Tomorrow I'm going to be voting 1 Green. No surprise there right? I mean come on Sam, you're a lefty pinko commie terrorist appeaser, and about 10% of people are doing the same thing anyway! If anyone was voting green it would be you.
Many of those people are doing it to register a protest vote against the major parties (usually Labor). They wouldn't actually want the greens in government, they just want to scare the incumbents into doing a better job than the last 3 years.
The central claim at work here is that the Greens would be very bad economic managers; that their actual policy, if implemented would be so unbalanced in it's treatment of the environment/economy tradeoff, they would destroy the country. We would be "up to our necks in owls, and out of work for every Australian" to paraphrase George H W Bush.
When people say this, I often ask them what particular Greens policies they think would cause this. I can't see much that would harm the Australian economy, and they would get rid of some very bad policies which stupidly have bi-partisan support.
Take their carbon reduction strategy. They want to implement a very modest, $23 a ton, nearly revenue neutral carbon tax, with a slight overcompensation only to the poor. The average Australian uses about 18 tonnes per person per year, so would have to pay less than $450 extra a year in tax. The median wage in Australia is about $48000 and taxes probably account for about $15000 of that. To make the tax more or less revenue neutral would require only a tweaking of the tax system, say by reducing the GST rate by a percent or two. This would entail almost no change to the governments revenue, and almost no change to the net tax burden any individuals would have to pay. So your electricity bill would go up, but your tax bill would go down. What is so devastating about this proposal?
Contrast that with Abbot's unfunded, big government, winner-picking scheme, and Julia Gillard's non-solution in the form of a citizen's assembly. Who is being more responsible in fixing the biggest economic externality the world has ever seen?
Looking beyond the environment, we see waste on grand scale from both major parties. Both of them are gorging themselves on middle class welfare largesse, churning tax until it turns to butter milk, anything to appeal to the economically illiterate median voter. "So what if it's your money!", they cry; "Help yourselves!" It seems the solution to every problem in this country is; dump public money into the private sector as a free gift, and hope the problem solves itself. This isn't the free market, it's a free for all, heads I win, tails the tax payers lose. For examples of this take the following:
30% private health rebate. Disastrously expensive, reverse means tested, and only half of it gets to private hospitals at all. The rest is swallowed up by insurance company profits and administration. The Greens would get rid of it.
Petrol subsidies to mining companies. Need I say more? I don't want to insult my reader's intelligence by pointing out what's wrong with this. The Greens would get rid of it.
First home buyers grant. Disastrously expensive, reverse means tested, and incredibly inefficient. It's principle effect is to push up all house prices. The Greens would at least means test it. This is not enough but at least it's a start.
The Greens support public housing over faux market housing fixes, a very fast train from Melbourne to Sydney over continued subsidies to the South Australian car industry, the list goes on.
There are plenty of things I disagree with the Greens about. As a minor party they may not have acquired the technical expertise yet for government, but that can be learned. In not appealing to the median voter they bring some sort of rationality and fiscal responsibility to the table. Their best economic strength lies in rejecting Howard era "Big Government conservatism", the worst of both worlds; where politicians spend your hard earned money on anything and everything, the more the merrier, so long as it doesn't involve improving the government's bottom line, building infrastructure or transfers to the poor.
This year, I'm voting Greens, and not I'm doing it because I want to send a message to Julia, I want to see Bob Brown in the lodge.