Faruqi: the Greens’ prospects in the Lower House

After the 2016 Federal Election, many of us find ourselves flapping around in the flotsam without even a clear electoral outcome to grab hold of. And while the Coalition cling to a razor-thin majority in the lower house, conservatives have been lashing the prime minister and threatening mutiny over the party’s electoral performance. The ALP might be tempted to celebrate, but in truth they achieved their second lowest primary vote in history, and face a changing electoral landscape, especially in inner Melbourne, where the Greens achieved big swings in several seats.

green march

Despite those swings, and although the decline in major party votes is welcome, the Greens failed to secure extra seats in the lower house, and in fact have lost one in the senate. Despite heavy resistance from pokies lobbyists who spent millions trying to talk voters out of it, the Xenophon team were one of the few clear winners this election, along with the Trumpesque alternative Right, and fans of Derryn Hinch.

Here I’ll digress. It stands to reason that voices within the broader Green movement are calling for a frank assessment of our strategy from here on in. Osman Faruqi is a former Greens staffer and online rapscallion whose Guardian columns might occasionally blur the lines of parody, but on this topic he’s fairly frank and not entirely off the mark. He is however somewhat Sydney-centric in his assessment of the Greens’ electoral chances. Lower house seats in inner Melbourne show a very clear long-term trend towards the Greens, the result of a lot of hard work here in Victoria over some decades.

Still, worth a gander imo:

Without some serious soul searching, the Greens will never move beyond the 10% plateau, by Osman Faruqi


A Trajectory of Denial

I initially wrote this for Alex Bhathal’s Facebook page, and it’s been one of her most popular posts. It’s also shown me how much resistance there can be to making an honest reckoning with our history, despite being in so many ways haunted by it. Even today, making the simplest acknowledgement of this history goes too far for certain individuals, who become significantly bothered online.

We should remember that this electorate is named after John Batman, a man who committed horrific crimes against Aboriginal people as a ‘bounty hunter’ in Tasmania before coming to Melbourne. Batman ‘purchased’ the ancestral lands of what now makes up Melbourne’s north in a meeting on the banks of the Merri Creek in 1835. The So-Called ‘Batman Treaty’ was not a treaty at all, but handed across a few blankets, tomahawks and knives in a transaction that Wurundjeri Elders believed to be a gift in exchange for passage, called ‘tandarrum’.

Here, just like everywhere in Australia, a treaty or treaties with our first nations never took place, making Australia unique in the world. It is only right that our local Wurundjeri people are fighting to rename Batman Park in Northcote, as well as the federal electorate of Batman. I think it would be a simple sign of respect for the deceit of the meeting that day in 1835.

I was flabbergasted when this fairly faithful potted history brought one person to the most extraordinary revisionist contortions about John Batman, of the ‘he was not such a bad bloke after all’ variety.

Thankfully comments like these are largely self-moderating.

The original article about the Wurundjeri campaign can be found here.

My New Look: Misty AF Eyes

Our esteemed Prime Minister can look at our immigration detention system without crying, he’s proud of that, and he’s warning others against the danger of ‘misty eyes’. I must now reflexively endorse misty af eyes, a’la the timeless Katherine Hepburn.

“We shouldn’t allow empathy to cloud our judgement”, says Turnbull.

I disagree. We should reject a martial vision of leadership where compassion is somehow a barrier to correct and proper judgement. Turnbull sounds like a grotesque Boer War general with a pencil moustache.

Where does this model of leadership actually lead us? Is cruelty ever a rational response?

Afterthought: Is Turnbull having a dig at Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young with this phrase? I’m thinking particularly about this event which is widely pilloried among right-wingers, usually in chauvinistic terms. I can think of few people who have shown as much courage and leadership on this issue in the Australian Parliament as Hanson-Young.

And can you imagine the outrage if a third party contractor paid by the Australian Government conducted spying operations on an ALP or Coalition senator abroad on official business? The AFP would have to show up with water cannons.