Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has warned the Greens-Labor Coalition will face “turbulent times” following the resignation of Greens Leader Bob Brown.
The Daily Telegraph said Brown quit before the storm on carbon tax which will take effect in July this year. The paper said this is where the broader public may react badly to Brown’s departure, and where Gillard will become vulnerable.
Many will simply view this as Brown, a figure a majority of people believe is the quasi-deputy leader in a Labor-Greens alliance, leaving the sinking ship before it runs aground. Tony Abbott will make easy work of a perception that the man responsible for forcing the government to introduce the carbon tax doesn’t even want to stick around to see it start.
PM Julia Gillard accepted Brown’s resignation last week as Deputy Christine Milne took the helm, with Lower House MP Adam Bandt later voted in as her replacement. Brown will also quit as a Tasmanian Senator when his term expires in June. He will not seek re-election.
Brown said he is happy to go after 16 years in public service taking active role at the forefront of Australia’s environmental campaigns. He turned his party an icon of “innovation.”
With Brown, the Greens became Australia’s third political party and used its heft to bargain with a minority Labor Government and gain the balance of power in the Senate, The Punch commented. The Greens have also been instrumental in the implementation of the carbon tax. Brown leaves the Greens with historically high numbers in the parliament, with a total if 10 members in the House of Representatives and Senate. Brown said:
I am 67. I am aware that one should always make room for renewal in politics. A democracy is the healthier for the turnover of the depth of talent there is in its community.
He added he will leave public office to enjoy his private life, but he will remain Green as long as he lives. He said one of his upcoming plans is to visit Miranda Gibson who has been living in a tree to keep vigil on Tasmania’s forests.
However, Brown could not elude critics on his “untimely” resignation amid crumbling pubic support for Australia’s green projects. Those opposed to the carbon tax claim Brown is playing safe before the storm. The carbon tax passed in the Senate in November 2011 and will take effect in July this year. Prices of goods and services across the nation are predicted to rise as a result.
As a warning for the Labor-Greens coalition, the Labor Party was already beaten in the recent Queensland state election. The new Australian Liberal Party’s State Government is now dumping green schemes initiated by the former Labor premiere.
In Canberra, federal government offices are cutting budgets that may result in mass layoffs, reducing the number of employees and projects in areas related to environment.
National secretary Nadine Flood said that some work in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and industry assistance programs would ”simply not be done”, the Canberra Times reported.
The same paper added, “The Community and Public Sector Union, while unable to confirm the latest job cut figures, said reducing numbers to 470 would be a massive blow for staff and would seriously damage Australia’s ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.”
At the party’s Third Annual Green Oration delivered on March 23 this year, Brown addressed the “Earthians” to get involved in finding solutions to the shrinking resources of the planet in the face of rising populations.
He proposed that for the Earth to be able to survive in the next millennium, a “comprehensive Earth action, an all-of-the-Earth representative democracy is required. That is, a global parliament.” He added, “So democracy – ensuring that everyone is involved in deciding Earth’s future – is the key to success.”
The Punch’s editor-in-chief reacted to the speech as out-of-this-world political ramblings.
…the phrase “Fellow Earthians” was a deep ecologist ramble across a range of themes, including the possible existence of aliens, the disappearance of the dinosaurs, the fact that Bob saw a shooting star the other night and believed it was a portent heralding a new form of participatory democracy. It has been covered at length elsewhere and should you be up for a laugh, please read it in its entirety…
Green organizations commended Brown’s advocacy to environment, gay marriages, refugee and asylum seekers, and other issues related to social and economic equality.
SBS noted the Wilderness Society described, “Brown as an inspiring leader for the Australian environment movement and a champion of wilderness protection during the past 30 years.”
Greenpeace also said Senator Brown would be remembered by future generations for his efforts to protect Australia’s natural heritage.
“He has been a steady voice of reason in a parliament dogged by vested interests and shortsightedness,” program director Ben Pearson said in a statement.
Gay advocates have called Bob Brown one of Australia’s great gay heroes.
While Milne and Brandt take the helm of the party, the Greens are also looking for possible candidate for the June election.
A potential candidate to replace Brown would be Peter Whish-Wilson, a Tamar Valley winemaker who grew up in Karratha who claimed to have worked for BHP Billiton. He said he has experience in small business, markets and global finance which will make him a different sort of Green.
“This is the biggest opportunity for us to create jobs growth and we have to incentivise companies to do the right thing. I don’t see Tasmania just through tourism: there have to be other directions and opportunities…“I am more for opportunity than opposition,” the Financial Review quoted Whish-Wilson as saying.
The Australian said Milne will seek to establish a new political support base among rural Australians and “progressive” businesses as part of an intensified campaign against the “vested interests” of the resource-based economy.
Senator Milne has also attacked the major political parties as captives of the resources sector, and savaged the “rapaciousness” of mining companies, vowing to dedicate her leadership to hastening a transition to a low-carbon economy.