In a turn of events since our last issue, the Tasmanian Greens have entered a coalition with Labor. Earlier they had seemed to be preparing for a coalition with the Liberals.
This means that the Tasmanian parliament now looks a lot more like the one that was voted in—a majority Labor and Greens government. Two Greens members will sit in Cabinet, but Greens MPs will retain their ability to vote against government decisions.
The Greens acknowledged that part of the reason for their decision was that most Greens preferences flowed to Labor—indicating that most people vote Green because they want a left-wing political alternative.
Unfortunately it’s not clear that The Greens in Tasmania will provide one. Greens leader Nick McKim wants to take the party on a trajectory of compromising on Greens principles to secure decision-making power. He claims, “People want politicians prepared to move beyond any kind of petty squabbles we’ve had in the past and focus on . . . stable government and good outcomes.” Labor’s popularity has rightly suffered from their pro-big business outlook. Premier David Bartlett has been quick to reassure the forestry industry that his government will be about “economic stability”. The government has pledge to ensure the “sustainability” of the forestry industry—by which they mean their ongoing profits—and to continue its support for old growth logging, which The Greens oppose. Clashes like this pose a decision for The Greens: to water down their principles in exchange for a share of power or to look to build a real alternative politics.
By Amy Thomas