Especially when you consider that according to the latest Morgan poll, while at the last election Green preferences broke 80:20 Labor’s way things are now radically altered.
“Today’s Morgan poll shows the federal lection is set to be a lot closer than many had anticipated only a few months ago with the ALP (52.5 per cent, down 2 per cent from May 22-23, 2010) holding a narrow two-party preferred lead over the L-NP (47.5 per cent, up 2 per cent),” Gary Morgan says.
“Attention has now returned to the real issues the federal election will be fought upon, the most contentious being the Rudd government’s proposed resource super profits tax.
“The primary votes of the two major parties are even closer with the ALP (42 per cent, down 0.5 per cent) just ahead of the L-NP (41 per cent, unchanged). Only the traditional flow of Greens preferences is predicted to return the government.
“However, close analysis of recent Morgan poll trends shows Greens preferences are now closer to 65:35 in the ALP’s favour . . . likely caused by the Rudd government’s effective abandonment of its emissions trading scheme legislation.”
Morgan’s conclusions are backed by the Greens’ research.
“There is a general feeling that the Labor government started well but are not performing as strongly as before. This feeling was stronger with younger males, where refugee issues and climate change were raised as issues that Labor had disappointed them on. Rudd’s backflip on climate change and approach to asylum-seekers were named specifically,” it summarises.
“The older voters showed a marked increase in feelings of disappointment towards the government, and a much stronger overall feeling of disempowerment and a feeling of having been conned.”
An individual comment: “Before the election Rudd was fresh-faced compared to [John] Howard. All my life I’ve voted Labor, and this is the sorriest time.”
“The Greens,” says the summary “were seen by all groups as having a strong set of values that they don’t compromise on.
“Of a range of messages about the Greens that were tested, the strongest was ‘It is important to have a third party in the Senate to break deadlocks between the government and opposition’.”
Another surveyed voice: “More Greens in parliament would provide more independent voices, a different voice for a change.”
Significantly this is not just the youth vote speaking. “The older group also agreed more Greens in the Senate would be a good thing. Participants wanted another party to criticise the majors.
Said one grey beard: “The way I see it there are two major parties, and they are not really running the country effectively. But a green party can come up with ideas not just in their field. I’m totally disillusioned with the major parties and I see it as an opportunity and it would be good to have more in parliament.”
According to the Greens’ research paper: “The concept of the Greens being a wasted vote did not have much traction with any of the groups although there was discussion of local (lower house) candidates’ likelihood of election in the older group.
“In terms of reasons not to vote Green, one younger male brought up concern regarding ‘Stopping Tony Abbott getting in’, but when asked to differentiate between upper and lower house vote, this was less of an issue.”
Says one senior Green who parsed the research: “On my analysis, asylum-seekers was an issue that symbolised a general value set for all the parties. For younger males the government’s failure to do better than the Howard government on the issue encapsulated their broader disappointment with Rudd Labor.
“For older voters, treatment of asylum-seekers was an important symbol of compassion and demonstration of looking after the vulnerable, ‘doing the right thing’ and assisting the disempowered, like themselves.”
Another thing to worry both main parties. If the Greens’ 16 per cent vote was maintained at election time they would gain an extra Senate seat in every state plus those senators not up for re-election; Milne, (no relation) Brown, Siewart, Hanson-Young and Ludlum.
A powerful force indeed. Not that Bob Brown is kidding himself, which makes him somebody to be reckoned with. The last time a minor party’s vote peaked in this fashion, he says, was in the run-up to the 1990 election, where one month out from polling day under the leadership of Janine Haines, who ran for a lower house seat, the Democrats rated 17 per cent. On election day that dropped to 11.5 per cent.
Against that scenario, and according to the preference flow vagaries of the proportional representation of the Senate, Family First’s Steve Fielding is in the Senate on 1.8 per cent of the primary vote. The point being that as a result of Rudd’s catastrophic policy and political failures the Greens now have the best opportunity in a decade of exercising real clout.
And do you know what Bob Brown told me yesterday would be his first priority after the election, with an additional senator in each state; to sit down with whoever the government of the day was and work out how to implement a national carbon tax.
Now that’s power.