How the hell did political debate in this country turn so ugly?
Last week Bill Shorten was out seeing voters in electorates like Dobell
However if you were to believe some of the nasty commentary coming from supporters of the Greens you could be forgiven for thinking he was waterboarding pregnant women and attaching electrodes to babies.
When Kevin Rudd was elected it was during debate over whether climate change was real or not. When Gillard was elected it was around some ugly debate over sexism and misogyny. When Abbott was elected debate raged around racism and once again misogyny. This election if some elements of the Greens membership have their way the debate will sink to new lows around Gulags, concentration camps and torturing babies.
The Nazi concentration camps saw the genocide of well in excess of a million Jewish men, women and children. While some seem to think those who were massacred can be used as some sort of political lever to pull when things become tough, others like myself, are utterly repulsed at the abuse of their memory.
Extremists on one side, such as the Australian’s Chris Kenny would like to portray asylum seeker accommodation in places like Nauru as some sort of holiday camp, and extremists on the other side like it’s some kind of torture dungeon the CIA use for extraordinary renditions. Those of us with brain cells outnumbering their fingers know the truth lies somewhere in between.
Nobody of sound mind is suggesting that these are nice places, but referring to them as concentration camps implies Nazi death camp and that is well beyond a stretch too far…
In what we refer to as a democracy a government is elected to act on behalf of its citizens and is there to listen to the concerns of the public and form policy around those concerns. When Rudd was elected it was clear that the public expected the government to do something about global warming so the Government attempted to pass an emissions trading scheme. It had public support, and despite the Liberal Party not supporting an ETS Malcolm Turnbull crossed the floor to support it. Unfortunately in what many saw as the ultimate sell out of principles the Greens voted against the scheme and our carbon footprint continued to grow as industry carried on polluting unabated. This of course continued until the Gillard introduced the short-lived Carbon Pricing Scheme that ultimately was a major factor in losing the following election.
In regards to asylum seekers when Rudd was elected the public was sick of events like the children overboard scandal, and the controversy surrounding Nauru’s detention centre, so Rudd brought the processing of refugee claims and processing back to Australia, with the Greens claiming it as a win at the time.
Alas however there were ongoing issues at Villawood and other detention centres, and the eventual deaths of hundreds of men, women and children at sea. Then of course there was the horrible footage of a boat shattered into thousands of pieces off Christmas Island with onlookers watching on in helpless horror as desperate people were smashed into the rocks or unable to cling to wreckage and pulled under the rough sea.
The public demanded something be done to end the carnage and chaos and with the Greens unwilling to negotiate a better outcome Labor was forced to bring back offshore processing by a public that demanded a swift response.
Now public sentiment seems to have shifted again. I don’t claim to be an authority figure, and I state this as an opinion based around the people I talk to whereas a politician would just claim their opinion as fact. It is my view the public, while still supporting offshore processing, are demanding that claims are processed at a much faster rate and that asylum seekers be treated with more dignity than they are currently. On top of this the public are demanding transparency, we are sick of only selected journalists allowed to enter these facilities and tired of inquiries with redacted conclusions and censored sections.
The public is trying to enter into a discussion that should have been held long ago and instead of engaging with the public some elements with talk of torture and concentration camps just make all the more people dis-engage.
I think people are a little over hearing about how racist the Labor Party is when the truth is quite the opposite. Nobody fought harder in the fight against the proposed changes to racial vilification laws or 18C than Labor. Ironically it is often the same people calling Labor members and supporters racists who have often gone on disturbing rants regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that border on being anti-Semitic.
It is important to note that the Greens do have an element of power in the senate, which is a strong card to play in any negotiation. What is disturbing however is that the Greens have not played this card to achieve a better outcome for asylum seekers, to bring marriage equality closer, or to reduce the country’s carbon footprint, they have instead played it in an attempt at self-preservation via handing control of the Senate over to the Coalition via a double dissolution.
Yesterday in the Senate we saw the Greens openly discriminate against the LGBTI Community. Rather than support Labor’s Penny Wong in the call for debate on marriage equality that would have forced action, the Greens crossed the floor to sit with and back Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz and other Coalition members as they shut down debate and action on making marriage equality a reality.
The Greens actions yesterday confirmed their belief is that their Parties interests were of greater importance than the interests of the LGBTI community. The LGBTI community is one that has been discriminated against for decades however to be downtrodden by the Greens must be a bitter blow. Labor want marriage equality now, the Liberals have a plan to introduce it via a plebiscite, and yesterday the Greens gag discussing it in parliament.
This is all part of a deal that the Greens have done with the Coalition to bring on a double dissolution election, ridding the Greens of rivals, and likely giving control of both houses of parliament to the Coalition
On another issue the Greens have a lot to say about, if the Greens believe that handing the Senate over to the Coalition will have a positive outcome for asylum seekers then I’m not sure there is any hope at all for them. With the Liberal Party being run by the far right, and with the creators of Border Force in control the impact on asylum seekers is likely to be brutal. If they are aware this is the case and go through with the deal at any rate it will show the Greens membership that the only ideology in the party’s leadership is one of self-interest.
I’m certainly not going to go as far as Sam Dastyari and refer to the Greens as a cancer, but they are certainly as prevalent as any other party to a cancer within it.
Maybe after all these years the parties true colors are showing.