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How to Vote Progressive in Australia: Labor or Green?

Chapter 1

The Effect of the Institutional Settings on the ALP–Greens Relationship

Nicholas Barry, Stewart Jackson and Narelle Miragliotta

The long-term decline in the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) primary vote and the growing electoral success of the Australian Greens (Greens) has led to speculation about the future relationship between the two parties. Comments by the federal leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, have raised the prospect of Greens serving as ministers in a future ALP-Greens coalition government,1 with one commentator, Brad Orgill,2 going so far as to suggest that the amalgamation of the two parties is a viable option. Others have emphasised that the parties are rivals and some within the ALP have argued that the party should adopt a more aggressive electoral strategy towards the Greens.3

These discussions, however, often fail to consider the ways in which the institutional context shapes the relationship between the two parties. This chapter focuses on this issue, exploring how Australia’s political institutions are likely to affect the ALP-Greens relationship over the medium to longer term. We argue that these institutions militate against close and sustained cooperation between the two parties, particularly a coalition arrangement. The current institutional framework favours, at best, weak and opportunistic forms of cooperation between the parties.

The Parties Compared

It is easy to assume that the similarities between the ALP and the Greens (for example, their roots in a radical democratic heritage) are greater than their differences. However, this ignores the fact that the ALP and the Greens formed in very different historical contexts in response to very different political circumstances. The ALP is a creature of the trade union movement, emerging out of the materialist struggles to secure jobs, decent wages, education, and health care for the working class and the poor. The Greens, however, have their roots in the late twentieth century new social movements championing post-materialist concerns concentrated around social justice, the environment, peace and disarmament and participatory democracy. Although the ALP has broadened its platform to incorporate these issues since the 1970s, this continues to sit alongside more traditional materialist concerns.4 Within the ALP, there remains strong resistance towards some aspects of the post-materialist agenda among influential party figures. In fact, part of the motivation for the formation of the Greens was the belief that a number of post-materialist issues were not being adequately addressed by the ALP.5

There are also differences in the parties’ respective bases of support. The Greens have their organisational roots in the radical participatory democratic culture of the late twentieth century and its constituents are generally younger than major party identifiers, with the highest proportion aged 18–24 and the lowest in the 65+ bracket. They are more likely to hold a tertiary qualification, to be employed in one of the professions, and they are predominately urban dwelling.6 The ALP has also attracted significant support from tertiary-educated urban professionals and those involved in the new social movements. Nonetheless, its traditional support base is among working-class voters, and although this has weakened in recent decades, one of the major differences between the parties is that the ALP continues to be heavily dependent on support from manual workers.7

The different political, social and economic forces which propelled their formation, as well as their different bases of voter support, suggest that a merger would be an unlikely scenario and also extremely difficult to achieve. It has never been seriously entertained by elites or the membership of either party. This is because amalgamation would require the two parties to collapse their respective structures to create a new party organisation. While there are some areas of overlap in the ideology and voter base of the two parties, there are also major areas of differences across values, policy and organisational formats that would prove difficult to reconcile.

Nor does either party have a compelling reason to contemplate amalgamation. While it has been suggested that amalgamation might be a way of potentially re-energising the ALP’s moribund branch structure,8 the ALP has a continuous organisational history that spans over 125 years. The ALP is also the only party capable of consistently forming government in its own right. The Greens too have emerged as a stable and resilient parliamentary party capable of influencing legislation and government formation. It consistently wins seats in jurisdictions that use proportional electoral systems to elect members, and it has begun to achieve significant victories in inner metropolitan state and federal lower house electorates.9 The party’s electoral growth has been modest, but steady, and there are indications that it has acquired a small but committed partisan base of support.10 While the Greens is a younger party than the ALP, it has now existed as a genuinely national party organisation for more than twenty years.

Some believe amalgamation would strengthen the position of the left in Australia, but it might in fact produce the opposite effect. The ALP is able to reach a much broader spectrum of voters than the Greens, which has a narrower electoral base primarily consisting of inner metropolitan tertiary-educated professionals. Moreover, the parties’ core constituencies will prove difficult to unite. The Greens’ base is affluent, progressive and holds values and supports policies that many in the ALP’s traditional working class and trade union base at best do not prioritise, and at worst, reject. The risk in amalgamation is that the new party would struggle to accommodate both constituencies, resulting in the new organisation attracting fewer votes than the combined support base of the ALP and Greens presently.

