Looking back over the last 12 months it is hard to imagine how much the country has changed in the intervening period.
By Senator Scott Ludlam
Looking back over the last 12 months it is hard to imagine how much the country has changed in the intervening period. We knew an Abbott Government would be bad; I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for how bad. From the day the almost all-old-white-male cabinet was announced, the Government has shown a streak of aggression, vindictiveness and industry-capture wider in scope than most people imagined.
With the tide running against us a year ago, we held all our seats and picked up a new senator in Janet Rice from Victoria. Anyone who heard Janet’s inaugural speech will appreciate how important it is to keep increasing our representation in this place, given the strength of the assault on vulnerable communities and our precious environment that this Government has set in motion.
So we didn’t want to be the state that lost out. With the WA result balanced on the finest possible margin, following a series of unpredictable and seemingly random surprises, we were pitched into a high-stakes by-election that would shape the final makeup of the Senate. The result is a credit to our party – not just the huge local mobilisation, but the national effort we were able to bring to bear: hundreds of volunteers hitting the phones around the country, morale-boosting visits from Christine, Adam and other MPs, and a dream-team of local and national campaigners throwing their time and expertise into the task. On behalf of everyone in WA: thank you.
The Party turned this momentum towards a strong result in the Stafford by-election in Queensland, and team Victoria is now gearing up to provide the only real voice of opposition between the crisis-hit Victorian Government and moribund opposition. NSW is not far behind. The more we can do to support each state in turn through campaign help, fundraising and phonebanking, the more we can lift our presence and effectiveness as the 2016 federal election comes into view.
Even as the impacts of global warming continue to break weather records, the Government has embarked on an unforgivable campaign to break the renewable energy industry on behalf of the coal and gas incumbents. The Government’s determination to make an example of vulnerable and traumatised asylum seekers – even at the cost of their lives – has veered from hostile to horrific. And the 2014–15 budget settled many peoples’ minds once and for all: this Government needs to go, and not a day later than necessary. Students, pensioners, parents, the unemployed and the homeless were pushed further to the wall while the big banks and miners had their profits protected.
Removing the Abbott Government is about more than just replacing the individuals, but resetting the political debate entirely. It should never again be possible to win occupancy of the Prime Minister’s office with climate denial. It should not be possible to win votes through orchestrated child abuse on prison islands. And attacking low-income Australians for the benefit of tax avoidance by mining multinationals should be seen for what it is: wealth redistribution, upwards, from those least able to pay. If the Greens do not step up to meet these challenges, we know that no-one else will.
On a personal note, thanks to everyone who supported team WA over the last 12 months: Rach, Christine, all the staff crew and the massive tide of volunteers who grabbed the campaign opportunity and made it their own. More importantly, for realising that this was just the beginning, and focusing on the long game. Now we apply what we learned to help our Victorian and NSW Green family in any way we can, to raise the green voice louder in a country that needs to hear it more than ever.