Greens a growing political force in Australia

By James Grubel

BRAIDWOOD, Australia, Aug 13 (BestGrowthStock) – Voters in the
sleepy Australian village of Braidwood are increasingly turning
to the Greens, a portent for the major parties ahead of a
knife-edged Aug. 21 election.

Braidwood is in the Eden-Monaro electorate in the southeast
and a seat that, since 1972, whichever party wins has gone on
to form the government.

It is currently held by Labor, but the mood is changing,
with growing frustration over the lack of action on climate
change. The shift, however, is more toward the Greens than the
main conservative opposition.

“There certainly is an increasing interest in Green values
out here,” Braidwood local Nerida Taylor told Reuters in a town
where farmers and logging workers mix with “tree changers”, who
have moved from Canberra and Sydney for a country lifestyle.

Australia’s small Greens party is polling more than 12
percent across the nation, putting it on course to secure the
balance of power in the Senate and become kingmaker on policies
such as a new mining tax and carbon trading, say opinion polls.

The Greens are in favour of both policies, but have hinted
they may want to “green-up” Labor Prime Minister Julia
Gillard’s planned 30 percent mining tax which will hit iron ore
and coal miners, such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

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Eden-Monaro is a rural seat, featuring pristine beaches,
prime farmlands and forests, and stretches up to Australia’s
alpine snow fields and ski resorts.

“The big issues out here are global. We really do need to
take some difficult decisions on climate change,” said Taylor.

A Morgan poll has predicted the Greens could go from five
to as many as 10 seats in the new Senate, giving the party a
key role in passing or blocking laws when the major parties


Green support has grown since Labor’s former prime minister
Kevin Rudd in April postponed his landmark carbon trade scheme.

Gillard, who replaced Rudd on June 24, also wants a delay
on the plan to put a price pollution. Opposition leader Tony
Abbott opposes carbon trading or any price on carbon emissions.
Both sides want emissions cuts of 5 percent by 2020.

The Greens are calling for much deeper emissions cuts and a
carbon tax on big industry until carbon trading can start.

But the shift to the Greens is also evident in key marginal
inner city seats, where voters are disillusioned with the
policy similarities of the government and opposition.

“Bloody hell, its Wally one or Wally two,” said John
Mitchell, a swing voter from inner-city Melbourne, who is
determined to back the Greens for the first time.

“I think climate change is real. Australia really needs to
do something about it. But it doesn’t seem to be translating
into action by the major parties yet,” he said, adding Rudd’s
decision to shelve the carbon trade scheme shifted his

“When Kevin Rudd did that, he changed the rules. It was
certainly a moment of disappointment.”

Mitchell is part of a city-based surge to the Greens. Labor
has real concerns that the Greens could now pull off a surprise
win in the safe Labor seat of Melbourne, where the popular
local member, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, is retiring.

At the last election in 2007 the Greens recorded a stunning
23 percent of the primary vote in Melbourne. Under the
preferential voting system, the Greens ended up with 45 percent
of the vote, to 55 percent for Tanner.

Similar support was recorded in inner-city seats in Sydney
held by Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese and Housing
Minister Tanya Plibersek.

Analyst Nick Economou believes the Greens will fall short
of winning a lower house seat. But the party will be kingmakers
in the upper house, where they will push to “green up” key

“I think the Greens are going to do very well in the
Senate,” Economou, from Melbourne’s Monash University, told

“For the first time in a long, long time, the Senate is
going to have a strong ideological feel to it. The Senate is
going to be much more left of centre.”

For Reuters online coverage of Australia 2010 Election

For a PDF on Australian risk,

(Editing by Michael Perry and Jonathan Thatcher)

Greens a growing political force in Australia