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Lord of the Greens readies his troops for the return of the queen

Date

David Marr

Green Team ...  Bob Brown with, from left, Penny Wright, Adam Bandt, Scott Ludlam, Rachel Siewert, Larissa Waters,  Lee Rhiannon, Christine Milne, Richard Di Natale and Sarah Hanson-Young.

Green Team ... Bob Brown with, from left, Penny Wright, Adam Bandt, Scott Ludlam, Rachel Siewert, Larissa Waters, Lee Rhiannon, Christine Milne, Richard Di Natale and Sarah Hanson-Young. Photo: Andrew Meares

WHEN the Great Ent of Australian politics - more tree than man - assembled his Green team for the benefit of the press, the message of the occasion was unity, steadiness of purpose and discipline. Only Bob Brown spoke. But for Christine Milne's murmured prompts to her leader, all were resolutely silent.

En masse - perhaps an exaggeration - they present as a delegation of wide-eyed optimists off on a fact-finding mission to a dangerous land: the Congo, perhaps, or the China of Chairman Mao. They're ready but they don't know what they'll find.

Bob Brown towers over them. These senators, soon-to-be-senators and a member-elect are mostly young, neat and, it has to be said, short. The star recruit Lee Rhiannon smiled gamely while hidden behind Brown's shoulder as he pledged to bring "sparkle and innovation" to government.

You fear for them once they open their mouths. Under Gough Whitlam, Labor heavies began to speak just like their leader. John Howard's admirers soon had his Sydney drawl. It's beyond their control: the ventriloquism of power.

Brown's monotone works for Brown. He speaks for the trees and if trees could speak they would speak like him. But the wider diffusion of his unique flatline would be a harsh outcome for Australian politics. It's hard listening: the long Tasmanian "ums" and the great gaps between words.

The business of the press conference was to address media panic over the newfound leverage of the Greens. Headlines have been shrill. Brown listed almost with pride the objectives that remain still beyond his party's reach. "I did maths at Trunkey Creek public," he said when asked about reintroducing death duties. "I can see that's not going to succeed".

Right now he'd like the media to stop accusing his party of "pushing" its policies. Several journalists were corrected in half an hour's questioning. The form of words the senator prefers is "advocating the Greens agenda". He may be joking.

Standing at various points around the Parliament are ranks of wheelie bins marked "General Waste", "Co-mingle" and "Paper waste only".

They were ready and waiting should the government change. But what does it say about Canberra's morals that they are chained and locked together while waiting to be carted empty away?

Things are getting back to normal. The opposition is on message denouncing the government as illegitimate. It seems into the wheelie bins in the great throw-out on election night 2007 went all the histories of Westminster governments: all the deals, stitch-ups and odd alliances behind governments since the Glorious Revolution.

And the end of the caretaker period means the end of a long and nervous wait for Bruce Cowled, Ian Biggs, Lex Bartlem OAM and Lisa Filipetto, whose appointments were announced as high commissioner to Nauru, ambassador to Turkey, ambassador to Lebanon and ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union. While he still has the job, Stephen Smith is hard at work.

 

124 comments

  • You're going to the bottom of the pit now David Marr. You just don't seem to get that Bob Brown is one of the few politicians in Australia who actually has something to say. Your trashy journalism in this instance does not serve this man or his party well. Afraid to reveal your alliance?

    Commenter
    ianshoal
    Date and time
    September 09, 2010, 6:48AM
    • Stuff the Greens and stuff the horse they rode in on. They like the Democrats will reach their use by date with voters and I suspect we will see that in the next election which you would have to say is not too far away. The Greens have their own issues with Rhiannon now in the roost, danger signs.

      Commenter
      Ian
      Location
      Kalaru
      Date and time
      September 09, 2010, 7:15AM
      • Bob Brown is the most ethical and straight talking politician in Australia. He actually stands for something which is rare these days in the declining political gene pool. If you don't like his policies say so and make your arguments otherwise hold the cheap shots. As the media give him and his party more balanced coverage (I'm not holding my breath) they will find real people of integrity and belief in a model of Australia that is more inclusive and one that will hopefully allow our children to live on a planet that is not one big cement carpark.

        Commenter
        Ajay
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        September 09, 2010, 7:28AM
        • David: I noticed in a different article that the Greens and the indies have held out an olive branch to the Regressives in opposition to consider any policies the Regressives may put forward. The Regressive party's response was to line all the trolls up in front of any nearby microphones to pronounce Julia and the Labor government "illegitimate" and to signal that they're going to be even more combative, divisive and obstructive than ever before. They (and you David Marr) just don't get it. I'm sick to death of paying a bunch of wankers to sit in Parliament to just whinge, denigrate and carp and produce NOTHING for the nation except hatred.
          "Come senators, congressmen
          Please heed the call
          Don't stand in the doorway
          Don't block up the hall
          For he that gets hurt
          Will be he who has stalled..." Thanks to Bob Dylan
          I say to the regressive politicians in opposition: If you're not going to try to make a positive contribution, get out of the way and get out of politics.

          Commenter
          Scott H
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          September 09, 2010, 7:49AM
          • What utterly superficial pap. The Greens have enormous talent in these newly elected members. You do yourself and the nation a diservice in not inquiring into who these diverse and dynamic people are.

            Commenter
            jbucko
            Location
            orange
            Date and time
            September 09, 2010, 7:51AM
            • god help australia - dont you ALL REALISE that it is the ignorant kids who voted these guys in cause they thought it was trendy......lemmings all of them and now this guy brown has some power - this is so so so bad for all of us - only time will tell...cmon tony dont give up, save us AL!!!

              Commenter
              kevin r
              Location
              sydney
              Date and time
              September 09, 2010, 7:52AM
              • Today we have one article attacking the blokes from the bush and this article attacking the Greens.

                Well we in Australia voted these people into office and for the first time in decades the major parties do not have dominance.

                I expect over the next 3 years we will see developments in areas that would not come out of the major parties, and in my view, that is good, that is progress and that is democracy.

                No one could call major 2 party politics democracy.

                Instead of attacking the blokes from the bush and the Greens how bout the media start highlighting a bit more Abbott and his gang's tantrums. If anything this post election delay in a minor government forming shows us what the coaliation were really made of - puff, bullying, dishonesty and negativity

                Commenter
                cb
                Date and time
                September 09, 2010, 7:57AM
                • So David, not a fan then?

                  Commenter
                  Mathew
                  Location
                  Narrabri
                  Date and time
                  September 09, 2010, 8:01AM
                  • David, I know that you know how to choose your words carefully. What did you hope to achieve by describing The Greens that way?

                    Commenter
                    MikeFitz
                    Location
                    Brisbane
                    Date and time
                    September 09, 2010, 8:06AM
                    • I'm usually a fan, David. This was pretty crummy work.

                      sec code: UNCOLL

                      Commenter
                      Riddley
                      Location
                      Preston
                      Date and time
                      September 09, 2010, 8:06AM

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