very unimpressive when I saw him on TV a few days ago.

His main pitch appeared to be that he thought it likely that Labor would form some kind of a coalition with them after the election.

If I was given any air time I would be using every available second to convince the electorate of the awfulness of both Labor and the Liberal.

If they truly believe in themselves and truly believe themselves to be better than both the Liberals and Labor they should be campaigning to win in their own right and aiming for an outright Parliamentary majority instead of limiting their aspirations to be becoming a junior partner with either one of the two pro-corporate parties of ecological vandalism.

Only if, after the elections, they find they don't have an outright majority should they even contemplate coming to any arrangements with either of the major parties.

Maybe this impression I have arrived on the basis of a few bits of an interviews is unfair. Please feel welcome to try to convince me otherwise.

Yes James, distantly evaluating a person's capability from small snippets of possibly biased information and presentations certainly has much potential for unfairness. Indeed without looking deeper it's often plain foolish.

I imagine that it's unlikely you'll shift to Tasmania but if you did I feel sure that you'd find Nick McKim in particular, and the Tasmanian Greens in general, so impressive and capable that you'd join the party within a month. I'm sure you'd quickly become a valued asset appreciated by us all.

In the awesome Andrew Wilkie we have a one-time Green now standing as an Independent. His chances of election on March 20th are not high, but in Tasmania's wonderful Hare-Clarke system of voting I can afford to give this admirable man my first vote knowing that if he does not make it then my vote will slide, at full power, to my adored Tasmanian Greens. For the first time ever my second preference will go to Socialist Alliance while knowing that they don't have a hope - and again my vote will slide, at full power, to my Greens. Why do this? It's because the Right is wrong for these difficult times, and the Left is right - well, more-so than the reverse.

The Tasmanian Greens most definitely want government here and they are pursuing it diligently, vigorously and well, and if only more Tasmanians would think rationally then they'd surely get it.

We have indolent, lax, uninformed and ignorant people down here - as everywhere of course: people who don't think, and who don't want to think; people who don't know - and who don't want to know, and those who don't care, and don't want to care. In my opinion these oafs should not have the vote. In a democracy they hold back progress because of their numbers.

Our island status, our small population, our isolation from mainland events, our history and other factors ensure that things are different down here, but you'd probably have to live here for some years to become fully attuned.

Peter Bright


Below is the interview, I was referring to. It is from the story "Tough fight ahead for Labor in Tasmania" of 24 Feb 10. Whilst McKim has been given very little time, the message he gave was not the one I believe he should have given:

ANTONY GREEN: Labor is on the nose after its last 12 years in office. You don't see sort of massive swings that would put the Liberals in Government. The only alternative in the meantime, with the Greens holding their ground, is a hung Parliament.

NICK MCKIM, GREENS LEADER: These are out pledges and how we're going to deliver them...

MARTIN CUDDIHY: If the Greens can add to the four seats they already hold, party leader Nick McKim could play political kingmaker.

NICK MCKIM: The stability that the Tasmanian community wants is best achieved by a constructive, co-operative, negotiated agreement between the Greens and one or the other of the other two parties.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: During the campaign, Labor and the Liberals have publicly ruled out any deal with the Greens.

DAVID BARTLETT: Because a back room deal with the Greens is a deal with the devil, and I'm am't - am not going to sell my soul for the sake of remaining in power.

WILL HODGMAN: If David Bartlett and Nick McKim want to go off and strike deals between themselves, that's a matter for them, but I won't.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Nick McKim believes things will change once the votes have been cast.

NICK MCKIM: I think there's every chance that David and Will will pick up the phone and have a chat.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Even though David Bartlett is insisting he won't negotiate, he's admitted he will try and cling to power even if there's no majority.

Would you consider governing from minority?

DAVID BARTLETT: Well, yes. I believe we're ten years through a 20-year transformation of our economy and of our community, and we need to keep that momentum going.
(end of interview)

Note: Antony Green is the leading ABC commentator on elections, David Bartlett is the Labor Premier, Will Hodgman is the Liberal Leader and Martin Cuddihy is the reporter.

As I wrote, if McKim truly believed in the Greens, he would not have limited the Greens goals in advance to simply becoming a junior partner to either of the two parties of environmental destruction.

He should be telling Tasmanians that the Greens, rather than either Labor or the Liberals should be the governing party. Whether or not the majority of Tasmanians come to accept that view is another matter, but they should at least give it a try.

No James, Nick should not be telling the electorate that the Tasmanian Greens should become the next governing political party because even though he and I both know it should, alas - it's simply not going to happen. Yet.