Partial amalgamation between the ALP and the Greens – as might occur if a schism in one party results in a significant proportion of its members leaving to join a second party – is also an unlikely scenario.11 Both parties are certainly riven by internal divisions. In the case of the ALP, these divisions are open and formalised in factions, while in the case of the Greens, the divisions are generally less organised and often subterranean.12 However, in either case, the cleavages that presently exist, while occasionally disruptive, are not of the kind likely to produce the kind of ruptures last seen in the ALP in the Split of 1955. While some members have left the Greens over internal differences over the years, these have been in very small number.

There is also little likelihood of party elites defecting to the other party. Recent history suggests politicians have good reason to be wary of crossing from minor parties to major parties and vice versa. The story of Cheryl Kernot and her defection from the Australian Democrats to the ALP is particularly instructive. Kernot left the Democrats while still a high profile party leader. Although she was enticed across to the ALP, she was not welcomed by local ALP branches, and she held the federal seat of Dickson for just one term before losing. Equally, state politicians who have left the ALP and joined the Greens (Ronan Lee in Queensland and Kris Hanna in South Australia) have faced suspicion and distrust within the party. While Lee lost his subsequent reelection bid, Hanna quit the Greens prior to the 2006 South Australian state election to successfully contest his seat as an Independent, sensing perhaps correctly that ALP voters were more likely to accept him as an Independent than as a Greens candidate.

For these reasons, it is highly likely that the two parties will continue to operate as separate organisations for the foreseeable future. Whether this relationship is cooperative or antagonistic is, however, likely to be strongly shaped by the institutional framework within which they operate. We explore this in the next section.

Navigating the National Institutional Context

The conventional wisdom was that the Australian system is primarily majoritarian in character with a two-party, or on some accounts, a two-and-a-half party system. The government–opposition dynamic is dominant and relations between the major parties are antagonistic. One of the major factors contributing to this is the use of the single-member preferential system for House of Representatives elections.13

This makes it difficult for minor parties – other than the Nationals – to gain representation as they generally lack a sufficient concentration of support in any one geographical area to win a seat. This produces highly disproportionate vote-to-seat share outcomes, with major parties securing more seats in parliament than their vote share warrants, while minor parties gain much fewer seats. By way of example, the Liberal– National Coalition (Coalition) received 45.5 per cent of the first preference vote and 60 per cent of the seats in the House at the 2013 federal election.14 In contrast, the Greens secured 8.7 per cent of the vote but only won the seat of Melbourne. The ALP and the Coalition between them won a total of 145 out of 150 seats.

A further consequence of vote-to-seat disproportionality is that the ALP or the Coalition is almost always able to form government in its own right. The second Gillard–Rudd Government (2010–13) was a notable exception, becoming the first minority government in the postwar period. The combination of stable parliamentary majorities for the governing party/parties alongside Australia’s relatively high levels of party discipline, effectively gives the party leadership control of the House of Representatives. It is rare for the opposition or the small number of minor parties managing to win seats to have much legislative impact in the House because the government does not normally need their support to pass legislation. This fosters a bipolar dynamic to party politics in Australia, which is primarily oriented around an antagonistic contest between the ALP and the Liberal–National Coalition for office.

However, these majoritarian features of the Australian system sit alongside other more consensual elements that can encourage limited forms of cooperation between the parties.15 Senate elections are conducted under proportional representation using the single transferable vote. When teamed with multi-member statewide electoral districts, more proportionate outcomes are produced, giving minor parties a greater opportunity to gain parliamentary representation. At the 2013 Senate election, the Liberal–National Coalition received a total of 37.7 per cent of the first preference vote and won 42.5 per cent of the seats, while the Greens received 8.7 per cent of the first preference vote and won 10 per cent of the seats.16 Overall, 11 of the available 40 seats were won by parties other than the Coalition or the ALP. Another important consequence of the Senate electoral system is that it is rare for the governing party to have a majority of seats. The John Howard Coalition Government had a majority in the Senate from July 2005 until it lost office in October 2007, but that was the first time since 1981 this had occurred. When this is combined with the strongly bicameral nature of the Parliament – legislation cannot pass without going through the Senate – this adds an important element of consensus democracy into the Australian system.17 For the government to get its legislation through the Parliament, it must negotiate with the Opposition or the minor parties who hold the balance of power in the Senate. Parties have an incentive to cooperate and negotiate with each with other, at least some of the time. This is not to deny that there are many occasions when major bills are blocked by minor parties and/or the Opposition in the Senate, but the vast bulk of government-initiated legislation is passed.18

