Note: The order of this piece has been reordered since it was first published. For the context that led to this piece read"Media Politics' below.
Greens stick up for journalism and independent media
Firstly, I'm voting Green in this election because I'm a journalist.
This might seem like an odd thing for a journalist to say but it's true. I'm also also voting Green because I'm a feminist and for a range other reasons.
Here's a few more thoughts on the subject.
It’s quite simple really.
When I vote tomorrow, I’ll vote for a candidates whose policies I support.
This is why I’m voting Green.
After the last election, News Corp's The Australian declared that The Greens are 'bad for the nation'. (Abbott said that about the minor parties again tonight). News Corp's aim since the Greens did well in 2010 has been to see them 'destroyed at the ballot box'.
I'm voting Green because I disagree with News Corp. At this turning point in our history, we desperately need a voice for progressive policies.
You can't have a democracy without media freedom and a 'public right to know' in a practical sense. The public won't have a right to know if we don't have strong journalism, whether it is done by citizens or professional journalists. Vast swathes of Australia have very little strong journalism in their local communities.
For decades I have watched both Labor and Liberal National parties allow Rupert Murdoch, talkback radio hosts and commercial television companies to become increasingly unaccountable and abuse their power.
The Greens have used their voice in parliament to speak out for media freedom and diversity and against these abuses of power. I don't necessarily agree with all their solutions but they were courageous enough to pursue the issue.
It was ex-Greens leader Bob Brown who first called the media and political sexism against Julie Gillard an unacceptable form of political abuse. (There was a typo at this point in my original posting that said 'acceptable' not unacceptable'. Thanks to Colin Charlton for pointing this out.)
It was the Greens who extended the all important journalists' protection for their confidential sources to bloggers and other non mainstream journalists. They did their best to strengthen whistleblower laws which were eventually passed by Labor in the dying days of Julia Gillard's prime ministership.They have a suite of media policies, including a plan to strengthen community radio and support the tax deductibility for donations to independent and investigative journalism.
And then there are my other reasons. At the forefront is climate change. It is indeed 'the moral challenge' for our generation.
I grew up in the mid 20th century when sustainability was barely a word and the holocaust was the unbearable crime that caused the death of millions. Now millions of humans and entire species and ecosystems are threatened by changes to our climate which 97.2% of climate scientists say are caused by humans. Yet as an ACIJ report soon to be published will demonstrate, advocacy of climate skepticism forms the majority of climate change coverage in some of News Corp's biggest publications and right wing talkback radio programs. You can call it propaganda - or you can call it the production of ignorance. It is very unlikely that this campaign against climate science has not had some political effect.
The Climate Institute has done an assessment of three parties according to how they rank on climate change . Greens score far more highly than Labor which scores far higher than the LNP. Labor supports large fossil fuel subsidies and massive expansion of coal. These funds could be used to transition more rapidly to renewables or to fund a Newstart rise or our universities.
Greens support reproductive rights for women
Then there is gender. The Greens have a program of feminist action and support full reproductive rights which despite years of government, Labor has never put in place.
I didn’t support all Gillard’s policies but I was sickened by the unrelenting campaign of sexism that was aimed at destroying her. After the messy business of getting rid of her was over, Rudd and new Deputy Anthony Albanese went out of their way to step away from gender. If they’d ever had my vote, they would have lost me at that moment.
Greens strong support for public education and universities
Greens along with my union the NTEU have campaigned strongly on uni cuts. For years, I’ve watched classes getting bigger, curricula constrained and rights of academics to play a part in decision making eroded as universities endlessly adapt to permanent underfunding. Students have to work in paid employment for so many hours that they barely experience what my generation took for granted - higher education as a time to reflect, grow and have fun.The least well off are penalised more.
I’m 66 and I've seen several people spend some rotten last days. I’m a strong believer in euthanasia. I would like to think that I would have the courage to peacefully exit a life that had become unbearable for myself and costly to others. The Greens candidate for NSW Cate Faehrman has an outstanding record on this issue as well as feminism and environmental protection.
An independent foreign policy
My early political involvement was against the war in Vietnam. I thought we would learn our lesson not to follow the US into unjust and futile wars But since the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975, Labor and Liberal have been willing partners in turning us into a client state.. Hundreds of thousands of us demonstrated before we went to war based on lies in Iraq.
Since then, only the Greens have stood up for foreign policies which could remotely be called independent. Recently they have campaigned to stop the Labor and Liberal parties from being complicit in war crimes in Sri Lanka.
I cringed when Julia Gillard told the US Congress that we collectively admired US President Reagan. That's not what I remember. When she branded Wikileaks' Julian Assange a traiter, the Greens stood up to defend him.
Importance of Grassroots campaigns
I don’t believe all necessary social change will come through parliamentary politics – cooperatives, community grassroots organising and direct action are important.
A voice for human rights
I don’t know how Greens will go in this election. I’m not in the business of political prediction. But one thing I do know – whether LNP or as seems extremely unlikely, Labor win this election – we desperately need the loudest possible political voice in Canberra for human rights and progressive policies right now.