Such promotional arrogance would somewhat compare with Peter Bright (that's me) going about the place declaring that he should be the next Prime Minister of Australia. I've not done the maths on this probability but I rather fancy that I'll be staying in my pensioner unit for the time being.

Nick is a realist and he knows that Tasmanians are not yet ready to promote the Greens into government in their own right. I think it's inevitable that this will happen before too long. The main two parties have become living fossils.

In any case everyone would already concede that the Tasmanian Greens, merely by standing for the job, quite obviously feel that they should be the next government.

Here's some interesting news: My own electorate of Denison attracts the highest Green vote in the country. If the nation followed suit then Australia would be 40% Green.

Oh joy!

Peter Bright

I was aware of this argument, Peter. It will be interesting to see what James has to say.
On another aspect of what you have written, that the two main parties are fossils - unfortunately they are kept in there as the only options by the mainstream media. Their success at the polls has nothing to do with their appeal to the voters. The commercial media and the ABC only publicise the well-known options, apart from tiny tid-bits about a few others. It looks like a partnership between commerce and government and the opposition to keep alternating ALP and Liberals from election to election. This time, though, because the ALP has become so rich and owns so much influential stock, as well as dominating every parliament in Australia, it may be that the Liberal Party and the Nationals will simply cease to exist, unless they can find another niche which benefits the ALP enough for it to allow them to remain in order to preserve the ongoing illusion of a political choice. What will happen to the Greens in this scenario? I say that it seems like they have found their commercial lobby-group niche in public transport. My interpretation is that they have agreed to be behave in a manner which will support the status quo of constnat upward growth in population matters in order to be allowed to keep that niche.

Hope someone proves me wrong.

What is the antidote?

It is the alternative free media - the internet - but not The Age or The Australian on-line or the ABC or TV channels internet, and not those obviously well-financed alternatives which have links back to major corporations. It has to be obviously diverse, like and without links to government or corporations. Indimedia was once a great hope but seems to have been captured by people from the Socialist Alliance, at least in Victoria. This was certainly the situation a few years ago and it simply became impossible for people to post anything that the S.A. didn't like.

The great battle is to educate Australians in all walks of life to stop trusting the mainstream media and start contributing to - with their opinions and articles and by passing articles along - the peoples' internet to make it theirs.

That way real news and real political choices can reach the voter and then the voter's vote will become valuable to the voter and not just to ALP/Lib.


Why should it be arrogant for the Tasmanian Greens to tell Tasmanian voters that they are worthy of forming Government?

What seems arrogant to me is that the Labor Government, with its appalling record of having corruptly tried to ram through approval of the pulp mill and with its overall ecological vandalism should presume to deserve the support of the Tasmanian people.

And it would be not that much less arrogant for the Opposition Liberal Party who has not offered any decent alternative policies to those of the Labor Government (I am asuming that the Liberal Party down there behaves much the same as the Liberal National Party up here in Queensland) to presume to be entitled to form Government.

If the Tasmanian Greens don't believe themselves more capable of running Tasmania better than either of those alternatives, and if they don't believe that they can convince ordinary Tasmanians of that in a fair and open debate, then I think they should take a long hard look at themselves.

If they did, they just might find that the reason that they don't believe themselves to be more capable is that they don't have policies that address the bread-and-butter concerns of ordinary Tasmanians.

If they are like the Queensland Greens and the Greens nationally, they probably lack the kind of policies that would attract the support the support of ordinary working Australian.

In Queensland at the 2009 state elections, their policies seemed to amount to not much more than saving the odd rainforest, stopping the Traveston Dam and throwing a few pemnies towards solar energy, domestic rainwater tanks and public transport. They did not mention privatisation and failed to move in to occupy any of the ground that had been abandoned by the Labor party to suit its corporate masters in recent decades.

In an e-mail, sent over one and a half years earlier on 29 August 2007 to the then intending Federal Queensland Greens Senate candidate Larissa Waters, I suggested that the Greens adopt such policies:

Great media release! I aim to put it on my web at site ASAP.

Can I urgently suggest that the Greens adopt a few polices:

1. Encouragement of Open Source software. All govt bodies to use Open Office, Linux and BSD rather than Micro$oft products. It would save us easily many tens of millions each year.

2. Adoption of No-fault insurance such as exists in NZ ad such as Whitlam tried to introduce in 1975.

3. Set up a Peoples' Bank to Stop abuses of public by commercial banks. (In other words set up a new 'Commonwealth Bank')

4. set up a Government owned Insurance company.

