Green gains a bright spot in a depressing Australian election

This piece was originally published on The Daily Blog. 

Australia’s election result was a big downer. But there was a bright spot in the gains made by the Australian Greens.

The Green vote in the Senate went up from 8.65% in 2016 to 10.88% today. This was a gain of 2.22%, the biggest gain of any party. The Senate is always the Greens main target, because it is run under the proportional Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, unlike the First Past the Post (after preferences) lower house. However, the Green’s did retain their single lower house seat, in Melbourne, with incumbent Adam Bandt gaining 74% of the vote (after preference distribution) in his final runoff with the Liberal candidate.

With probably nine seats in the Senate the Green will have some influence, although the Liberals could probably cobble together a majority on most issues by working with the five independent Senators, all of whom lean to the right.

It seems the Australian electorate is increasingly polarised with the Liberals picking up extra votes on the right and the Greens gaining on the left.TDB

The Greens had strong policies to confront the climate crisis, including stopping a new mega mine in Queensland. Unlike Labor they welcomed refugees. They were more far-reaching than Labor in their social policies, which included free polytech and undergraduate education and subsidised dental treatment. The Greens challenged the banks and pledged to reverse privatisation in the energy sector by buying back essential electricity infrastructure. A big issue for the Greens was election finance reform. Unlike the Liberals and Labor, the Greens refuse donations from big corporations, who use their money to buy influence.

It’s funny that although we have 20 years of Green representation in our Parliament (and now Green Ministers) the New Zealand media pretty well ignored the Australian Greens in the runup to the poll. An academic study on this political bias would be useful. It’s not as if Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten were excitement machines, demanding media attention, compared with Greens like the Melbourne MP Adam Bandt or South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Nor is it true that the Liberals and Labor had exciting new policies that just had to be made public. Can you remember one? When will the mainstream media realise that simply commenting on polling for the two big parties, or judging which of their two colourless leaders is better “liked”, is not journalism. We deserve better.