A 2019 Australian Federal Election Policy Guide

SECTION 19

 

 

MINOR PARTIES (1 OF 3)

 

AUSTRALIAN GREENS PARTY ELECTION PROSPECTS

With the increasing habit of voters to preference minor parties and independents first ahead of the major parties, the guide offers a synopsis of the hopes of election or re-election for the minor party and independent candidates for the 2019 election.

 

Recent polls indicate the mood for alternative representatives in our government which saw around 30% of the electorate putting alternatives first in 2016 has not changed and, if anything, will go higher at the 2019 election. This chapter takes a look at the Australian Greens.

IT'S REALLY A MATTER OF PREFERENCES

Background: 2010 - 2018.

 

Note: The Australian Greens is abbreviated to AG herewith

 

 

Following the 2010 election the AG were at the peak of their powers. Issues that under wrote this and preceded this success were

 

- The rise of global climate change politics in the mid 2000’s invading Australia, drawing genuine mainstream prominence to this emerging ‘one issue party’;

 

- The stock piling of refugees on Manus Island and Narau getting frequent media attention;

 

- The consequent expansion of the AG supporter base, adding economic conservative ‘doctors wives’ voters swinging to a party taking on climate change and now refugee advocacy, along with ‘leftie’ voters frustrated with the ALP drift to centre of economic liberalisation [think Lee Rhiannon], and

 

- the popular reputation of their leader, the straight-shooting political savant Bob Brown.

 

In federal political power terms, the post 2010 election state of the AG was both unprecedented and unlikely to be repeated.

 

- Double digit voter support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate;

 

- A consistent and genuine influence in a Senate hosting nine AG members

 

- A strong media profile

 

– reporters attending their daily ‘pressers’ in droves, and

 

- the election of the first ever House of Parliament AG member [Adam Bandt], which placed the AG at the heart of Australian politics, contributing to the forming of a ‘minority government’ with the Labor Party.

 

With a smile on his face, AG Leader Bob Brown went out a winner, leaving his Party in a position even he may not have dreamed of before he retired in 2012.

 

Unfortunately for the AG, this party was not meant to last.

 

From 2013 when the Coalition won Government, the AG maintained a seat in the House of Representatives in Adam Bandt and an impressive number of seats in the Senate, .. in 2013 and 9 in 2016.

 

However

 

- the minority government status of the AG went out a House window with Labor, the voter support of the AG fell below double digits to 8.7 percent in both houses;

 

- Along with the Coalition and Labor, AG votes were leaking to a raft of emerging ‘micro-parties’ that surfaced in the 2013 election;

 

- Consequently, Adam Bandt found himself competing for political air and power with the likes of Clive Palmer in the House or representatives and

 

- In the senate, the still prominent collection of AG senators found themselves far less relevant and powerful.

 

The AG were no longer needed to pass legislation. The AGs minor party role could now be played by a host of ‘micro party’ Senators including

 

three from Palmer United.

 

- ‘Micro Parties’ that emerged in the 2013 election

 

-PUP, Liberal Democratic party, Democratic Labour party, Family First party, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party- were either added to or replaced in the 2016 election by other new kids on the block such as the Derryn Hinch Justice Party and the renamed, revitalised Pauline Hanson One Nation Party.

 

The emergence of micro-parties leaking votes from both the major parties and the AG minor party was in some ways beyond the control of the AG.

 

- The Coalition had ceased its policy of preferencing the Greens ahead of the Labor Party so they would never again contribute to the election of an AG to the House of Representatives, Adam Bandt in the seat of Melbourne (circa 2010).

 

- The Labor Party sought to distance itself from the AG to avoid further allegations of a permanent Labor-Green coalition, and

 

- Bob Brown, the popular forebear of the AG who led the Party with distinction and integrity had retired to the back blocks of civilisation.

 

However, there went things that the AG did have responsibility for that did damage to AG brand and voter loyalties after Bob Brown retired.

 

The most perplexing was the Christine Milne lead decision to vote down the introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme prior to the 2013 election.

 

The Greens were thereafter widely characterised in media profiling as

 

(1) A party that had ‘sold out’ on climate change affective policy in favour of ideological dreams of something better

 

(2) A party of well-to-do inner-city hipsters, soft of aspiration and hard on ideology; and

 

(3) A party falling apart following the Constitutional dismissal of co deputy leaders Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlum in 2017 and the demise of socialist Lee Rhiannon in 2018.

