Politics: Hung Parliament and Adam Bandt

Let’s now have a look at Adam Bandt, the new MP representing the seat of Melbourne (ie, the inner city and surrounds). Adam Bandt is the second Green ever to be elected to the House of Representatives (Michael Organ of Cunningham, NSW, was the first, back in 2002), and to say the Greens are pretty excited about this is to put it mildly (the Greens also still have a small chance of getting a seat in Grayndler, but I can’t make the AEC website cough up the numbers for me yet). In the past, Melbourne has always been a safe Labor seat.

I wrote about the Greens’ policies previously, however it’s worth being aware that, once pre-selected, Green candidates are pretty much allowed to vote their conscience. This is reflective of Green membership and voters alike incidentally; whenever I scrutineer, I can’t help noticing that the overwhelming majority of below-the-line votes in the Senate have a Greens candidate at number 1, and I don’t even know why we bother telling people how to vote, because unlike Labor and Liberal (where you know after about two minutes of scrutineering exactly what was on their HTV cards because virtually everyone follows them), Greens preferences tend to go everywhere. The vast majority go to Labor before Liberal, but when it comes to the small parties, everyone makes up their own mind, and there is no obvious pattern to the ballot papers. I like to think that this shows that Greens supporters are thinking people. A less kind, but perhaps equally accurate description, might be that they are an entire party of loose cannons.

Still, looking at what Bandt says on his website, I suspect Bandt’s conscience isn’t going to give me any problems in terms of what he votes for. Here’s a bit from his front page:

I live and work in Melbourne. As a barrister and former partner in a major national law firm, I’ve dedicated years to public interest campaigning and workplace rights, fighting the exploitation of sweatshop labour and increasing the wages of our lowest paid workers.

I will be a stronger representative for Melbourne than a Labor politician forced to toe the factional or party line.

My priorities for Melbourne will kickstart a 21st-century clean energy boom and help accelerate Australia’s transition to a world-leading sustainable economy. I will advocate for Melbourne residents’ real values on issues like refugees, health, water & public transport.

Incidentally, I’m tickled to note that Bandt, like many of the Greens, has an official blog. I don’t think any of the other parties have been getting into the blog scene, and it’s very reflective of the Green demographic. I should also note that in searching google for Adam Bandt I found a variety of virulently anti-Greens sites, claiming that Bandt is a hypocrite who thinks it’s ‘legitimate to steal if you had no money’ (the quotes from him do not support this statement), and that the Greens’ policies will lead to children dying of cancer. The Greens in general and Adam Bandt in particular are clearly inspiring some very strong emotions both for and against them.

Adam Bandt, formerly of Slater and Gordon and a man with very strong ties with the unions (and was in fact backed by the Electrical Trades Union to the tune of $350,000 – an unprecedented amount in the world of Greens political funding), has already stated that he will back Labor. This isn’t yet enough to give Labor a majority, and will probably take him out of conversations with the independents. I think I’ll give Green’s member and political commentator Robyn Eckersley the final word on this:

“The Greens need to think very seriously about what it is that’s fundamental that they really have to stand firm on…politics necessarily involves comprise but it can’t involve comprising the really important things, and we’ve seen that Labor’s done that and they’ve been punished severely.”

I really hope they can do so.

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