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Milne: Labor walked away from Greens but we will see this parliament through

The leader of the Australian Greens, Christine Milne, today delivered a stinging attack on the Australian Labor Party, accusing…

Milne said The Greens will continue to guarantee supply and confidence to the government, despite a string of decisions that disappointed her. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt)

The leader of the Australian Greens, Christine Milne, today delivered a stinging attack on the Australian Labor Party, accusing it of ending a deal the two parties struck that allowed Labor leader Julia Gillard to take up the prime ministership, but stopped short of withdrawing her party’s support for the government.

Gillard relied on the support of the Greens to win a wafer-thin majority in the parliament following the 2010 federal election.

In a speech to the National Press Club today, Milne said the Greens would continue to vote with the government on budgetary issues and on any motions of no-confidence, despite a series of policy decisions that disappointed her.

“The Tarkine decision, the attack on single parents, the unwillingness to act on coal seam gas or the mining tax, fossil fuel subsidies. All those things send a very clear message that Labor’s priorities lie with powerful mining interests, not with the people and the Greens,” she said.

“What has become manifestly clear is that Labor, by its actions, has walked away from its agreement with the Greens and into the arms of the big miners.”

Milne said it was time to call a spade a spade.

“By choosing those big miners, the Labor government is making it clear to all that it no longer has the courage or the will to work with The Greens on a shared agenda in the national interest,” she said.

“By choosing big miners, the Labor government is choosing to no longer honour our agreement to work together to promote transparent and accountable government, the public interest or to address climate change.”

“Labor has effectively ended its agreement with The Greens. Well, so be it. But we will not allow Labor’s failure to uphold the spirit of our agreement to advance the interests of [Opposition leader] Tony Abbott.

Milne said the Greens would continue to guarantee supply, meaning it would not block the budget or the flow of any money bills, a move that could lead to the downfall of a government.

“We will not walk away from the undertakings we gave, not only to the Prime Minister but to the people of Australia, and that was to deliver confidence and supply until Parliament rises for the election. We will see this Parliament through to its full term,” she said.

“The fact of the matter is: our signatures mean something.”

Fall of parliament unlikely

Professor Anne Twomey, an expert in Constitutional Law at the University of Sydney, said that “at this stage, it is fairly unlikely that the Parliament will fall.”

“The Greens have stated that they will stand by their promise of maintaining confidence and supply. This means that they will vote for budget bills and against any no confidence motions,” she said.

“It is probably not in the interests of any party to bring down the government anyway, now that a forthcoming election date is known. All parties need to prepare and cost their policies, plan their advertising campaigns, book their advertising spots and organise their campaign budgets. Causing a snap election will cause difficulty for all of them.”

Professor Twomey said even if a member resigned from Parliament, “there will be a real question as to whether it is appropriate to hold a by-election so close to a general election.”

“Even if one were held, by the time it was determined, Parliament may have stopped sitting or could be prorogued by the Government, meaning its sittings would be terminated,” she said.

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18 Comments sorted by

  1. Riddley Walker


    This was a brilliant speech by Christine Milne. Down to earth, realistic, and honest. It is worth checking out when it comes online via ABCTV.

    I simply do not understand why the Greens share of the vote is so low, when the calibre of representatives is so high, and the policies so practical.

    1. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Riddley Walker

      I, too, have enjoyed it enormously, Riddley. This batch of Labor biscuits is a flawed one. They should be removed from the oven and a new batch prepared. I would hate to see the Tony Party win on its own but if the Julia Party doesn't get the message that it has betrayed every ingredient that the previous batches made of and everyone who loved them, then the slippery slide down the precipice of kleptocracy will accelerate.
      The throne of this party is soaked in blood and the blood keeps getting splattered. Best the Greens move away, lest the spatter hits them.

      Certainly don't understand the poll figures for them, though, they ARE only poll figures. In fact, I have a strong feeling that the reality will disprove them.

    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Riddley Walker

      The main reason is probably generational inertia coupled with the demonising that arises from the two major parties, Coalition as the Greens advocate a more sustainable path that could compromise the economic ambitions of Donors and Labor in that the Greens are becoming more attractive to traditional labor voters.

      The number of seats is not representative of the level of support for the Greens via the intricacies of the preferential voting system (i.e. their percentage of voters support is higher than that represented in parliament). And the more Labor and the Coalition drift towards the right, the more people who are more socially/environmentally inclined will consider the Greens to be more in line with their perceptions and what they would like to see for Australia

    3. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to george theodoridis

      could be an artful piece of engineering, who knows? Just like the impact of the carbon tax, what is reported in the media may not be anywhere near the actual experience.

