So, curtains for Bob Brown, its been quite a career. Terry McCrann clearly won’t miss him.
The rise of the Greens has been a triumph of brand promotion and Senator Brown has been the difference between jeans and designer jeans. Almost always moderate of speech and pure of heart, he has been the Dalai Lama like figure that has enabled the party to slide their usually silly manifesto past the electorate and the Canberra Press Gallery without too many taking a good look at it. “He has been a herder of cats ” (Tory Shepherd) able to make the greener Greens use the litter box.
The Greens are heir to three traditions. Bob Brown exemplifies the environmental movement. This is attractive to most city dwellers who can afford a romantic notion of the bush, it’s the banner waved to distract whilst the pea is slipped under another thimble. Bob the environmentalist has been a consistent and insistent champion of the Tasmanian Wilderness, over a long and successful political career it has been clear to all what has been dear to him. This has been his greatest strength.
The second tradition is Marxism. The fall of Soviet style communism leaves a void into which those like Lee Rhiannon can spread to rebadge red as green, Jewish coffee shops must surely be trembling in fear this morning. On the other hand North Korea, clear winners of earth hour again this year, would be looking forward to a more sympathetic hearing in a green Canberra.
Any long political career is in a sense a successful one, Bob Brown has indeed been a strong performer and to his credit, it hasn’t been achieved by deliberately telling lies. Since the Senate is the states house, perhaps we should ask if Bob’s success been shared by Tasmania. Well, he has saved it from the generation of yet more hydroelectricity, the only significant source of power in Australia unaccompanied by the production of carbon dioxide. As he leaves his state’s service it has an unemployment rate of 7.2% versus the national average of 5.2%, and is heavily subsidised getting 1.6 cents for every cent of GST collected. WA gets the least return, 0.7 cents and falling, how ironic that good and green Tasmania is subsidised by the resources boom Senator Brown so despises.
His greatest achievement federally is equally hollow, a carbon tax that will have no effect whatsoever on world temperature.
The more astute will have noticed the missing third tradition … just choose any pre-industrial society.