There is a piece by Miranda Devine worth reading in the Sydney Morning Herald today on the problematic nature of increasing support for Greens, and the risk that it might translate into them achieving the balance of power in the Senate in the upcoming Federal elections.
A pox on both their houses
Green support has risen in the last few weeks as voters essentially say a pox on both their houses.
Despite some promising early signs, and a strong economic response to the Global Financial crisis that almost certainly saved Australia from collapsing with the rest of the pack, the Rudd Labor Government has proved less than competent when it comes to service delivery.
Worse still, it has abandoned many of its major policy planks, leaving it looking devoid of any principles whatsoever. Mr Rudd has perhaps forgotten that even though the former Prime Minister Mr Howard was renowned for his ability to respond to the tides of public opinion, he also won Australians over by his willingness to stand up for his own ideas, starting with his principled stand on gun control. Australians do actually like their leaders to lead (within certain limits)!
But perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin is that many fear that the super tax on resources will undermine Australia's current prosperity - because whatever its merits in terms of pure economic theory, the timing seems less than smart when the world economy is so volatile.
All that should have been good news for the Opposition Liberal-National Coalition now led by Tony Abbott. Except that the party (or at least its leader) that used to (like six months ago) stand for lower taxes suddenly decided that it was against all big taxes - except the ones that it would introduce, such as to fund for example paid maternity leave for women in the workforce. And to revert to extremist (and undeliverable) policies on the treatment of asylum seekers (because attempting to tow boats back to where they came from worked has worked so well in the past - resulting in hundreds of deaths due to exploding and sinking ships).
Abbott's other issue is his front bench. The Labor Party has a number of extremely competent Ministers (albeit currently largely squashed by Rudd's media hogging/I don't want to know style) and potential Prime Ministerial contenders. Abbott's frontbench (and back bench for that matter) by contrast is strewn with dangerous loonies (Bronwyn Bishop, Barnaby Joyce and many more) and idiots (the prospect of Joe Hockey as Treasurer will scare anyone who has seen him at work). When an egomaniac like Malcolm Turnbull staying on in Parliament seems a positive thing for the party, you really have to worry!
Come back Democrats, all is forgiven....
The problem of course is that there is no third party with any real political base or credibility in Australia. The Australian Democrats self-destructed some years back over the GST, and have been replaced numerically in the Senate at least by the Greens.
But as Miranda Devine points out, the Greens are no moderate third party, dedicated to 'keeping the bastards honest'. Far from it, they are extremist eco-warriors who blocked Rudd's carbon tax scheme because it was too moderate!
An interesting test of their ability to compromise is of course currently underway in the governing coalition in Tasmania. Whether or not it will run long enough for voters to assess its success or otherwise before we actually have to vote federally however is questionable.
Finding someone one can responsibly vote for, and who actually has a chance of getting up, in the upcoming Federal elections is looking harder and harder.