If one checks the policies of the Australian Greens Party ('The Greens') on its website the non-environmental conservation ones are shown with a * (see below).
Of The Greens' 44 policies, some 28 are NOT directly about environmental conservation. Many policies are about Left social justice issues such as civil rights. Nothing wrong with caring for people, but what's happening to the commitment to care for the forests - The Greens bread and butter?
The benefit of taking on a broader policy platform is that The Greens have shrugged off the stigma and core criticism of being only a single issue party (an environmentalist ('green') only party. In doing so, The Greens have become more mainstream.
The problem is that the 'green' effort has been diluted toward human issues with Left socialist and civil rights agendas, which means 'The Greens' label has become a misnomer. 'Green' has become 'Pink'. Many of its policies are now human pink.
Many environmental conservation groups seeking active support from The Greens are invariable disappointed by the thin on-ground support. The Greens do not have a mandate on conservation politics. They don't even in many cases have a contributing presence.
The Greens origins in 1972 with the United Tasmanian Group started out supporting the Lake Pedder Action Group (LPAG) in trying to save Tasmania's Lake Pedder from being flooded for hydro-electricity.
Lake Pedder was eventually flooded. The Tasmanian Greens went on to save the Franklin River in Tasmania
and on to bigger and broader causes. Many of the current policies have now nothing to do with environmental conservation and in so doing have diluted their commitment to environmental conservation.
It's no wonder that many traditional Labor voters are now aligned this political party. Conversely, it is no wonder that The Greens' dilution of conservation has created a political vacuum in environmental conservation politics in Australia.
But you be the judge...
(as at Halloween 2010):
* = policy has nothing to do with environmental conservation
Agriculture & Natural Resources
o Genetically Manipulated Organisms
o Natural Resources
o Sustainable Agriculture
Care for People
o Children and Young People*
o Drugs, Substance Abuse and Addiction *
o Immigration and Refugees*
o Indigenous Australians*
o Older People*
o Sexuality and Gender Identity*
o Social Services*
o Sport and Physical Recreation*
Climate Change and Energy
o Climate Change and Energy
o Biological Diversity
o Environmental Principles
o Marine and Coastal Areas
o Water and Inland Aquatic Environments
Human Rights & Democracy
o Community Participation in Government*
o Constitutional Reform and Democracy*
o Global Governance
o Human Rights*
o International Relations*
o Overseas Aid*
o Peace and Security*
Media, Arts & Science
o Media and Communications*
o Science and Technology*
o Corporate Governance*
o Employment and Industrial Relations*
o Global Economics*
o Sustainable Planning and Transport.
[Source: http://greens.org.au/policies ]
I make four summary observations of The Greens as follows:
1. The original environmental conservation effort of The Greens has been steadily diluted and distracted as the Party has (1) sought more mainstream acceptance and (2) invited under its wing those with non-environmental conservation agendas - I have collectively branded these 'pink' - which is intentionally open to interpretation - 'pale Red', 'alternative lifestyle', 'liberal values', 'civil rights activists', but distinguishably human focused, not environmentally focused!
Hence much of The Greens polices are now grouped under 'Care for People', 'Human Rights & Democracy', and 'Media, Arts & Science.'
The Greens are suffering a classic 'quality for quantity compromise' and in seeking mainstream popularism have become a clichéd jack of all trades and master of none. Worse, they risk alienating their original environmental conservation ideological support base.
2. Scores of socialists and humanists disaffected within Australia's dominant Left-wing party - the Australian Labor Party (ALP) have become disillusioned by Labor's gradual Center-Right direction and by its corrosive factional politics. Many have defected to The Greens. In turn they have influence the direction of The Greens and the Greens in their conciliatory habit have modified their policy effort to adopt more and more 'pink' social justice agenda. With this 'accommodation' The Greens core environmental conservation focus is being diluted by increasing 'pink' 'Left-leaning', social justice policies.
3. The core driver of environmental degradation (including pollution, habitat loss, species extinctions) is the exponential human population increase and the unchecked encouraged consumerism per capita. More people in the same area causes more pressure on the environment - simple logic!
Climate change is merely a background broad incremental consequence; it is the consequence, not the driver of the environmental problems!
Brown and his Greens have sided with the population control lobby but only in vague in-principled support. Reason for the token support is that the new pink allegiances and policies adopted by The greens have inherently compromised the ability of The Greens to achieve a consensus on a population control policy that would be effective in reducing its environmental impact.
The Greens are now beholden to its 'pink' policies on social justice, yet have failed to recognise that both social justice problems and environmental problems are compounded by excesses in human population.
4. The genteel, academic and legalese make up of The Greens leadership has shaped a group think culture of idealistic passiveness with any change management specifying a conciliatory approach. A lack of effective principled 'balls' has meant a failure to take the conservation fight to the protagonists - the selfish property developers, property speculators, stock market, the banks, the growth lobby, the big corporate exploiters, the self-sustainable captains of industry and industrialisation.
Is it then any wonder, with The Greens beholden to a 'pink' agenda displacing their environmental conservation core, that conservation groups are disaffected with The Greens and that we are experiencing the emergence of a fresh wave of political groups fill the political void?
* Australian Protectionist Party
* Stable Population Party of Australia
* Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated of which I acknowledge being an active member.
If The Greens continue down their popularist vote grabbing 'pink' path, it is only a matter of time before the critical mass of environmental conservation disaffection in The Greens realises a need for an alternative genuine 'green' party to emerge. Personally, a political wing of The Wilderness Society has best chance of achieving that. There is logic in this assessment, but that is another article.