5. Oppose privatisation of Austrtalia Post and Medibank Private.

6. Opose privatisation of publlicly owned land

7. More Government owned housing.

I had also raised population on other occasions, although not on that particular occasion.

The list was far from comprehensive. They were just what came to my mind on the spur of the moment.

Any one of these policies is self-evidently reasonable and just and could have easily attracted the support of the majority of electors and have instantly broadened the electoral appeal of the Greens.

But neither Larissa Waters nor the Greens acted upon my suggestion Instead, they offered up a handful of policies that could only hope to rectify about 2% of what is wrong with our society and which ignore the other 98%.

Essentially the same happened at the Brisbane City Council elections of 2008 and the Queensland state elections of 2009.

By failing to offer real choice, the Greens not only harm their own electoral chances, but I consider them to be behaving undemocratically. They are, by failing to offer electors policies to roll back the 'free market' economic neo-liberal counter-revolution that has been imposed on Australia these past three decades, in practice indicating their acceptance of those undemocratically imposed policies.

Should it therefore have been any surprise that Queensland voters did not flock to the Greens in numbers sufficient to get Larissa elected?

If what is true of the Queensland Greens is also true of the Tasmanian Greens, then, perhaps Nick McKim's lack of self-confidence may be warranted after all, but surely that could be rectifed if Nick McKim had the will to do so.

The Queensland Greens comprise a separate entity to the Tasmanian Greens and I feel that it's unwise for those living interstate to compare the two, especially when the truth about one is simply not known.

Nick McKim is not the slightest bit lacking in self-confidence and the Tasmanian Greens always behave democratically.

This contrasts markedly with Tasmania's Labor Party which is secretive, deceit-ridden, ignorant, unskilled, unlearned, incompetent, uncaring and thuggish, and with our Liberal Party which is quietly complicit in Labor's wrongdoing.

It's only the Tasmanian Greens which offer the opportunity for real change down here, and that party's four parliamentary representatives are outstanding citizens. I am awed by their talents and their ability to nut things out, and for the Tasmanian Greens to present carefully crafted policies that indicate incisive perspicacity of the first order. I really don't know how so few achieve so much. It's mind boggling.

Unfortunately there's lots of malicious slander about, particularly from those making gain from Tasmania's devastating forestry industry, and it appears to me that the majority of our citizens is still not suffering enough under Labor to warrant giving serious thought to the state's direction. There's never been a better opportunity for real change than now.

Reports that other states' Greens' party personalities appear flawed do sadden me, but to compare our magnificent Tasmanian Greens with such seems to me a most unwise comparison.

I suggest that a years' residence here would prove my case.

Peter Bright

Peter, you may well be right about the Tasmanian Greens.

If so, then I still see no justification for Nick McKim limiting, in advance, the goals of the Greens to being a junior partner with either the Liberals or Labor.

By doing so, it seems to me, they not only undermine their own campaign, but also confer undeserved legitimacy on the major parties.

Why not cite examples from or

James, down here in Tasmania there's no concept anywhere, either within the Tasmanian Greens or outside it, that this political party is limiting itself, in advance or at any other time, to being a junior partner to the Labor, the Liberal, or any other parties. I find this notion quite absurd. It should be self-evidently illogical.

This is like saying that a child is happily limiting itself to childhood and doesn't have any interest in growing. What would be the point in the Tasmanian Greens limiting their now-predictable advancement in any way at all?

One of the best ways for interstate readers to learn what's really happening in Tasmania (where the capitalist press, a propaganda arm of the forestry industry, suppresses so much) is to dive into that vigorously effervescent fount of vital information known as Tasmanian Times, an online forum at

Anyone can go there, watch and read for a while to get the hang of it, and then when they feel the urge, have their own say.

Tasmanian Times is growing at an astounding rate and is exponentially attracting valuable contributions from some of the state's most erudite and worthy citizens.

I think you might be happy to known that I've repeatedly urged its Editor, Mr Lindsay Tuffin, to emulate the efficient presentation and navigational style of We Can Do Better.

Peter Bright

The splendid election result for the Tasmanian Greens, and its inspiring leader Nick McKim's magnificent speech late on election day, will please many Tasmanians and people of goodwill everywhere.

With the vote count not quite complete I predict even better results when the final count is in. We'll know in a fortnight.

Watch this video, and feel the shivers of joy run up and down your spine ...

Peter Bright

Well, congratulations to the Tasmanian Greens and to you Peter.
This is what I gather from the ABC video: This is the largest ever vote for the Greens in Tasmania and in any state or territory and no party now dominates Tasmania; all three must cooperate to govern.