Holding power accountable
It is unlikely that the Greens will govern in their own right in my lifetime but social justice certainly won't be achieved if you don't go for it. Elected Greens will sit on parliamentary committees, ask question in estimates, make parliamentary speeches on issues that the major parties ignore, move bills and get more opportunity to speak publicly than most of us. We need their voice and they need supporters holding them accountable when they make mistakes. We need to make sure they stay linked with grassroots community movements.
Don't vote for those who persecute asylum seekers
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned asylum seekers so far. I'll simply put it this way. There is no way I could cast a vote for a candidate that supports policies that punish innocent, vulnerable people by cruelly deporting them to countries that have been impoverished by Australia's inadequate policies. We’re paying billions to two of the world’s most objectionable companies, Serco and G4S, to hide from our own social responsibilities. If it depended on that issue alone, I wouldn’t be voting Labor or Liberal.
I notice that Labor politicians, irritated by the chorus of condemnation from hundreds of human rights, advocates and church groups have started talking about humanitarianism as being some sort of faux indulgence. The idea that we so easily slide past reports of human rights abuses makes me wonder whether we have moved into a new form of governance in which it’s fine to punish innocent people so long as it meets our short term goals
It frightens me that we journalists have allowed allegations about the treatment of asylum seekers on Four Corners and then Dateline to be swept aside without insisting on accountability. Which brings me back to the media itself which is, as I explained earlier, at the heart of democracy.
Don't let anyone tell you not to vote for a minor party. Federally, we have a preferential system. Your preferences have to end up somewhere if your candidate doesn't win. My preferences will end up with Labor because I regard their policies on health and education as somewhat better than the LNP. You make your own choices. ( Note: This is not the case in NSW elections where you don't have to allocate preferences in the lower house; and where you can nominate a limited number of preferences of your choice in the Upper House.)
If you vote Greens you will be part of a signal that a significant proportion of Australians do support progressive policies. Greens may even hold the balance of power. If people had not supported and voted Greens over the years, we would not have had a progressive force in Australian parliaments.
I have hoped for social justice and radical change all my adult life. For years, I’ve put up with Labor supporters looking me in the eye and arguing that those who didn't support the ALP were 'tories' or closet Liberals. They knew that was a lie. These sort of deceptive tactics unfortunately are now deeply embedded in Labor's culture.
In this 2013 Federal election, I'll preference Labor because at end of day the ALP has better on education, NBN, healthcare, gender and work rights than the LNP. I’ll put right wing nationalist and anti-environment parties like the Shooters and Fishers Party down the bottom.
Note added later:
Both Grayndlerand Sydney Greens candidates Hall Greenland and Diane Hiles got solid votes but were defeated at the 2013 election. We failed to elect a second Greens Senator in NSW. Adam Bandt won the seat of Melbourne for the second time. New senators were elected in Victoria, South Australia and in Western Australia, Scott Ludlam was reelected. I am not a member of the Greens but I continue to support Greens because I strongly support their policies. I'm joined in each election by many thousands of voters. Many younger voters have only ever voted Green.
In retrospect, I think I may have been a little pessimistic about future possibilities for the Greens in this piece. Who knows what will happen in the next 30 years? Four years ago, NoNuCoal and disinvestment in fossil fuels seemed like fringe ideas. Already, hundreds of people turn up to events to discuss these issue. Thousands of citizens take place in blockades and protests. Some institutions like ANU and University of Sydney are already taking action.
It's very possible, as we have seen, for Greens to hold the balance of power and for my part, I think that would be a very good thing. We have seen that they can win lower house seats and act as an opposition in Senate and Upper House. It would certainly be a very good thing for NSW if the Greens and Independents held the balance of power where both LNP and Labor have been involved for decades in corruption and deals with developers and other vested interests.
Today I published a piece, This Is Why We Need Truly Democratic Media, in New Matilda about media coverage in this election campaign and why it highlighted that whatever happens tomorrow, we have a big political problem in Australia with our media. Most of that story focussed on a Get Up ad that was politically censored and an interview with Fairfax Media Chairman Roger Corbett, an admirer of John Howard and a Liberal party donor and member. The interview was by Lateline's Emma Alberici who is a an interviewer whose style I have admired because its more inquiring and less based on assumptions than most others at the ABC. She often makes me think but this whole incident really troubled me.
After the interview, Corbett's scathing assessment of PM Rudd was selected out as a major news story. Some said he shouldn't have done the interview because he is head of Fairfax Media, a major media company. I think that's a red herring as Corbett does not tell journalists what to write - the constraints on embattled print corporate journalism are much more subtle than that. (See the ref in the New Matilda article to my chapter in Left Turn published last year). My argument is that as a known Liberal party supporter and previous very active supporter of the Howard coalition government, he shouldn't have been invited to do the key interview at all, or at least not without backgrounding the audience. It turned into a big free kick for Abbott. Read about his business and political background in my piece and make up your own mind.