 

Rhiannon fell foul of the AG executive for interfering in Gonski 2.0 negotiations. Rhiannon consequently lost pre-selection for the 2019 election before she resigned.

 

 

One final note of concern for the AG leading to the 2019 election was a 2018 by-Election.

 

Dr Kerryn Phelps ran her campaign on things the AG typically support

 

– climate change, LGBTI rights, anti- discrimination policy and refugee advocacy.

 

Phelps won the seat as in Independent in a Liberal held seat vacated by a dismissed Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

 

In this 2018 by-election, the AG primary vote fell to 8.5 percent compared to the 14.8 percent result in the 2016 general election.

 

85 percent of AG preferences flowed to the Independent, but the AG lost 6.3 percent of their own primary vote to an Independent spruiking issues once the bastion of the AG voter base.

 

Main Sources David Heatherington. Is the Party over for Australian Greens? 1 March 2015. https://percapita.org.au/our_media/is-the-party-over-for-australias-greens/

 

Scott Bennett (2008) The rise of the Australian Greens Research Paper no. 8 2008–09 Politics and Public Administration. Sectionhttps://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp0809/09rp08

 

On 7 September 2013, a hipster party in an inner-city Melbourne warehouse marked the political high-water of the Australian Greens. The election-night revellers celebrated the re-election of the party’s rising star, Adam Bandt, who that night became the first Green to hold a seat in the federal House of Representatives.

 

These achievements included

 

- double-digit support in both houses at federal elections,

 

-cabinet seats in state governments

 

- a formal agreement promising policy consultation from a minority national government

 

- . The party was now a consistent and influential presence in the Senate, providing nine members in the 76-seat house after the 2010 election.

 

- In terms of popular support, media visibility and political power, the Greens were now a genuine third force in Australian politics.

 

- The Greens had been the most powerful new arrival in national politics since the Democratic Labor party in the 1950s.

 

This rise was propelled by three factors,

 

1 -The emergence of global climate politics in the mid-2000s: they might have been a single-issue party but the issue of the day was their issue.

 

2 Broadening disillusionment with the partisan politics of both the mainstream political parties.

 

This disillusionment allowed the Greens to build their base in two distinct areas of the electorate, beyond single-issue environmental supporters. One was the so-called “doctors’ wives”, affluent economically liberal voters who historically voted conservative but whose vote swung on the twin social issues of climate change and refugees.

 

The other group was more traditional “left-wing voters” who felt that Labor had drifted too far to the centre in its embrace of economic liberalisation. The Greens’ adoption of economic policies to the left of Labor attracted candidates such as Lee Rhiannon, a high-profile former member of the Socialist party.

 

3 The leadership of Bob Brown, a long-term environmental campaigner widely regarded for straight-talking and integrity. In an era where spin prevails over substance, Brown combined an unpretentious style with strategic nous.

 

What’s more, as the Greens and Labor could not provide a blocking majority in the Senate, it was clear that the Greens’ effective influence over the new conservative government was close to zero – if the government could win over the micro-parties, it would carry the Senate.

 

Suddenly, it seemed, the Greens had been dealt out of the game. How had this happened?

 

Ironically, the root cause of the Greens’ decline was that they had become part of the political establishment as they had always dreamed, but at exactly the wrong time.

 

They had cemented their place as the third “major” party in Australian politics, at a time when major parties were haemorrhaging trust.

 

They had stopped being a “minor” party at a time when around the world, minor parties were taking on the establishment from left and right, including the Tea party, the United Kingdom Independence party, Syriza, Podemos, and National Front.

 

In Australia, the rise of the micro-parties has been helped by the compulsory preferential voting system which, when combined with distaste for establishment parties, throws up unpredictable results in the Senate: a professional “preference whisperer” has built a reputation for guiding unknowns onto the Senate benches.

 

All these factors have played against the Greens, but in fundamental ways, they have contributed to their own decline.

 

Both voters and commentators remember that the Greens, the party of climate change, rejected an ETS because they felt it was not ambitious enough.

 

As it transpired, Labor enacted a weaker scheme in the subsequent parliament which was then disbanded by Tony Abbott’s government in 2014.