Is that correct? I cannot find any details yet.


Your interim evaluation is sound, Sheila. Tasmanians breathe better today.

In my electorate of Denison, traditionally securing the highest Green vote in the whole nation, the Greens' Cassy O'Connor polled more votes than Labor Premier, David Bartlett.

The Greens' progress down here is wonderful to behold and its leader's election night speech was most uplifting. For reader convenience I've presented below some comment from here

Peter Bright

... Nick McKim said a great weight had been lifted off Tasmanians.

Tasmanians had deliberately chosen to elect a Parliament with no party in absolute power.

“What an opportunity for a new era of constructive politics ... not to advance their own interests, but to advance Tasmania.”

He said it was an awesome responsibility on party leaders to work constructively and cooperatively to deliver accountability and responsibility and deliver good outcomes for Tasmanians.

Traditional parties had maintained that majority was always good and minority always bad.

These people denied Tasmanians. Tasmanians had moved past that tired old view. “The challenge now is for political leaders to move with the Tasmanian people.”

His hand was extended to Labor and Liberal parties. “The ball is now in their court.”

It was an historic result for the Greens.

“And it’s an historic result for Tasmanian Greens ... the largest ever vote in Tasmania or in any state or territory.

“This is a result for the New Believers.

“We are humbled and we will keep out feet firmly on the ground.

“We have listened to Tasmanians.”

Green values were mainstream values. They were sick of dodgy processes (pulp mill); there was a demand for transparency.

It was a new dawn in Tasmanian politics. “We accept the trust you have placed in us; we will not let you down.”

Peter, if I was in Tasmania, I probably would vote Green, because it seems that there are no other alternatives and an outside chance that they may actually mean well (in contrast to the Liberals and Labor).

I have voted Greens for years and I urge people to vote Greens where there are no other better alternatives, which is the case in most electorates (except in Wills, where I would obviously urge people to give their primary votes to Kelvin Thomson -- both a true Labor candidate and a true environmentalist).

Nevertheless, the fact the Greens, in four elections I have closely observed -- The 2004 Federal elections, the 2007 Federal elections, the 2008 Brisbane City Council elections, and the 2009 Queensland State elections -- have failed to substantially improve their vote or representation, in spite of the obvious glaring deficiencies of the alternatives, suggests to me that those wielding power within the Greens don't seem to even want them to succeed. They actually seem to prefer the Greens to remain indefinitely, at best, tiny ineffectual rumps in all of our Parliaments, than to actually put themselves in positions where they could actually do some good.

How could they have possibly failed in 2007 to pick up one Senate seat in Queensland in spite of Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett losing his? They also lost a NSW Senator (Kerry Nettle) and failed to pick up one in Victoria. As a result they don't even comprise a true balance of power, often having to rely on the vote of Family First Senator Steven Fielding to hope to achieve a bare majority on, for example the repeal of the "Work Choices" laws.

In the 2009 state elections, they refused to act upon my suggestion, which I put personally to Bob Brown, Drew Hutton and Ronan Lee (their one sitting member who had only months before defected to them from the Labor Party) on the day before the early elections were announced that they campaign against privatisation.

That left me as the one candidate in all of Queensland that attempted to raise privatisation as an election issue and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I was ignored by the newsmedia.

If the Greens had bothered to raise that one issue could have made all the difference to the Greens' own fortunes as well as to the people of Queensland who are now looking on as helpless spectators as the Bligh Government proceeds to flog off $15 billion worth of their property against the objections of 80% of the Queensland public.

Instead, the Greens achieved a worse result than in 2006. Bob Brown claimed it was an improvement (only just), but that did not take into account that in 2009, they contested every seat for the first time. It didn't take into account that having a sitting member of Parliament should have raised the profile of the Greens.

Give that 59% of the public opposed the Labor Party and 59% also opposed the Liberal National Party and hence 18% were seeking alternatives to both at the outset of the campaign, this was a particularly dismal return on all the hard efforts of Greens members.

Whether the Greens perpetual failure to meet the expectations of their supporters is intended, the fact remains that they have given us no reason to expect that they will do significantly better from now on.

Either the Greens will have to finally take a long hard look at themselves and change themselves accordingly or get out of the way of others that want to show a way forward out of the rut that Australian politics has been stuck in since at least 1983.

I emailed Greg Barber about this article, he did reply. His response has not raised my esteem of him.

he says:

I'm simply trying to have a debate about the most
effective and fairest way to do it.

