We’re on a roll

Australian Greens

Well, what a year it’s been. In this adapted version of his welcome speech to last month’s National Conference, Adam Bandt shares some of our wins and losses of 2020 – as well as our unwavering drive to boot out the climate-wrecking Liberals at the next election.

By Adam Bandt

Climate

Well, Donald Trump is out and Joe Biden is in. Fascism has been stopped and science is making a comeback.

And the science is clear that 2030 is the main game, not 2050. Or even 2300, which is when we will get to net zero on the Liberals’ current trajectory.

It all comes down to the next ten years.

Scientists have said loud and clear that if we don’t get the pollution from coal, oil and gas under control and take serious action before 2030, we won’t be able to control the chain reactions that will be set off.

Climate change will become irreversible.

The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed to the Parliament under questioning from our Green senators at Estimates that the world is on track for 3.4 degrees and for Australia. That means a 4.4 degree increase by the turn of the century.

If we don’t apply maximum pressure to the Labor and Liberal parties in this next election to rapidly bring down pollution in the next ten years, the future looks tough.

  • 92 percent decline in irrigated agriculture in the Murray Darling Basin. Our food bowl will be reduced to growing predominantly cotton
  • One in six animals in the world will become extinct
  • Penrith’s maximum temperature this year reached 48.9 degrees. That will happen ten times a year
  • Vast dead zones in the ocean. No more coral reefs and the loss of all crustaceans
  • The end of the Boxing Day Test and relaxed summer barbecues

Australia faces both a jobs emergency and a climate emergency.

What this country needs is a bold and ambitious plan to deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs – which not only get Australia back towards full employment, but through this collective, day-to-day work we can also prevent the climate crisis.

That is precisely what the Greens will be working on as we head into the next election, where we will be putting our jobs and climate plan front and centre in the public’s mind.

Our goal is simple: to boot out the Liberals and give Labor and Greens voters a choice. What would they prefer a Labor only government that is in the pocket of the coal and gas industry, or the Greens pushing Labor to do better?

The more support the Greens get, the bolder Labor will be on climate.

By kicking the Liberals out and pushing Labor, we can go further and faster to make sure we can meet the climate and jobs challenges that we face.

Building massive popular support and awareness of this critical decade and the huge jobs-rich potential embedded in it is the only way we can get the Coalition and Labor to lift 2030 targets to match the science of what is required.

Biden’s policies start to match the science of what is required, and by tying jobs with climate he won both fracking states and progressive, renewable states.

The Biden win is part of the fight against inequality and our fight must continue here.

Tax cuts

The recent debate over tax cuts for millionaires showed the true colours of the Morrison government and Labor.

We asked the Parliamentary Budget Office – an independent institution created in the Greens power sharing Parliament – to do some budget analysis for us on the tax cuts.

There have been three rounds of tax cuts since 2017, so we asked them to tally it all up and tell us into whose pockets that money is going.

The total cost out to 2030 is a staggering $325 billion. To put that figure in perspective, the amount of money the federal government will spend on all public schools over that same period is around $120 billion.

The final year we asked the PBO to cost was 2030. In 2030 alone, those tax cuts will suck $43 billion out of public services – three times what they will spend on our public schools in that year.

As if this hit to quality universal public services isn’t enough, the PBO analysed who will get this torrent of cash.

The poorest 20 percent will get 0.1 percent.

Yes, you heard me right. Only one-tenth of one percent of this $325 billion will go to the fifth of the population with the least amount of money.

The average Australian – the group in the middle – gets a humble 15 percent of these tax cuts.

But here is the kicker: the wealthiest fifth of the population will have $189 billion put in their bank accounts instead of invested into medical equipment and beds in our public hospitals; or free lunches, free books and teachers in our public schools; or ensuring people who have lost their jobs aren’t thrown below the poverty line.

The tax cuts that Liberal and Labor voted for cost the public purse $325b, and they’re delivering 58 percent of that cash to the wealthiest 20 percent and only 0.1 percent to the poorest 20 percent.

These tax cuts don’t just strip money away from public schools and hospitals – they make inequality worse.

The rich get richer, the poor get nothing and there’s less money in the kitty for public schools, hospitals and investment.

This money should be spent on public schools, public health and job-creating projects like public housing that tackle the economic crisis while making Australia more equal.

These tax cuts – supported by every party and every MP in the Parliament except the Greens – are frankly disgusting.

With a million people unemployed and many more struggling to find secure work, it is now just the Greens who are left fighting in Parliament to put the millions ahead of the millionaires.

And soon enough, everyday people will find out these tax cuts have done nothing for them except make public services more scarce and more expensive.

Thanks to Liberal and Labor, we will see economic inequality on steroids over the coming decade.

But it’s not too late. The worst of the tax cuts is stage 3, which doesn’t kick in until 2024. That will be after the next election. Our electoral goals are clear. Turf the government out, put the Greens into shared power and implement a Green New Deal. In that scenario, we will fight to stop Stage 3 from coming into effect and instead invest that money in public schools, public health and nation-building, job-creating projects.

Labor voted Stage 3 into law, but after we’ve changed the government at the next election, we’ll push them to join the Greens and end this flat-tax trickle-down nightmare that will see someone on the minimum wage pay the same rate of tax as a CEO on $200,000 a year.

And of course this is money that Treasury doesn’t even have, as Liberal and Labor have us going into debt to give handouts to millionaires.

The Greens instead want government to directly create jobs, build public infrastructure, clean up our economy and improve people’s lives, paid for by making corporations pay their fair share of tax and borrowing wisely. This is what sets the Greens apart from other parties, and that is why we have seen in recent elections around the country a surge in seats held by the Greens.

Green successes

This is what the Greens have been focusing on – and that is why we have seen in recent elections around the country a surge in seats represented by the Greens.

There have been some amazing electoral wins recently, which we can both learn from and inspire us.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Greens overcame Jacinda mania by drawing on their role in government and making it clear that you need the Greens in there as a guarantee that Labor won’t backslide on environmental protection without us there.

Their vote went up, their seats went up, they won their first local electorate and even though they weren’t required to, Ardern’s government offered them Greens ministries.

Next was the ACT. The Greens have been in government there with Labor for the past 12 years, in Cabinet for the past eight, and bucked the trend of long-serving governments with a massive swing towards us and we tripled our representation in both the Assembly and Cabinet. We now have three Greens ministers!

Because of this huge endorsement for the Greens role in government, Shane Rattenbury and the team can now build on the ACT’s 100 percent renewables with their ambitious commitments to phase out fossil fuel gas in the ACT by 2045 or sooner, build large-scale batteries, and massively increase the number of zero-emissions vehicles in the city. Greens in government get things done.

Then in Queensland, we doubled our seats through a strong grassroots campaign. Congratulations to Amy MacMahon and the whole Queensland team, and a special shout-out to the remarkable 10 percent swing in Cooper. And Michael Berkman’s primary swing of 13.5 percent proves the rule in Newtown, Balmain and Melbourne that when a local community votes a Green in, they like what they get.

Finally, while it was overshadowed a touch from the U.S elections, local council elections in Victoria saw a record high 36 seats won by the Greens.

For the first time, we have an outright majority on Yarra Council within my electorate – with 5 out of 9 councillors – possibly the first majority Greens government anywhere in the world, but certainly not the last.

Plus we also made great gains in regional Victoria, with the highest vote in a Geelong Ward and many seats won for the first time while we doubled our representation in the suburbs.

We’re on a roll, so let’s keep on rolling into more electoral success.

Hero image: Julian Meehan.

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