Many months ago, Paddy Manning began planning an essay about the Australian Greens for our August issue to coincide with the party’s 25th birthday. Week by week, it became clearer that tensions which had existed from the start, but had never been resolved, were threatening to tear the party apart. The Greens’ negotiations with the government over the Gonski funding were disastrous. In response to accusations of bad faith, NSW senator Lee Rhiannon began openly taunting the party leadership. Members were becoming restless. Then came the “black swan event”: deputy leaders Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters were both forced out of parliament in the same week.
Will there even be a 25th anniversary party? Senior Greens are barely even seeing eye to eye, let alone in the mood to celebrate with each other.
“It has fallen to Di Natale to deal with a backlog of unfinished party business as long as your arm,” writes Manning in his timely essay. The party is at a crossroads, and “the make-goods and paper-overs that worked in the past are no longer working”.
Speaking of things that worked in the past, Tony Abbott, in his self-appointed role as climate-policy wrecker, is set on sowing the seeds of destruction for yet another government.
Abbott will never stop, writes Judith Brett in this issue, and Malcolm Turnbull needs to act. “If things continue as they are, Turnbull will lead the government to defeat at the next election anyway. And he will have very little to show for his time as prime minister. So what does he have to lose?”
These are messy political times, and safe decisions will produce more of the same. Turnbull would do well to put things in historical perspective, because unless he changes course, that’s where his government, too, will soon be headed.