Does anyone have any evidence about Greg Barber's public utterances on the population debate?

Or is his only contribution are the quotes in the "Melbourne Times"?

Below is Greg Barber's email response to my email, which includes my original email.

Well, everybodys been calling for a debate on population.
And I'm not even debating whether we need to reduce population. I'm simply trying to have a debate about the most effective and fairest way to do it. And many of kelvins solutions are ill thought out and thereby do damage to your cause. Cheers greg

Greg Barber MLC

State Member of Parliament for Northern Metropolitan Region
Suite G-01 60 Leicester Street Carlton VIC 3053
P: 03 9348 2622
F: 03 9348 2699
E: greg.barber[AT]

From: Ilan G [xxxx]
Sent: 03/09/2010 10:24 PM ZE11

To: Greg Barber
Subject: CanDoBetter Article

Dear Mr Barber,


I am writing to you to find out your response to an article posted at:

Specifically, Sheila Newman has emailed you asking questions regarding an article that appeared in the Melbourne Times (Fairfax media), "Welcome to Australia - Now that's enough," by Bianca Hall, (Wed.3 Feb, 2010, p.4.).

her email:

> Dear Greg,


(See above, in article, for text of letter.)

> Yours for reform in democracy, environment, population, land use planning and
energy policy,
> Sheila Newman
she goes on further in her article...
> Strange silence from Mr Barber
> I never received a reply from Mr Barber, although I spoke to a person at his office several times and exchanged emails with that person, and was led to assume I would at any moment receive a reply. I made it very clear that I was dead serious in seeking an explanation and also that I was absolutely furious that someone was apparently trying to pull the racist card to shut up perhaps Australia's single most courageous, ethical, effective and environmentally literate politician - an ALP long-stayer who was standing up for democracy, despite his party. I said that I would write an article on the subject and so it was important for him to defend himself. (See also above, in main article.)

I vote Green, not out of my fondness for all their policies or what they stand for on various issues, but because there is no real alternative to the big 2. As Sheila Newman says "I know how fraught politics and environmental movements are with this kind of thing.", but if you can't find common ground with Kelvin Thomson's ideas there is absolutely no hope for Australia at all.

We are faced with the looming catastrophes of climate change and peak oil, and you find time to criticise someone who is finally publicly stating things that are absolutely rational in light of these serious threats. Kelvin Thomson's plan are in the best interest of the vast majority of Australians and the environment, they are exactly the sort of thing we should be hearing from the "GREEN" party.

Please explain your position regarding Kelvin Thomson's ideas and the nature of your quotes that appeared in the Melbourne Times.



I believe I heard that the Greens are now calling for a national inquiry on population (although can't find any corroborating information on Google News, my Greens media releases or on the Greens website). All the same, if I heard right, it's about time, but why couldn't this have been said years ago?

If so, how confident can we be that the Greens have finally grasped that population growth is the most critical of all environmental questions and will treat it, from now on, with the seriousness it deserves?

If past experience is any guide, this will be forgotten again in a matter of days.

Perhaps, this time, the Greens 'rediscovery' of the population question will prove tobe a little more than yet another flash in the pan.

Even so, it remains to be seen if it is actually from conviction or a hasty attempt to be being seen to be doing something arising from the louder voices that are being raised on population by Kelvin Thomson and William Bourke, Founder of the Stable Population Party of Australia in his Sydney Morning Herald article "How many is too many? Australia's people problem".

I agree with Sheila that a 21.3% vote is impressive and that the Tasmanian Greens deserve our congratulations.

This result appears to bear out that Peter's estimation of the Tasmanian Greens was better than my own (although not of the Greens in other states and at the Federal Level).

That said, the result would still seem not inordinately large, given the abysmal choice on offer from the two major parties. That the combined vote of the pro-corporate anti-environmentalist Labor and Liberal parties is still 76.2% is of concern.

If, you are wholly right about the Greens, Peter, then this result could be the beginning of a new era in Tasmanian politics in which the Tasmanian Greens can begin to show both Tasmania and Australia (including the Australian Greens) the way forward (and, hopefully, will have a more enduring and beneficial effect than when the Greens last won the balance of power in Tasmania back in 1989).

Of course, we must give the Tasmanian Greens all possible encouragement and support in their fight to save Tasmania's remaining old growth forests and to stop the pulp mill, which will still be far from easy, when they comprise a minority of 5 members against the combined 20 members of the two major parties.

It would be appreciated if you could keep us up-to-date with further developments down there, Peter.