The use of forms of preferential voting in both houses of parliament is another feature of the Australian political system conducive to cooperation between the parties. For House of Representatives elections, there is an incentive for major parties to do deals with minor parties to attract preferences in key seats. The same thing occurs in the Senate, although there is also an incentive for minor parties to do deals with each other in the hope of obtaining enough of the surplus vote to meet the quota and get elected. A similar blend of majoritarian and consensual features exists at state and territory level in Australia. Four jurisdictions – Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria and the Northern Territory – have single-member electoral districts in the lower house of parliament and use compulsory full preferential voting, which requires voters to number all squares on the ballot paper in descending order of preference. In two other states – New South Wales and Queensland – the system is optional preferential voting, where voters may elect to number past one candidate, or stop before numbering all candidates. These electoral systems make it difficult for minor parties to get elected, and politics tends to have a highly majoritarian character in these jurisdictions. In New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, this is partly off-set by the use of proportional representation in the upper house, which facilitates greater minor party representation, and encourages a more consensual dynamic between the parties. The two exceptional jurisdictions in Australia are Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which use the Hare-Clark system for lower house elections. This is a form of proportional representation that is much more likely to produce parliaments where the minor parties have the balance-of-power, making various forms of cooperative arrangements, including coalitions, more likely, as discussed below.

In sum, outside of Tasmania and the ACT, the institutional framework of the Australian system is highly majoritarian in certain respects, producing a two-party/two-and-a-half party dynamic that is conducive to highly antagonistic relations between the two major blocs. However, there are also elements of the system associated with consensus democracy – particularly strong bicameralism, the Senate electoral system and preferential voting for elections of the lower house – which encourage more cooperative forms of interaction between the parties. This is why Lijphart has described the Australian system as a form of ‘modified majoritarianism’.19 The next section will look specifically at what this means for the prospects of an ALP-Greens coalition.

The Options Considered

Coalition

As mentioned above, the idea of an ALP–Greens coalition has been floated on occasions. Coalitions are formal written agreements that set down executive power sharing between two or more parties. Such an arrangement enables two or more parties to form government, particularly in circumstances where neither has sufficient support to govern alone. While a coalition arrangement preserves the organisational independence of the parties, it diminishes the autonomy of their parliamentary wings.

Greens internationally have been involved in a number of governing coalitions with parties from both the left and right. The situation of the Greens in the German states of Hamburg and Hesse – where they are in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU) respectively – is an example of a successful coalition arrangement between the Greens and establishment parties. Within Australia, there have also been examples of ALP–Greens coalitions in Tasmania (2010–14) and the ACT (2012–16).

However, ALP–Green coalitions have tended to occur in jurisdictions that use proportional representational systems to elect the lower house. The majoritarian electoral system used for House of Representative elections makes it difficult for minor parties to win enough seats to make coalitions necessary. In addition, minor parties are competing in an environment in which almost three-quarters of voters continue to identify as Liberal, ALP or National, even if the strength of partisanship has declined over time.20 The effect of this is to limit minor party gains to areas where they have some natural advantage, such as the Nationals in rural and regional areas. The only apparent Greens party advantage appears to be in inner urban areas in major cities, although there are still very few electorates that are likely to produce a result where a high Greens primary vote can be translated into a win.

This being the case, the likelihood of the Greens securing a sufficient number of seats in the lower house to be a viable coalition partner for the ALP is low. This has not occurred in those states most likely to have the population in inner urban areas to elect Greens (New South Wales and Victoria), although a number of Greens MPs have been elected successfully to lower house seats. Greens tend to be corralled into upper houses of parliaments, with favourable multi-member electoral systems, and remain unviable as a coalition partners for the ALP.21

The Tasmanian and ACT experience also suggests there are electoral risks for the Greens in entering a formal coalition arrangement with the ALP. In 2014, the Greens in Tasmania found themselves on the wrong side of an electoral backlash against the Giddings ALP Government. At this election, the Greens haemorrhaged a third of their vote and lost two of their five MPs. In the ACT, the Greens reached a formal agreement to support the ALP government after the 2008 election. They held the parliamentary Speakership, but did not formally enter into a coalition arrangement. However, at the 2012 election, they lost a third of their vote, and three of their four MPs. This rather disastrous election was salvaged by their remaining MP, Shane Rattenbury, being in the balance of power and able to negotiate a Cabinet position in the ALP government. Nonetheless, it is clear that being seen as too close to the government can have distinctly a negative electoral impact for the Greens.22

Accords and Agreements

Another option would be for the Greens and ALP to enter into an accord or agreement relating to the formation of government and securing Supply. An accord is similar to a coalition agreement in that it is manifest in a formalised pact between parties. However, it differs from a coalition in an important respect. Accords do not deal with sharing executive office but rather set out the terms for mutual support in exchange for very particular policies or other demands (such as regular consultation with the Prime Minister). This generally affords the signatories freedom to operate as independent legislative actors, while avoiding the spectre of legislative and governmental instability.

