As the Federal Election draws near, the future of Australian politics is gaining a strong tinge of Green. Recent Newspoll results have reported the Green’s primary vote jumping to 16 per cent.
The Australian Greens have gone from being derided as powerless pot smokers and extremist hippies to the very heart of politics. As it stands today, the Greens share the balance of power with two independent ministers. As a result, any legislation the Government wants passed and the Opposition doesn’t must get unanimous approval from them.
According to Monash University politics lecturer, Dr Nick Economou, and ABC elections expert, Anthony Green, the next election will see the Greens hold that power all on their own.
So what does this mean for the ISP filter, Telstra and the National Broadband Network (NBN)? The answer is probably less than you think.
The Greens’ communications and tech spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, is a firm opponent of the mandatory ISP filter. He and his party have rallied and spoken against it and plan to vote it down.
But as ARN’s Q&A with Tony Smith showed, the Coalition has greatly softened its stance on the issues since the previous spokesperson, Senator Nick Minchin, quit the post and politics. Indeed, the Liberal party supports the concept of a mandatory filter and is mainly held back by technical doubts.
While mainstream news is quick to broadcast scenes of bickering between the two parties, backroom negotiations and ideological similarities mean they often join forces in contrast to the Greens and other independents.
On Telstra, the Greens are largely in line with the Government. The Greens have long held the telco giant up as an example of privatisation gone wrong and will be happy to see it split up.
Given the Coalition refused to back the Government’s plans to separate the former monopoly, amendments to the telecoms reforms requested by the Greens will be given a favourable hearing. The Greens members have proved to be pragmatic negotiators in the past and will eventually strike a deal.
This leaves the NBN as the main flashpoint after the election. The Greens have been rallying hard for a vote to take place before any sale of the publicly-owned NBN Co and stand firm on the issue.
But anyone thinking Ludlam’s take on privatisation is something from the hard left should look to the business community. ISPs could never be described as a pack of raving communists and many are calling on the Government to think about keeping it in public hands.
The Coalition took a hard line on NBN and announced it would scrap the policy if elected, yet industry experts slammed the idea and backed the Government. However, equally mounting pressure on Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, to keep infrastructure costs down means he’ll be pushed by forces inside and out to sell and recoup taxpayer dollars.
The bottom line is that while the Greens will benefit from public backlash against the main parties, the party will have to fight smart to make the impact it wants on Australian IT.
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