 

Had the Greens not shunned that first opportunity, it is likely Australia would have an enduring, successful scheme today, with millions of tons of emissions saved.

 

Then, when they supported Labor’s minority government, they failed in the public’s mind to secure distinctive policy achievements. Under attack from the conservative Murdoch press for pursuing a “Greens-Left agenda”, Labor actively moved to distance itself from the Greens, further weakening their political impact.

 

Ultimately, having failed to deliver on climate change in the previous parliament, this demonstrated an inability to move beyond a narrow agenda of climate change and refugees.

 

The departure of Brown as leader in 2012 did not help their cause; his replacement, Christine Milne found his shoes difficult to fill.

 

Fundamentally, the Greens succeeded because they combined issues politics on climate change and refugees with an occupation of the traditional social democrat space vacated by Labor as it has moved to the political centre.

 

It is possible that the pendulum will swing again, and that the Greens can recapture their standing as political outsiders driven by values. Then again, Labor could close off this avenue by reoccupying the social democrat ground with an appeal to those same values.

 

Given the speed at which Australian politics has moved in the last  15 years, no sensible observer would discount either possibility.

2019 ELECTION PROSPECTS

 

The Greens go into the 2019 election with 8 senators and one House of Representatives incumbent.

 

GREENS MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT (1)

 

Adam Bandt MP for Melbourne

 

GREENS SENATORS (8)

 

Dr. Richard Di Natale Senator for Victoria [ Leader]

 

Rachel Siewert Senator for WA

 

Sarah Hanson-Young Senator for SA

 

Dr.Mehreen Faruqi Senator for NSW

 

Janet Rice Senator for Victoria

 

Nick McKim Senator for Tasmania

 

Peter Whish-Wilson Senator for Tasmania

 

Jordon Steele-John Senator for WA

 

There were nine Australian Greens Senators elected in 2016. However, that number was reduced to eight when Andrew Bartlett, who replaced co-deputy leader Larissa Waters following the citzenship fiasco, resigned from the Senate in August 2018.

 

Notes - 

 

- Nick McKim replaced retiring leader Christine Milne after she retired in 2015. He retained the seat in the 2016 election;

 

- Dr. Mehreen Faruq replaced Lee Rhiannon who resigned after losing pre-selection for NSW to Dr Faruq following a dispute with the national executive over Gonski 2.0 negotiations; and

 

- Jordon Steele-John replaced co-deputy leader Scott Ludlam-----disqualified under section 44 (i) of the Constitution.

 

# Larissa Water won pre-selection as the number one Australian Greens candidate for Queensland in the Senate for 2019. She will win a 2nd term as a senator in 2019 after resigning before a High Court decision on her eligibililty status in 2017. *

 

The Australian Greens boasted a dominance of female representatives with six women and four men elected to Parliament in 2016 before Larissa Waters resigned.

 

House of Representatives

 

The Australian Greens election history since its inception clearly shows that this party does best in inner city urban area seats, and rarely anywhere else in terms of members standing for House of Representative seats.

 

 

1    THE SEAT OF MELBOURNE 

 

Adam Bandt has held the seat since 2010. Bandt received a primary vote improvement in 2016 and a positive swing of 11. 5 percent on second preferences against a Liberal. Again the Labor primary vote fell in this seat in 2016, this time by 2.1 percent.

 

 

First preference count for the Division of Melbourne (VIC) 2016

 

Party                                   Votes          %        Swing (%)          Status

 

The Greens                        43,177       43.7       +1.1               ELECTED

 

Liberal                                 23,878       25.2      +2.4

 

ALP                                      23,100       24.4       -2.1

 

Australia Sex Party              3,265        3.4       +1.5

 

Animal Justice Party          1,742         1.8       +1.1

 

Drug Law Reform                  1,187      1.2       +1.2

 

 

 

Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) count for the division of Melbourne (VIC) 2016

 

 

Candidate                     Party     Votes            Swing         Status

 

Le Lui Liberal               29,808      31.5             -11.5

 

Adam Bandt Greens   64,771      68.5              +11.5      ELECTED

 

Forecast : The Greens can expect to retain Melbourne at the next election comfortably.

 

 

2 THE SEAT OF COOPER  [Ex Batman] by-Election

 

Preference dynamics will present hurdles for the Greens in this ALP seat if the Liberals again preference Labor ahead of the Greens.