The Greens have negotiated parliamentary and electoral agreements with governments, especially in the ACT and Tasmania. The Greens’ support for Tasmania’s Tony Rundle Liberal Government from 1996 to 1998 is a notable example. At the 1996 state election, the incumbent Ray Groom Liberal Government lost its majority in the Legislative Assembly, while the Greens emerged with four seats. Although the ALP and the Greens could have entered into a coalition, the then ALP leader, Michael Field, refused to do so. Instead, the Greens reached an informal arrangement with the Liberals to allow them to govern as a minority government.

Although the Rundle Government lost the 1998 election, bedevilled by high and persistent unemployment, this Government was successful in some regards.23 But the clear downside for the Greens was that, even though they demonstrated responsibility in working with the minority Rundle government, at the end of the term a tacit agreement emerged between the Liberal and ALP parties on electoral reform to reduce the size of the House and attempt to exclude the Greens.

In spite of the risks for minor parties in negotiating formal alliances with major parties, there are benefits in doing so. Minor parties may be able to bargain for particular policies, or at least moderate government policies they oppose. But the general effect is that any policy ‘wins’ will be claimed by the major party, and any ‘losses’ (particularly where there is a negative impact for electors) will be blamed on the actions of the minor party. While it is also possible that a minority government might be necessary to maintain ‘stable government,’ a media compliant or supportive of the government, such as existed at the time of the Rundle government, can be utilised to prosecute the view that the minor party is hindering reform or economic growth. In a state such as Tasmania, with persistent high unemployment, this is a strategy that can easily be invoked by the major party to shift the blame.

From the ALP’s perspective, this suggests that there may be some subtle benefits from the presence of the Greens in parliament. However, the first experiment with an ALP– Greens Agreement in Australia left many in the ALP wondering if it was possible to work with the Greens. This agreement was struck in 1989 between the Fields ALP Government and the Greens. It floundered when the ALP, under pressure from the forestry industry, sought to secure the continuation of the industry. Legislation to this effect was supported by both major parties, and the Greens withdrew support for the Government, forcing an early election, which the Liberal Party won. Many in the ALP at the time thought the Greens could not be trusted again. However, since then the experience has been generally more positive. The ALP Lara Giddings Government that was formed after the 2010 state election was able to govern with the Greens in Cabinet, with the then Greens Leader, Nick McKim, even prepared to deliver unwelcome news on budget cuts to the electorate.

The Greens’ success at the 2010 federal election, and in the subsequent negotiations over the terms of their support for the Gillard–Rudd ALP Government, might point to the potential for future such arrangements with the ALP. However, poor opinion poll results, a concerted campaign against the ALP and Prime Minister Julia Gillard from a conservative press and the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott led to a collapse in confidence in the Gillard Government, with the Green-negotiated carbon price as its most hated element. Just as Tasmanian Premier, Michael Fields discovered with the ALP–Green Agreement in 1982, at some point the divergent ideologies of the major parties and the Greens will eventually dent any lasting agreement. While it may be possible to win and hold government with Green support, this strategy appears to work most successfully when serving as a prop to weak governments nearing the end of their tenure, and not in the form of stability offered by the Nationals to the Liberals.

Competition

Given that the prospects of a long-term ALP–Greens coalition or formal accord are fairly remote at this point in time, and agreements are only likely on a case-by-case basis, this seems to leave both parties in ongoing competition for the constituency of progressive, tertiary-educated professionals. While the Greens are heavily dependent on this constituency, it is also vital to the ALP’s electoral success in a number of inner metropolitan seats. The likelihood of continued electoral warfare between both parties vexes those progressive thinkers who believe that the viability of the left requires some sort of formal coalition or accord between the ALP and the Greens.

