The Age has reported that Greens leader Richard Di Natale has declared he would “relish” the chance to serve as health minister in a future Labor-Greens coalition government, and suggested colleagues such as Larissa Waters could also serve in cabinet in charge of portfolios such as environment.
One of the problems with our democracy is that a party that attracted between 10% and 15% of the popular vote does not enjoy that proportion of the representation in Parliament.
One way to change the situation is to move towards electoral system is similar to that in New Zealand but it is highly unlikely that the two main parties would contemplate something that would mean an equitable power-sharing with minor parties.
One possible outcome is that there is an alliance between the Greens and Labor.
Labor is effectively the beneficiary of Greens preferences, yet has made no attempt whatsoever to incorporate any of the Green’s policies into the Labor Party policy platform, something that must irritate Greens voters who allocate their preferences to the Labor Party
The simple facts of the matter appear to be that Labor will never be able to form government without Green preferences and it might be a good time to consider recognising this political reality.
In the light of Di Natale’s comments, expect a ferocious backlash from the Labor Party. It is probably a long time before these two parties will form what appears to be very natural alliance.
So here’s the scenario.
Labor and the Greens get into bed together and work out an agreement about inner-city seats, who stands where, swapping of references and ensures that Greens voters have 15% of the representation in the lower house.
So here is the other scenario.
Centralist and left-leaning conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull decides to do a deal with the Greens. He decides that the future of the Liberal party lies in jettisoning the extreme right and the National party. It didn’t work for Tony Abbott and it isn’t going to work in the future. So he decides to do a political deal that shifts the tectonic plates.
This is the kind of transition to the future that Menzies was able to bring about for the Liberal party in the 50s.
So Turnbull forms alliance with the Greens.
This alienates the right wing of his party which splits off and forms an extreme anti-Islamic, anti-immigration, homophobic, climate denial, right wing, Cory Bernardi based splinter group whose electoral support is minimal.
The new Green/Liberal centralist party also draws in environmentally concerned members of the Labor Party.
Suddenly Turnbull has the Liberal’s party’s 40% of the primary vote plus 10 to 15% from the Greens, plus the left-wing of the environmentally concerned rural National party and an unassailable Parliamentary majority.
The people who think seriously about the future of the Labor Party in Australia should be very concerned about the scenario.
Malcolm Turnbull has the potential to transform the Liberal Party in a way that Menzies did.
He will write himself into history.
And that’s probably all he is concerned about.