Hall Greenland: “The best opposition to Abbott is The Greens”

Hall Greenland, a longtime left-wing activist, is The Greens candidate for the seat of Grayndler in Sydney’s inner west. Hall participated in the Freedom Ride for Aboriginal rights and the movement against the Vietnam War as a student.

He was a member of the Labor Party for 22 years before being expelled for supporting radical Labor councilors Nick Origlass and Isssy Wyner in Leichhardt. He went on to become one of the founding members of The Greens in Sydney and has been involved in numerous local campaigns, notably the campaign to save Callan Park. Solidarity spoke to him about his campaign.

What are the key issues for your campaign in Grayndler?

Education’s a big one whether it’s the cuts to the higher education sector or cutting aid to the wealthiest private schools and boosting investment to public schools, 100 per cent renewables and no new coal or CSG projects, in terms of industrial relations, it’s about time workers getting the right to industrial action back rather than the very circumscribed rights now.

We’ll also be calling for a boost to Newstart and the restoration of single parent pensions, fixing the mining tax and a super profits tax on the big four banks, and all in all saying that Australia’s wealthy enough for everyone to have a better life, with more say at work, job security, parental leave, decent public transport, public housing, and a clean planet.

An Abbott government after the election in September appears more and more likely. How are you dealing with this threat?

Simply by saying that the best opponent you can get for the Abbott government is The Greens. The best principled, active opposition is The Greens and you can always give your second preference to Labor to absolutely guarantee that no votes go the Liberals.

In terms of The Greens relationship to Labor, do you think the party got too close to the Labor government through its Agreement with Julia Gillard?

I think most Greens would agree that it was a good choice to support a minority Labor government in 2010 and that it did have some positive impacts like the clean energy package, Denticare, an inquiry into high-speed rail, and at least a debate on the commitment of troops to the unwinnable war in Afghanistan. But we could have been, and I think most Greens think we could have been, more critical of some of the worst excesses of the Gillard government as the months rolled on, and its Howard-era policies.

Hall Greenland, Greens candidate for Grayndler

Why should people vote for The Greens as a party to the left of Labor?

Labor is virtually without any progressive voices, its old left wing, limited as it was, seems to have all but disappeared. It’s part now of the neo-liberal consensus, it’s no threat whatsoever to the status quo, it is Howard-lite in so many of its policies and on some policies like on refugees, worse than Howard.

One of the things about voting Green is you send a message to the Gillard Labor Party that it must break with the neo-liberal, reactionary consensus in Australian mainstream politics.

Grayndler is one of the most enlightened, politically advanced electorates in the country. But it has not got a representative that articulates majority views on a whole range of issues, whether it is cuts to single parents payments and funding for higher education, the Intervention in the Northern Territory, treatment of refugees, or aid to the wealthiest private schools. In that very old fashioned way, to get a democratic advocate, is one of the key reasons I’m running in Grayndler.

How will your campaign direct preferences?

The Greens in Grayndler have always recommended a second preference to Labor ahead of the Coalition. I don’t expect that will change but it is a decision that the members in Grayndler will make closer to the election.

How do you think The Greens should respond after the election, especially if we do end up with Tony Abbott as Prime Minister?

If there is an Abbott government it will be necessary to campaign to stop some of the inevitable excesses of that government. And we know from Australian history whether it was against the penal clauses and the old industrial laws, the Vietnam War, or saving James Price Point recently over in Western Australia, that extra-parliamentary campaigning, does work.

We know it in Grayndler around things like saving Callan Park from the developers. So it’s going to be necessary to be out on the streets. The Greens have their origins in extra-parliamentary public campaigning and we haven’t forgotten those lessons. We are still involved in campaigns like the movement against CSG. So I’d expect the Greens to be fully involved in any resistance to the Abbott government.

HALL GREENLAND IS SPEAKING AT KEEP LEFT 2013 on Gillard, Abbott and voting with our feet

Get your tickets and check out the full program at keepleft.info


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