Wednesday, August 10, 2005

National and the farmers - a Green ally?

John (Howard) has been freaking about the Nats. And considering he's been freaking about the greens as well, this may mean "interesting political sideshows ahead". Which is in keeping really, with Australia's global sideshow status.

This month, as mainstream press have dutifully been reminding us all for the last ten months but seem to have overlooked now that it's here, is a "turning point" in Australia (another one, Howard might be a straight but the road he's mapped is all twists and hair-pin back flips). This month, Howard's co-alition takes control of the senate. It has all been sworn in. For the first time since anyone can remember (apparently the political memory of the voting populace is only about two weeks long, this is why all John Howard's election campaigns are relatively mundane till the last two weeks before tarring and feathering whichever scape-goat is going to keep him on the throne begins) where was I, oh yes, for the first time ever since anyone can remember, "the govunmint" has a majority in both the senate and that other place they do power things in (excuse limited knowledge, am just a voter) and now Howard's even eviler wicked reign has begun. Essentially, he has a majority of seats in both the upper and lower houses and theoretically this means that he can pass whatever he damn well likes and do whatever he damn well wants and screw whoever he damn well - anyway that's what he thinks.

That's what he thinks, but that may not be what he gets. Because the co-alition making up his government majority is just that - a co-alition. And the "smaller" co-alition member, the Nationals, who represent basically farmers and rural districts, have been soaked up by the shadow of it's larger co-alition member for pretty much a decade now. And they have people of their own to represent, and an identity, and "roots" that not all of them seem real thrilled about loosing to Howardian neosimilation. And they might just kick in their heels you know, seeing as Howard has started all throwing around his weight now, they might just kick in their heels and stick to their own principals.

The Prime Minister has fired a warning shot at National Party rebels, telling a Coalition party meeting that nothing is more vital to the Government's success than unity.

With relations between the Coalition partners at their lowest ebb since 1996, John Howard pointedly reminded the Nationals yesterday that the Liberal Party was the senior partner read the rest

And this is where the greens come in. What, you may ask, common ground could the Nats and the greens possibly find - aren't they at "loggerheads"? Well no. The greens and the Nats aren't especially at loggerheads. It's a common misconception to think the two have fundamental shortfellings were trees are concerned, but actually most agricultural land clearing was at a peak a century or two ago and the bulk of land clearing that's gone on since is less in aid of farm landclearing and more in aid of exotic timber furnishings (Tasmanian).

It's the logging industry that the greens have been at loggerheads with, not the farmers. And the logging industry's employees, by extension, are the laboring woodsmen, which Labor represents. And which the logging industry always tries to scare away from the greens by singing "you would rather have an axe then a plow". Which is why the greens and Labor have not teed up together with a co-alition of their own (if they had, they would have won several elections off John Howard). And which is why, when friction is teasing the edges of Johno's co-alition, the greens and the Nats make plausible allies. Think about it - green policy is compatible with farm management. Farmers have a shocking time of it out here, it's dry as - the place is a desert. It's tough, and those guys know the landscape, they know the weather, they've been watching and living in it for decades, generations in some cases. They know the climate is causing them strife, and some of them are beginning to look at "other" land management practices. They are tired of squeezing water out of stones, and are willing to try anything to "get some green". The greens on the other handshake, are an environmentally conscious party, their concerns also revolve around water conservation, and power generation that is compatible with the landscape and maintaining peoples lives within it, and of course, planting and growing stuff. Just like farmers !

Of course, multinationals pushing genetically modified seed will go into smear campaign overdrive if they get even a whiff of this, they rely on desperate climate squeezed farmers handing over bucks for grain with no questions asked. Well, that could all change too. That could all change, because the Nationals are pretty strong on locally grown produce, whether it be telecommunications or linseed, and this is compatible with green policy - grow local, think diversity.

Oh you may laugh now.

(Read all the links if you want to find out how Australia "does it").

The Nats crumpled on Telstra and sold out. Hmm, so. If the Nats do some more things like this to help disenfranchise their voters, maybe their voters will start looking to the greens. If you ask me, and I know you haven't, it maybe time the greens revisited their rural roots - because that's where a good deal of them come from.

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