Friday, December 04, 2009

Will Clive Hamilton win Higgins for the Greens?

Clive Hamilton is running as the Greens candidate for the "blue ribbon" Liberal seat of Higgins in inner suburban Melbourne. Clive is the author of several books, including Affluenza and Scorcher: The dirty politics of climate change.

Labor decided to not run a candidate. Their motives for this are not clear but it seems they think the seat will be held by the Liberals so it is a waste of their effort.

But Tony Abbott's recent ascendency to opposition leader, thanks have changed.

The residents of Higgins would be justified in feeling abandoned by Peter Costello, and many would be greatly concerned by the Liberal Party's lurch to the right under Tony Abbott, and several recent statements for prominent liberals denying that climate change is happening.

The Liberal candidate is a political animal whose CV includes a stint in right wing student politics at Melbourne University - where she attempted unsuccessfully to shut down the Environment Office - then time in Peter Costello's office as a staffer. She fits the mode of "born to rule and done my party political time".

She is presenting as a "local candidate interested in local issues" and refuses to comment in any detail on climate change and what she will do about it.

In reality, if elected she will become just another muppet on the backbench, silent for most of the time and voting for the Liberal party line. So much for democratic representation.

The question is how many "rusted on" Liberal voters will vote for her? It seems likely that there will be swing against the Liberals based on public concerns about climate and change and the lack of any coherent Liberal/Coalition policy on this topic, and the recently vocal "denialists" such as Nick Minchin and his gang who recently "took out" Malcolm Turnbull.

It is interesting to note that while Turnbull did take a principled stand on climate change he backed a loser with the CPRS - which has been so heavily corrupted by industry handouts and exclusions (such as petrol and agriculture) - that it will not reduce Australia's emissions.

Getting back to Higgins, voters have a clear choice between a candidate that stands for real action on climate change and one who is really only interested in her political career in the Liberal Party.

I predict:
  • a 3% swing against the Liberals, but they will retain the seat 54/46 two party preferred
  • the Liberal primary vote will fall to 48% - which will be a significant outcome in itself
Let us hope that the good voters of Higgins send a clear message on climate change to our politicians. If Clive Hamilton is elected (I will be happy to be proven wrong on this) it will send schockwaves through both Labor and Liberal parties.

It will also help us avoid the end of the world as we know it.

It will also bode well for the Greens prospects in other seats in the 2010 Australian federal and Victorian state elections.

1 comment:

Peter Campbell said...

Postscript: The Liberals retained the seat, but their primary vote did not drop below 50% so they were not forced to preferences. It is hard to draw conclusions from voting patterns but it is clear that the Greens in a two cornered contest in this type of seat are still a long way off winning. It also seems that a significant proportion of both Liberal and Labor voters will not currently shift their vote to the Greens.