    4. Marilyn Shepherd


      In reply to george theodoridis

      Last night we see again that children as young as 9 are being driven to suicide by Gillards appalling policy of again jailing refugee children.

      She has thrown decades of hard work in the bin to appease the bogans and racists in western Sydney, people terrified of other people who arrive on islands 5,300 km from Sydney.

      She has betrayed single parents, betrayed gays and lesbians to appease the bigots in the religious lobby, made the racist intervention into the NT lands even more vicious and now selling us all down the river in dirty deals with the miining industry as if short term jobs are all that matters in the country.

      Short term, pandering to special focus groups.

      It's sickening.

    5. Riddley Walker


      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Well, my question was rhetorical!

      But yes, you have pretty much hit the nail on the head. There's a lot of anti-Green propaganda which people swallow all too easily.

      I saw Mike Seccombe (sp ?) the editor of the Global Mail last week on ABC TV (not sure the show, with Julia Baird) say this: "currently the Greens are the most fiscally responsible Party". He seemed to think this was funny, and that reinforces my point - even when people see the Greens as being the most responsible Party, they somehow cannot believe it. And that is the result of prejudice and ignorance.

    6. Mike Hansen


      In reply to Riddley Walker

      I agree Riddley. That was a very good speech. I was not a fan but Milne continues to impress.

      As for support - give it time. The Murdoch press (and even here at The Conversation - check out Michelle Grattan) campaign against them aggressively. Unlike the LibLabs, they need to build their support through grass roots campaigning because they are not going to get much of a break in the media.

    7. John C Smith


      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      No refugee lad or lass has committed suicide within Australian jurisdiction. The only one to do so was a native Fijian. There are thousands of refugee children dying witin the fourty million refugees in the world. They dont have the money to buy shepperds to lead them to Australian citizenship.

    8. Roger Peters


      In reply to Riddley Walker

      Well funny how perceptions can differ, I thought she was abrasive and sour. I find like any minority they play to whoever they think will be on the winning side. Isn't "green Liberal" and oxymoron"?

    9. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Roger Peters

      "I find like any minority they play to whoever they think will be on the winning side" - Then you obviously didnt hear the speech she made, to suggest this is an attempt to cuddle up to abbott is insane

    10. Marilyn Shepherd


      In reply to John C Smith

      That is not true, many refugees have killed themselves in our prisons, the fact is not one should be jailed and not one should be driven to such despair.

      As for being able to pay to be safe why do you bogans and fools continue to believe that the people who are refugees outside their own countries but are not here are wrong for paying to save their lives.

      Should they stay home and die?

      Fair dinkum, there is nothing in the law that says refugees have to be poor, the poor people you are on…

      Read more
  2. John C Smith


    Green pastures goning dry and getting caught in the bush fires due to climate change or the rats falling off with the asylum seekers from a sinking boat.

  3. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email

    Milne has staked her claim to post Bob Brown leadership with this ripper speech. However, shifting Australian politics to a more humane, ecologically informed and economically just focus will depend on the energy and commitment of citizens who support such a change; The Greens as a political party cannot do it alone, unaided by a broader constituency. Well, you can't change the hearts and minds of people who clearly don't have either a decent heart or a functioning mind and that'd be a majority of Australians at this point. Still, worth a go because what else is there to do but have a go?

  4. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Amazing Article, thanks for posting

    how the hell did 2 other authors get this pretty much spot on but grattan failed to do anything but link it to rudd is beyond me

    1. Roger Peters


      In reply to Michael Shand

      Hey Michael,

      Just because two authors agree with your point of view, doesn't make the disenting view wrong.

  5. Luke Weston

    Physicist / electronic engineer

    "the unwillingness to act on coal seam gas"

    The unwillingness to act how? The unwillingness to act in a scientifically sound, rational, economically sound, evidence based way?

    Or the unwillingness to simply accept Green ideology on any issue Milne and her colleagues dictate, in a way which is not necessarily scientifically sound, rational or evidence based?

    1. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Luke Weston

      The first, Luke.
      Please check out the whole issue of coal seam gas and what the farmers are saying about it. It is a practice that scientists -not paid by the mining industry, condemn utterly because not only does the fracking (fracturing) involves highly poisonous chemicals that seep into the artesian basins and pollute irretrievably the water but because it is a dirty industry that pollutes pretty much everything it touches and destroys the land for many miles around the mine.
      This has a long history of ugliness and it's widely discussed.
      If the Greens work by ideology, then rest assured, that ideology is not the voracious, avaricious, mindless ideology that motivates the likes of the Free Marketeer Cleptocrats, which, alas, the ALP has joined with alarming alacrity.