The Australian Greens are deeply worried about the civilian death toll in Israel and Palestine, and urge both sides of the conflict to put down their weapons and respect a ceasefire.
“The human suffering is too great and the continued recourse to violence has done nothing for peace,” Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
“We support a two-state solution and urge the Government to support Palestine’s bid for a UN non-member statehood status.
“Now that we have a seat at the UN Security Council, Australia needs to step up to this role and take a more considered and independent position. Calling for ‘de-escalation’ is not enough – a ceasefire is what is needed.”
—Australian Greens media release, 16 November
The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years.
—Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, 17 November
There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.
—Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, in the Jerusalem Post, 18 November
In case you thought that Australian politics was all about interminable partisan sledging between the Right (a.k.a. Tony Abbott) and the Left (a.k.a. Julia Gillard and her Greens allies), along comes Israel’s attack on Gaza to unsettle things. Not because it has reproduced the same Right-Left divide, but because it reveals the near-unanimity of our political class in refusing to condemn Israeli aggression.
The latest issue of The Monthly and my response in The Drum on Monday (here, reposted at Left Flank here) have stirred public interest in the sharpened political debates about the future of the Greens. On Thursday, The Australian ran a curiously subdued feature on the party by Christian Kerr that also pulled a lengthy quote the Drum essay.
As the state election skulks closer, it seems clear the NSW Greens will not be actively campaigning on their Drugs and Harm Minimisation policy in the community or the media. Their silence makes obvious that they have determined to stay mum on the question, despite the policy being one democratically endorsed by the membership after prolonged and lively debates.
This is pretty detrimental at a time when significant public interest questions are being raised about failed “zero tolerance” approaches to drug harm. While this silence is likely out of fear of Daily Telegraph front pages, which have in the past run shock horror claims that “The Greens want heroin sold to children in playgrounds by murderers”, this doesn’t mean it’s either a politically or ethically sensible approach. While gone are the days when pragmatic members would suggest candidates in more conservative electorates hide the party’s position in support of issues like same-s*x marriage and adoption, attempts to similarly conceal what are thought of as controversial parts of the party platform appear here to say.
Lest people thought that the pre-election red-baiting of the Greens would stop now that the party’s vote had risen to 11.5 percent and they had gained four new Senators as well as a lower house MP, it has not taken long for a new round of attacks to start. While the media have joined the major parties in courting the three conservative Independent MPs, in particular sanitizing the noxious politics of Bob Katter, already we have been regaled with warnings of Greens extremism and confected shock at Adam Bandt’s history as a socialist in the student network Left Alliance in the 1990s.
But one of the most vexing criticisms has been the donation of a large sum of money (believed to be $325,000) to the Greens campaign by the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union. A significant portion of this ended up with Adam’s campaign. Beyond any right-wing outrage, such as that practiced by the Murdoch press, progressive Sydney Morning Herald columnist Lisa Pryor has also weighed into the debate, broadening it to the question of political donations more generally.
For too long the system has focused on treating people after they become unwell, and this has resulted in vast social and economic costs associated with chronic disease.
—Commonwealth Government response to the Report of the National Preventative Health Taskforce, May 2010
“Prevention” has become the health reform buzzword du jour, accepted at all points of the political spectrum. The spiralling costs of acute and chronic treatment have led to a search for more efficient and beneficent approaches to health and illness than merely cleaning up the burden of illness at the pointy end. Yet the logic of the current focus on prevention says more about the narrow ideological assumptions of mainstream discourse than a genuine attempt to prevent illness.
The NSW Senate race has produced a sideline of media commentary attacking Lee Rhiannon, the lead Greens candidate and until recently a NSW Upper House MP. Most of it has been along the lines of the socialist menace lurking beneath the apparently acceptable green exterior of the party.