Brown on Latham

I wrote this on Tueday, when it was mildly newsworthy. It's now Friday night, and it's ancient history. Here it is, anyhow:

Senator Bob Brown has remained quiet on the Latham-front, but stood up to be counted last night at Melbourne University. I've always had mixed feelings about Brown - whilst I reject his misanthropic ideology, I think he's an exceptionally talented and perceptive politician. Far from being a voice from outside the political establishment, Brown is capable of the sort of brutal tactical approach that would make even the most seasoned Labor numbers-men proud.

His talk last night was on the topic of "Ten reasons why a young person should get involved in politics", a very direct contradiction of Mark Latham's speech at the same venue last week. Brown stuck loosely to his theme, although meandered through all sorts of themes. By the end, though, it seemed that Brown's attitude was not far from Latham's: the Labor Party is not an appropriate vehicle for social change, parliamentary democracy in Australia is highly flawed, popular public movements are more likely to achieve action than voices in parliament.

Brown is remarkably positive and upbeat about the prospects for the Greens. Given that the coalition have secured the balance of power in the Senate, the voting power of the Greens Senators have been severely diminished. Rather than being despondant at this parliamentary impotence, Brown seems to relish the task. Perhaps this offers some insight into the way the Greens like to play politics - rather than get involved in the pesky business of making decisions which actually affect political outcomes, and the compromise that inevitably comes with it, they prefer to be shrill and absolute. Ironic as it is, but fact that the Greens votes count for so little mean that Brown and his party have avoided some difficult dilemmas.

Brown made a frank admission. When asked about the future prospects for the Greens, he acknowledged that "the trajectory of human history" suggested that once the Greens become an established part of the political scene that they would become as compromised as the Liberal and Labor Parties. It was a bold admission, and a truthful one as well.

A couple of quick snippets from Brown's speech:

- Brown admitted he attempted to join the Liberal Party when he was 21 and by his own description, "young and confused". According to Brown, the fact that his local Liberal office was closed at the time he approached it. Strange.

- The Senator threw himself behind a rather juvenile campaign being run under the banner "Out education shouldn't cost the Earth", a campaign encouraging students to bombard the Australian Vice Chancellor's Committee switchboard with calls encouraging 'greener' campuses.

- Brown spoke at length about the principle of "One person, one vote, one value" without even the slightest hint of irony. Someone ought to tell the Senator that as a Tasmanian he was elected with just a tiny fraction of the votes that a NSW Senator is elected with. Hardly 'one value'.

What about Bob?
What about Bob?


Hi Ari,

I must say that I have often dissagreed with Bob on many issues however I was impressed by one speech he gave in the senate on Thursday. He spoke in favour of compulsory voting whilst acknowledging that the Greens would probably benefit the most from voluntary voting. As a supporter of compulsory voting I was happy to hear this but it also shows that Bob is a man of conviction, if a little missguided at times.
Peter Parker said…
I had a vague recollection of reading that Brown (like WA NDP/Green Jo Vallentine) flirted with the Nationals in his youth?

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find anything on the web to substantiate this.


PS: Planning to be present on the 11th for the transport talk
I actually don't see how voluntary voting would help the Greens. When I talk to people about why they vote the way the do, most people I know who vote Greens do it because they are disillusioned with the major parties - a "protest vote", if you will. I am of the opinion that many of these people would stay home and not bother voting at all. I think the Greens are more likely to lose out than anything else.

Another suggested change - optional preferential voting in the lower house - might benefit the Greens in a very few seats but it's hard to say. The idea of above the line preferences in the Senate would disadvantage the Greens as they would lose the bargaining power of directing preferences. Bob, like all of them, knows which side his bread is buttered on. He can make noises about "doing the right thing" all he wants, but when it comes down to it, he's not going to support voluntary voting because it will not help him one little bit. Conviction indeed - just not on principle.
Anonymous said…
After reading much of your insights into the Latham Diaries, I thought I might go out and get myself a copy.

Well, there was that, and the fact that I had $25 in book vouchers I was yet to use from my 21st. I am now 25. So it really only cost me $15.00.

Haven't had a chance to sit down and read it yet, but look forward to when I get the opportunity.
Anonymous said…
Brown is spinning his little head right off if he's claiming voluntary voting would assist the greens.

Rebekka is indeed spot on in her analysis. It is not a sign of Brown's commitment to democracy that he supports compulsory coting against his parties alleged interest.

It is in fact yet another sign of his abject lack of any sense of moral duty and proof positive that he is in fact the full-blown political animal that he spends most of his time criticising.

The man is a politician, people, not Saint Bob. Try to remember that.

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