Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bob Brown’s press club address: what about Multiculturalism?

It was not the first time I listen to the Greens leader, Sen. Bob Brown. And I am used to his empty rhetoric. I am used to his deceptive claims. And I will mention in details examples of many of these deceptive claims and lies. But today was different.

I thought that he, and his party, became more mature and inclusive. But they did not disappoint us. The Greens is still the same old Greens: one - issue and one - colored party. For I hour address, Sen. Brown failed to mention Multiculturalism even once. Not only this. The audience was very white, with no single non Anglo-Saxon present at the address.

And when Sen. Brown started to name his party achievements, these were all about: same sex marriage, euthanasia and forests clearing. Nothing about growing attack on Multiculturalism and growing racism in the society. And nothing about the very low representation of marginalized groups of migrants, non-English speaking, indigenous people and people with disabilities. Also there was nothing about progressive foreign policy, important for majority of new migrants and refugees.

For this we tell Sen. Brown and his white “Greens” party: shame on you!

In a decade where the attack on Multiculturalism is the biggest issue, Sen. Brown is demonstrating that he and his party is still living White Australia era. Or maybe they are living on other planet. As if:
- The attack on boat people is not an attack on Multiculturalism and a bid to spread racism in the society.
- The “population” debate is not an attack on Multiculturalism.
- The participation in “war on terrorism”, occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is not an attack on Multiculturalism and bid to spread Islamophobia.
- Attack on public services and welfare system is not an attack on new migrants and Multiculturalism.
- The northern territory intervention is not a racist attack on the historical and human rights of indigenous communities.

Despite the fact that Sen. Brown failed even to mention Multiculturalism, but could still claim arrogantly that he and his party is “progressive”. As we mentioned before, we believe that “actions are louder than talks”. We would not be so offended of Sen. Brown’s failure to mention Multiculturalism if the Greens did take steps to show their commitments to Multiculturalism. But the history track of the Greens is so shameful in this regard. And you need only to Google the names and pictures of Greens MPs around the country to discover they are from single ethnic background: White Anglo-Saxon.

Going back to the press club address, we can mention many observations on the conduct of Sen. Brown:
1- He was very proud of his party’s role in the biggest waste of common wealth, ie the so called “stimulus packages to waste billions of dollars on bogus projects. We are not against “wasting” common wealth, but on true nation building projects. These projects could include injecting billions of dollars into public housing to ease the critical rental crisis.
2- He was adamant that the Greens will control the “Balance of Power” in the coming senate. Well, if the latest opinion polls would be compared to the opinion polls conducted in the last Federal election, the Greens would need very good luck to maintain the current representation in the senate. There is good chance with the popularity of the first woman as PM combined with the obstructionist approach by Liberals – Greens alliance, that the voters could lean more away from the Greens.
3- Sen. Brown admitted that he made several deals with the previous regressive PM Howard, after short negotiation on cup of coffee. He is referring to the deal struck between him and Howard over full privatization of Telstra. The Greens retreated from the deal after the huge backfire against the Greens and the mounted huge public backlash. This is confirmation that vote for the Greens in this coming election could end up a vote for the extreme Tony Abbot. Sen. Brown was not shy in praising Tony Abbot and talked about him nicer than Liberal members do.
4- Sen. Brown and his party tuned down their rhetoric about asylum seekers debate. The official policy is that the Greens is opposing to mandatory detention system altogether. But the Greens leader and all other senators are talking about more humanly treatment of detainees, only. They are only against long detention, offshore detention and the high cost of this long detention. Nothing is mentioned for the last 2 years about the need to abolish this highly inhuman system.
5- While Sen. Brown described Labor and Liberals as “regressive right” forces, he stopped short from claiming the Greens to be “left”. And this is good indication that he does not want to upset the traditional historical figures inside the Greens who know very well that they are not lefties.

After this poor performance, I am not sure how new migrants and people from minor ethnic and religious groups would consider to continue voting for this one-coloured group who even fail to mention the word “Multiculturalism”. Let alone claim to have commitments toward it.

We are happy that Sen. Brown is not considering resigning soon. We want him to stay until the true face of the Greens fully exposed to voters. This needs continuous work from true progressive forces to join their force and present alternative real progressive politics to voters.

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