Thursday, November 29, 2007

A new political landscape?

I've never read any of his four million psychology/child-raising books, but Steve Biddulph has written a very interesting article in today's SMH suggesting that climate change, peak oil and growing awareness of ecological crisis will shift the political landscape over the next two federal terms to a two-party contest between Labor and the Greens, with the Liberals reduced to a minor party. I think he is right to suggest that we will only hear more about climate change (if that is possible) and peak oil (easy to hear more than almost zero) in coming years, however, I wonder whether both major parties will continue to shift to the ecological 'left', bringing into the mainstream environmental policies once viewed as extreme. I suspect that there is enough poll-driven pragmatism in Australian politics to keep the major parties alive for some time to come.

9 comments:

Adam said...

It's a virtual certainty that 'green' issues will continue to take up more space in the political landscape, and it will be interesting to see how the different players react to that. The Libs may take green issues on board as an economic and national security issue (same paradigm, different inputs), while the Greens might increasingly push an Earth-worshipping worldview. Labor might be somewhere in the middle, with perhaps a slight awareness of global social justice issues. There's a big need for a Christian voice on this pressing issue of materialism crunch. I'm glad there are dudes like you out there Byron!

Adam said...

Bit of an afterthought -- did anyone else notice the Family First election policy of lowering the tax on petrol to make it cheaper for families? Oh dear. Made me cringe.. that's not the voice I'm waiting for!

Mister Tim said...

I don't think this will happen. While environmental issues are very important and will indeed almost certainly become more important in the coming decades, there are still other issues in society. Yes - the Greens have strong views on social justice and some other issues, but I don't think they have a strong ideology that drives their agenda like the major parties (collectivist vs free enterprise and individualism). Until they find a strong ideology that gels with the public consciousness - I think they will still be a second tier party.

Still - I wonder if we might see a Greens-ALP Coalition one day..

byron smith said...

Adam: yeah, I noticed the FF petrol thing - like pouring water on an electrical fire.

Tim - yep, I'm with you. Though it will nonetheless be very interesting to follow the political fortunes of the Greens over the coming years. Their growth has been less impressive (once you take out all the old Dems voters who've jumped off the sinking ship). I thought they might do better this election by a couple of percent, rather than a fraction of a percent.

byron smith said...

PS Adam, do I know you? (outside the blogging world)

nathan said...

Yeah I read that FamilyFirst policy about the petrol excise too. It's just so wrong...

But at the same time, I can see where they're coming from. Aussie families have had suburbia packaged, marketed and sold to them for at least three generations and, now that they're hooked, many of the green responses seem like harsh punishment, especially since the wealthier parts of the city tend to be better served by public transport.

I think the Greens party in Australia still have a slightly Wacko image with a broad section of the public. I'm not sure whether the solution is to focus more singularly on the environment, or to try to be more moderate in their other policy ideas.

Adam said...

Hi Byron -- nope, we've never met -- I'm just a blow in / gatecrasher, sorry! I came across your blog via another blog (Andrew Paterson / Jubilee Man) that I found via my sister's blog ('even the smallest'). I live in Brisbane, so we've definitely never met. I enjoy your blog though - cheers for sharing your thoughts!

cyberpastor said...

I am inclined to agree with Biddulph largely because I perceive that the neo-liberalism that has such a stranglehold on Australian politics at the moment means that eco-politics is the only issue that allows for some genuine debate. While issues of health and education remain chestnuts of the traditional left, with such low levels of unemployment and the chronic affluenza that is promoted by both sides of the political spectrum, the poor and the dis-advantaged don't feature in public policy unless they can't afford a plasma TV or broadband internet.

byron smith said...

Peter Hartcher: Or we might move to a three party system.

I note Tim was on the money back in 2007 with his prediction of an ALP-Greens coalition.