 

This seat was known as Batman before the AEC ran a redistribution in Victoria and changes some seat names.

 

First preference count for the division of Cooper By Election (VIC) 2018

 

Party                                        Votes         %             Swing (%)        Status

 

Australian Labor Party         36,840      43.1              +7.8             Elected

 

The Greens                             33,725     39.4             +3.26

 

Australian Conservatives       5,471       6.4              +6.41

 

Rise Up Australia Party           2,217       2.6

 

Australian Liberty Alliance     1,186      1.3

 

Independent                              1,245     1.4

 

WHITEHEAD, Adrian                  745       0.8

 

Australian People's Party          496       0.5

 

Sustainable Australia                 951      1.1

 

2PP results 2018 By Election for the divison of Cooper (VIC) 2018

 

 

Party           Votes    %     Swing (%)           Status

 

ALP            46,444  54.3    + 3.3                Elected

 

Greens       38,958  45.6     -3.3

 

Forecast : Add the problem of overcoming Liberal preferences that will have more impact in the general election instead of the proxy Liberal vote that went to the Australian Conservatives candidate (6.4 PV) at the by-election, and the ‘somophore surge’ the ALP expects for the new member Justine Keay at the forthcoming general election together. The result seems to be that a Labor win must be forecast here.

 

3   THE SEAT OF HIGGINS

 

In this conservative seat, the Greens prospects are not much better. The third highest primary vote winner will be Labor who distribute their preferences to the Greens over Liberals. However, the Liberal candidate goes into the election with 52 percent of the primary vote which would dissolve the need for second preferences to decide the outcome of the seat. A Liberal primary vote collapse would be needed, similar to the Labor Party first preference collapse (-9.1) in 2016.

 

 

First Preference Votes for the division of Higgins (VIC) 2016  

 

PARTY                   VOTES       %       SWING       STATUS

 

Liberal                  46,953      52.0         -2.3         Elected

 

The Greens          22,870     25.3         +8.5

 

ALP                       13,495     14.9          -9.1

 

NXT                          2,007     2.2

 

Animal Justice       1,344    1.4

 

Marriage Equality 1,265     1.4

 

Hinch Team           1,264     1.4

 

Liberal Democrats1,093     1.2

 

 

Two candidate preferred (TCP) for Higgins (VIC) Party Votes 2PP  2016

 

 Party                VOTES        %          2016 Swing

 

Liberal                52,395   58.0             -1.9

 

The Greens        37,932   42.0            +1.9

 The Redistribution in Victoria reduced the 2PP from 8.0 to 7.3 %.

The Greens would have struggled to overcome a high profile female incumbent [Minister for Women] who won the seat without the need to depend on ‘second preferences’ in the last election. 

 

However,

 

-    The Redistribution in Victoria reduced the 2PP margin to 7.3% v Greens from 8.0%

 

-    Ms O'Dwyer is retiring, which will strip 1- 2 percent off the 2PP margin the new Liberal candidate takes into this election courtesy of the 'retirement effect';

 

- There will be a level of push back in this seat from women voters and male supporters unhappy with 0'Dwyer's performance as the Minister for Women;

 

Forecast  If anyone is going to wrest this seat from the Liberals in 2019 it will be the Greens. The Australian Labor Party primary vote went backwards 9.1 percent in this seat in 2016. The gap to second place would take a Ruddslide to acheive. However, if the Australian Labor Party can lift the primary vote in 2019 the Greens can ride their second preferences to a second MP in the House of Representatives in 2019. Too close to call. 

 

 A reachtel poll held in Higgins with 860 participants recorded this first preference intention for 2019  

 

Liberal Party 36.9  

 

Australian Labor Party 24.8   

 

Australian Greens 8.4  

 

Independent 5.1 

 

" A minor party" 7.1  

 

2PP ALP 52 - 48 Liberal  

 

Source: Rachel Baxendale. Labor or Greens look good to steal Higgins. The Weekend Australian. 26 Jan 2019, p2.     