However, there are possibilities for informal forms of cooperation between the parties that fall short of full coalition or a formal accord. Given that the Greens are permanent fixtures of the Australian political system, the ALP will need to accommodate and adapt to this situation. The nature of the Greens’ core constituency means that its core base is likely to remain concentrated in inner-city electorates and so will not threaten the ALP heartland areas in the working-class dormitory suburbs such as in western Sydney and Melbourne.24 If an informal electoral agreement could be reached to not compete except in certain agreed circumstances, then the prospects of both parties prospering would be increased. This would mean, for example, that the ALP would not run candidates against a sitting Greens MP such as Adam Bandt, who wins a seat in an inner-city electorate, while the Greens would not run candidates against the ALP in an agreed set of key ALP seats. This would allow the ALP to concentrate their campaign resources on seats at threat from the Coalition, while the Greens could concentrate their resources on shoring up their Senate vote. It would also pave the way for a general preference swapping agreement between party elites where the ALP would agree to preference the Greens over other parties in the House and the Senate, while the Greens would agree to preference the ALP.

These moves could be combined with ad hoc arrangements for securing stable minority government. These ad hoc arrangements could be negotiated after an election that produces a hung parliament, as occurred in 2010. However, they could be the result of a verbal agreement between the two party leaders rather than signed in a formal document, potentially helping avoid the perception of a de facto coalition. This arrangement would guarantee Supply for a minority ALP government, while still allowing both parties to pursue their own policy and legislative goals. While this would appear to keep the ALP beholden to the Greens, the reality of electoral politics is in fact the reverse. It is the major party that has the upper hand in terms of agenda setting and media access. However, there would still be potential benefits for the Greens in allowing them an open line to policy makers through regular consultation with key ministers, and a greater prospect of implementing Green policies.

Although the informal arrangements relating to electoral competition outlined above are not completely infeasible, in the current environment, it is doubtful that either party would agree to them. It is not clear that the ALP would benefit much from the absence of Green competition in seats under threat from the Coalition as these are rarely seats attracting a high Green vote. In fact, it is in seats where the Green vote is higher – such as Sydney, Batman, or Fremantle – that the ALP would benefit most from not having to divert resources to campaign against the Greens, but these are the seats the Greens want to win, so they are unlikely to agree to include them in any agreement that limits competition. The ALP is also unlikely to be prepared to concede long-held inner-city electorates such as Melbourne to the Greens when they are lost. An on-going across-the-board preferencing arrangement between the parties also seems unlikely as both the ALP and the Greens would be likely to depart from any such arrangement and deal with other parties when they think it would be electorally expedient. The most likely scenario, then, is a continuation of the status quo.

Conclusion

The institutional setting creates some incentives for the ALP and the Greens to work together but these incentives are not sufficient to generate sustained forms of cooperation at the national level, such as amalgamation, coalition, or even informal agreements to limit electoral competition. The structure of incentives within the institutional setting, and its tendency to produce a zero-sum game in relation to electoral and legislative rewards, generates a very specific understanding among parties about the benefits and the costs of forging close ties. In the case of the Greens, closer ties with the ALP is largely understood in terms of its potential to provide access to, and experience of, power on the long road to supplanting the ALP as the main progressive party. The benefits for the ALP exist only to the extent that it may help them to form government, to win seats in close competition with conservative parties, and securing some of its legislative outcomes in parliament.

The fact that the institutional setting mostly inspires competition between parties ultimately makes it difficult for them to overcome the fundamental differences that exist between them. The ALP is a centre-left party, adept at winning and holding government by appealing to the median voter. The Greens sit further to the left, with no clear cleavage constituency other than inner-city dwellers: the ‘culture-creatives’. Close and formalised cooperation between the parties would require them to shed policy, position and principles. This is likely to be opposed by the voter base and activist core of both parties, and it is strongly discouraged by the institutional rules of the game.

___________________

1    Massola, ‘Richard Di Natale eyes cabinet post.’

2    Brad Orgill, Why Labor Should Savour its Greens: Rebuilding a Fractured Alliance, Scribe, Brunswick, 2013.

3    John Ferguson and Verity Edwards, ‘Party in revolt on PM’s deal with Greens,’ Australian, 19 August 2013, 1.

4    John Warhurst, ‘Transitional hero: Gough Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party,’ Australian Journal of Political Science 31(2) (1996): 243–252.

5    Narelle Miragliotta, ‘From local to national: Explaining the formation of the Australian Green Party,’ Party Politics 18(3) (2012): 409–425, at 417.

