Originally posted on the electioneering blog – an initiative of Vibewire
This election period has been characterised by budgie smugglers and pearl necklaces. It has been widely described as the most mundane, monotonous and boring election in Australian history.
This election is anything but boring.
This election holds the remarkable possibility that one of Australia’s most progressive parties will hold the balance of power in the Senate. It heralds the prospect that for the first time since 2002 a single party may wield the balance of power, and that the Greens will gain extensive influence over bills passing through the Senate.
So where has Bob Brown been during all of this wild speculation and increasingly dramatic rhetoric surrounding Gillard and Abbott’s joust for Prime Ministership?
Whilst Gillard’s face is plastered all over Women’s Day and we’re reminded almost daily about Abbott’s fondness of speedos; where is Brown in the spectacle?
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Brown’s reluctance to engage in the petty name calling and meaningless verbal diahorea that often fills our papers (and I have no desire to see him in speedos)… but some serious policy would not go amiss.
Brown – the Australian voters are heading towards you in hoards!
With Gillard proving just as feeble as Rudd on climate change, and in the light of her idiotic proposition to dump asylum seekers in (a less than willing) East Timor; progressive voters are turning to the Greens for real policy. Policy which promises a sustainable future. Policy which protects the most vulnerable, not turfs them out. Policy which is has been well formulated and considered, and not merely reactionary drivel.
The Greens claim to offer all this, but where is Brown to convince us of their merit? To defend them against hippie, tree-hugging accusations? To give us a face to connect with, and instil our trust in? To insist that this be a three-party election, and not just a two-party talk-fest?
On Lateline when discussing preference deals Brown made a pertinent comment. He referred to it as a “perverse system” which should be “abolished”, but conceded that “the Greens take part in it the same as every other political party” none the less. It is this feeling of reluctant participation that characterises the Greens election campaign and Brown’s notable absence.
Bob Brown is one of the few politicians whose integrity has not been consistently challenged, even by his opponents. One of the reasons for this is his prudence when it comes to engaging in petty public debates.
That’s not to say that Brown has ever been camera shy or held his tongue when justice has been compromised.
His outspoken opposition to the Northern Territory Intervention was both admirable and courageous.
His persistent commitment to international peace and environmental conservation has earned him the Australian peace prize.
Bob Brown tried to claim his place in the leaders debate and was knocked back. If the two big parties won’t acknowledge the increasing importance of the Greens, then Brown needs to step up and explain to the Australian public in no uncertain terms that whichever way the election swings, the Greens will be playing a pivotal role in future political decisions.