 

 4    THE SEAT OF MACNAMARA [ex Melbourne Ports]    

 

 

First preference count for the division of Melbourne Ports 2016

 

Candidate                              Party                                Votes     %     Swing (%)

 

Michael Danby                      ALP                                  22,897   27.0     -4.7

 

Steph HODGINS-MAY        The Greens                       20,179   23.7     +3.6

 

Owen GUEST                        Liberal                              35,533   41.9     +0.8

 

Peter HOLLAND                   Independent                      1,393     1.6      +1.6

 

Henry VON DOUSSA           Marriage Equality              1,349     1.5     +1.5

 

John MYERS                        Independent                          425      0.5     + 0.5

 

Robert SMYTH                    Animal Justice Party         1,685     1.9     +1.9

 

Levi McKENZIE                   Drug Law Reform               1,348      1.5     +1.5

 

 

Two candidate preferred (TCP) for Melbourne Ports 2016

 

Candidate                          Party          Votes Margin 2016 2013 Swing (%)

 

Owen GUEST                    Liberal        41,236 -2,337 48.6  46.4    +2.1

 

Michael DANBY                ALP            43,573  2,337 51.4   53.5     -2.1

 

Things working in the Greens favour this time around are 

 

-  A Redistribution dropped the 2PP slightly to 51.2 from 51.4;

 

- The sitting member is retiring in 2019 which would shave 1-2 percent away from the new candidate for the ALP [the retirement effect] which theoretically speaking puts this seat on 50.00 between the Greens and Labor before a vote is cast  in this seat.

 

- The ALP chose a male candidate in controversial circumstances where a female candidate was allegedly rail-roaded in the pre-selection process. If this issue gets out to the voters in Macnamara, choosing a male candidate to replace Danby might not have been  the smartest thing the pre-selection committee did at Labor Unity.

 

Source: Paul Karp Labor MP Michael Danby's preselection meeting undemocratic, candidate says. The Guardian 16 Jul 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jul/16/labor-mp-michael-danbys-preselection-meeting-undemocratic-candidate-says

 

 If the Greens are going to cull primary votes they will take them from the Liberal Party more often than the ALP and this will help them to win second spot ahead of the new ALP candidate. IF the Greens can draw 3.3 percent primary vote from the Liberal Party without the ALP primary vote improving they may have a chance here.

 

Forecast: It seems to me this will be the closest the Greens will come to finally winning this seat, but they will fall short by not very much at best, and a long way off if the ALP can lift their performance and campaigning in this seat with a fresh candidate. 

 

 

 

5    THE SEAT OF WILLS  2016

 

 

 

First preference count for the division of Wills (VIC) 2016 

 

 

Candidate                                                Party          Votes        %        Swing (%) 

 

Peter KHALIL                                         ALP             35,431     37.6       -7.4 

 

Samantha RATNAM                            Greens         29,017     30.8       +8.6

 

Kyong HONG                                         Liberal         20,634     21.9      -0.9 

 

Tristram CHELLEW              Australian Sex Party 2,608         2.7       +0.1

 

Francesco TIMPANO                  Independent        1,832        1.9        1.9

 

Camille SYDOW                   Animal Justice Party 1,578        1.6       +1.6

 

Ash BLACKWELL Drug Law Reform                       1,287        1.3      +1.3

 

 

 Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) for Wills (VIC) 2016

 

Candidate                        Party                 Votes   Margin 2016   2013   Swing

 

Samantha RATNAM      The Greens     42,462 -9,184    45.1    34.8    +10.3

 

Peter KHALIL                   ALP                 51,646 9,184     54.8    65.2     -10.3

The Victorian redistribution lifted the 2PP margin from 4.8 to 4.9% .

Forecast

Election after election, the Greens have been chipping away at this seat along with Macnamara and Cooper, hoping to work into a position where they have a genuine chance of taking it from the ALP. Party leader DI Natalie will enjoy reviewing these numbers in WIlls come election time.

 

In this seat, the problem for the Greens is always going to be the 20,000+ people who 1st preference the Liberal Party and their 61.2 percent  2nd preference flow favouring the ALP ahead of the Greens and 54 percent of all 2nd preferences also favouring the ALP in 2016. The Greens will be disappointed again in this seat, however not by much.

FOR THE GREENS PROSPECTS IN THE SENATE SEE THE BIG PICTURE CHAPTER  

 

THE FORECAST TO DATE IS THAT THE PARTY WILL COME OUT OF THE 2019 WITH  8 SEATS FOR CERTAIN AND POSSIBLY 10 SENATE SEATS