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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Why the Greens will find we’re less forgiving of them

Oh, happy days… the Labor/Greens freshly elected coalition pictured in November 2020.

“Service delivery, especially to the middle, is failing around the ACT. So the middle is paying more and getting less. It is this middle who the Greens need to be most worried about because they helped them get six seats,” writes ANDREW HUGHES.

As the race for the 2024 election enters the last few months, and with the latest ACT budget replicating the federal Labor strategy of “nothing to attack here, please move on”, the real numbers game begins. 

Dr Andrew Hughes.

That is, what it will take to get the 13 seats required to govern. My current estimate (note my disclaimer here) is that Labor and the Liberals can count on 17 seats between them, nine for Labor and eight for the Liberals. Labor will struggle in Brindabella (Tuggeranong) and Murrumbidgee (Weston). The Liberals will struggle in the north in Ginninderra.

That leaves seven up for grabs. So does that mean the Greens (aka the Renters Party) can take all those seven? 

Historically, these are the best of times for the Greens. High water marks were achieved in 2020 in terms of seats won and number of votes. But that was then. This is now.

They’ve been part of the ACT coalition government (with Labor) for 12 years. The Greens have been and are part of the system. 

Like Labor, they have no excuses a Liberal government was to blame for injustice, inequity and transparency failings in the ACT. As the government, they’ve been responsible for some of those failings. 

The Greens undoubtedly have the most to lose when it comes to any party at the next election. 

Wedged hard by Labor in the centre left, and with independents starting to get their act together and attack them on governance and transparency, the magnificent seven the Greens may have been dreaming about in 2024 is starting to look shaky. 

For a Greens party in government, their failings on cost-of-living, environmental and transport policy are good reasons why they may lose three seats at the next election. 

Cost-of-living impacts two-thirds of us in a negative way. One-third are wondering what all the fuss is about, and why can’t the two-thirds just stop buying smashed avo and flat whites. But reading Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed’s columns in CityNews makes it clear that high taxes and rates are hurting those in the middle. 

Service delivery, especially to the middle, is failing around the ACT. So the middle is paying more and getting less. 

It is this middle who the Greens need to be most worried about because they helped the Greens get six seats. 

Yet the Greens seem to have forgotten about them. They have allowed for a public transport system to be stretched through chronic underfunding of buses. Buses every two hours on a Sunday in the suburbs? Yeah, that should stop climate change. 

Or how about shared paths for “active transport”? In some parts these paths are in such disrepair that Pedal Power now have a “Woeful Wednesday’s” on their socials, where people share images of horrible cycling infrastructure. 

Penalties for at-fault drivers who hurt vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, remain inadequate. 

As for other green issues in the ACT, such as developments in or next to green areas, or the collapse of soft plastics recycling or wood heaters or… you get the picture. 

As for cost-of-living relief? A decent first-home buyers’ scheme? Yeah, nah, renters party, thank you. How about an open and transparent government? 

Are we less forgiving of the Greens? Absolutely, but only because they told us they were the ones who stood for the most. They wanted us to believe in hope. Yet the pressure they apply to Labor couldn’t bruise a grape. 

Then there is campaigning. The independents, their main opponents, are starting to hit the grassroots now. In recent times there have been at least three volunteers at some of the Saturday shopping centre meet-and-greets I’ve seen, but not a Green in sight, especially south of Hindmarsh Drive. 

This level of dissatisfaction won’t translate to votes directly for the majors. But if the Greens support drops to their 2016 levels, which I think it might, then there are potentially 10,000 votes of opportunity for the independents. That could flow on to the majors through preference flows. 

The independents are still divided though. They’ve got to get it together and be far more united. If they can, maybe three to four seats could eventuate. 

As it stands, who takes the magnificent seven will likely decide the outcome of the next election. And who they end up being may even be worthy of a movie of the same name one day.

Dr Andrew Hughes is a lecturer in marketing with the Research School of Management at ANU where he specialises in political marketing and advertising. 

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One Response to Why the Greens will find we’re less forgiving of them

David White says: 3 July 2024 at 5:57 pm

Dr Hughes is spot on re cycling and active transport infrastructure. The Greens are a miserable failure on these once ‘core Green’ issues. They spend more time and effort promoting motor sports nowadays. Once rusted-on Green voters are now looking elsewhere for candidates, with what were once Green values, to vote for.

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