6    Narelle Miragliotta, ‘The Australian Greens: Carving out space in a two-party system,’ Environmental Politics 22(5) (2013): 706–727, at 712.

7    The figures were 38 per cent for the ALP and 7 per cent for the Greens in the 2013. See Clive Bean and Ian McAllister, ‘Documenting the inevitable: Voting behaviour at the 2013 Australian Election,’ in Abbott’s Gambit: The 2013 Australian Federal Election, ed. Carol Johnson, John Wanna and Hsu-Ann Lee, ANU Press, Canberra, 2015.

8    Kate Crowley, ‘Against Green minority government? Themes and traditions in Tasmanian politics,’ Tasmanian Historical Studies 14 (2009): 137–153.

9    Since the early 2000s, approximately ten Greens have been elected to single member lower houses electorates.

10  Miragliotta, ‘The Australian Greens.’

11  The closest example of partial amalgamation occurred when the ALP split over the issue of conscription in 1916. The then ALP Prime Minister, William Hughes, along with four ministers and 26 other members of caucus, resigned from the party and eventually joined with Liberals to form the Nationalist party.

12  Although, see Cate Faerhmann, ‘Greens won’t get much further If we repeat poll blunders,’ Sydney Morning Herald, 7 April 2011, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/greens-wont-get-much-further-if-we-repeat-poll-blunders-20110406-1d4e7. html#ixzz3n0R1hd7f; and Andrew Crook, ‘“The new normal”: Rhiannon forces triumph in NSW Greens,’ Crikey, 21 October 2013, http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/10/21/the-new-normal-rhiannon-forces-triumph-in-nsw-greens/?wpmp_switcher=mobile.

13  For more, see Arend Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1999, 143–170.

14  ‘House of Representatives votes and seats won, national summary,’ Australian Politics and Elections Database, University of Western Australia, http://elections.uwa.edu.au/elecdetail.lasso?keyvalue=1872, accessed 19 January 2016.

15  Arend Lijphart, ‘Australian democracy: Modifying majoritarianism,’ Australian Journal of Political Science 34(3) (1999): 313–326.

16  ‘Senate votes and seats won, and seats held, national summary,’ Australian Politics and Elections Database, University of Western Australia, http://elections.uwa.edu.au/elecdetail.lasso?keyvalue=1863, accessed 19 January 2016.

17  See, for example, Lijphart ‘Australian democracy.’

18  Harry Evans, ‘The case for bicameralism,’ in Restraining Elective Dictatorship: The Upper House Solution?, eds Nicholas Aroney, Scott Prasser and John Nethercote, UWA Press, Crawley, 2008; Stanley Bach, ‘Senate amendments and legislative outcomes in Australia, 1996– 2007,’ Australian Journal of Political Science, 43(3) (2008): 395–423.

19  Lijphart, ‘Australian democracy.’

20  Ian McAllister, The Australian Voter: 50 Years of Change, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2011, 38–43.

21  Charnock examined the Greens as a replacement for the Australian Democrats and noted the difficulty the Greens would have in respect of losing their base if they moved to a centrist position occupied by the Democrats. See David Charnock, ‘Can the Australian Greens replace the Australian Democrats as a ‘third party’ in the Senate?,’ Australian Journal of Political Science 44(2) (2009): 245–258.

22  Wolfgang Rüdig, ‘Is government good for Greens? Comparing the electoral effects of government participation in Western and East-Central Europe,’ European Journal of Political Research, 45 (2006): 127–154; Stewart Jackson, The Australian Greens: From Activism to Australia’s Third Party, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2016.

23  For a full discussion of how the Greens operated in relation to the Rundle Liberal government see Kate Crowley, ‘Strained parliamentary relations: Green-supported minority government in Tasmania,’ Australasian Parliamentary Review, 17(2) (2003): 55–71; and Richard A. Herr, ‘Reducing parliament and minority government in Tasmania: Strange bedfellows make politics – badly,’ Australasian Parliamentary Review, 20(2) (2005): 130–143.

24  Notwithstanding the occasional exception, such as the regional electorate of Ballina, where the electoral dynamics have altered due to the arrival of ‘tree changers’ who previously voted in inner-city electorates, and the issue of coal-seam gas mining. See Jackson, The Australian Greens, for a broader discussion of the activist and voter makeup of the Australian Greens.

How to Vote Progressive in Australia: Labor or Green?

   by Dennis Altman and Sean Scalmer