Watching the Greens involvement in public debate is like watching a runaway train.
No one knows who’s driving; no one knows where the brakes are; and no one has seemed to notice the cliff around the next bend.
The Party that has long relished occupying the twilight zone of political discourse in this country, promised a generational change when Bob Brown departed public life.
One of Brown’s final keynote addresses in Hobart beautifully represented the sum of his overall contribution to educated debate on important issues. In his speech he claimed the reason we haven’t found alien life on other worlds, is that upon becoming technologically advanced, their over-industrialisation strangled their planet into extinction. NASA and Trekkies were agog at Brown’s revelation.
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If you asked any normal person to describe the September 11 terror attacks, the word “unbelievable” would be one of the first adjectives to spring to mind. Unbelievable, as in defying comprehension.
For a small but loud group of people – people I am somewhat reticent to write about for fear of inviting a deluge of emails from wackos – the September 11 terror attacks are unbelievable in a different way. They are unbelievable because, they argue, terrorists did not hijack planes and fly them into the Twin Towers. Instead, they believe the whole thing was an elaborate hoax, either a controlled detonation or a joint operation masterminded by the United States itself to justify a war against Islam. Some of them argue that Osama bin Laden didn’t exist, or was not behind what happened, despite his appearing in a film claiming full responsibility.
It is not so much an opinion as a diagnosable mental illness, but there you go. They think it’s the truth, and that’s why they give themselves the silly name of “truthers”.
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It came as a surprise to some that Bob Brown was acknowledged as our most influential politician in The Australian‘s Top 50 survey of Australia’s most powerful figures in politics. If the claim had been made by the ABC or Fairfax it might have been easily dismissed as preferential bias - but coming from the Oz it can only be taken as a disgruntled admission of the Green leader’s success and political prowess.
Despite what we might personally think about the Greens’ policies, if we look at the current state of play in Canberra its hard to argue with The Australian‘s assessment. The Greens leader is the most stable and secure party leader in the Australian parliament.
Despite being just a few years younger than John Howard, Brown appears to be in his political prime. His status is international - as the man who founded the world’s first ever Green Party in Tasmania in the 1970s and took his vision all the way to the national stage. As a politician, he has outlived them all. Bob Brown has even been described by Tony Abbott as the “real Prime Minister” of Australia.
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It is customary for new Members and Senators to use part of their first speech to give some account of their careers before their election. Despite my entreaties that new Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon address her past, she used the usual dodge of whinging that critics were reviving a ‘new McCarthyism’.
Prior to her speech, there has been a battle going on at Wikipedia about her political history. Ever since April a number of people have been trying to write a full, honest and properly referenced account of Senator Rhiannon’s political career prior to 1990 when she joined the Greens. All those efforts have been thwarted by a person called Chris Maltby, who has systematically deleted her political history prior to 1990, by suppressing any version of the Wikipedia article which might be embarrassing to Senator Rhiannon.
So what are the facts about Senator Rhiannon’s past that the NSW Greens and Mr Maltby are so keen to stop you reading?
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So Archbishop Desmond Tutu has congratulated the Marrickville Council for their temporary boycott of Israeli products. But living a Zionist-free life is actually much harder than most people probably think. This fact finally dawned on the Council earlier this year, when they were forced to concede that their attempt to boycott Israel as part of the global Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions campaign was “impractical and untenable.”
Yet last week in the Federal Parliament, the Labor Party watered down a motion moved in the House of Representatives by Julie Bishop on the issue, voting to remove the condemnation of Marrickville Council contained in the original motion.
The reasoning behind Labor’s refusal to condemn Marrickville Council remains opaque. Perhaps some Labor MPs are sympathetic to the goal of removing Zionism in all its forms from their lives, or perhaps they are just afraid to incur the wrath of their Greens allies, some of whom - including Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne - still advocate for “in-principle” support of the boycott.
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