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And Yet Still They Fight

The 2014 Tasmanian elections were a disaster for the Greens and for the ALP. The ALP lost 9.55% of their vote (36.88% to 27.33%), falling from 10 seats to 7, whereas the Greens lost 7.78% of the vote (21.61% to 13.83%), falling from 5 seats to 3. Only in Denison did Labor and the Greens make up the majority of the vote.

For Labor this follows a 12.39% loss in the previous 2010 election under the the anti-Greens leader David Bartlett. In eight years, Labor has dropped from 49.27% of the primary vote to 27.33%.

Under the previous government some 170,000 hectares were added to the World Heritage area. The new premier has promised to end that, as the Prime Minister has declared that too many forests were "locked up". The future of the environment in Tasmania should be clear.

How has the leadership of Labor and the Greens reacted to this? Have they combined forces to express the success of their previous government? Do they have a united plan that provides both jobs and protects their natural environment?

Of course not. Instead they turn on each other. Former Labor Premier Giddings dropped the Greens from cabinet shortly before announcing the election. After the election, Labor's Federal leader declared:

"In Tasmania the Labor government had been in for 16 years. That's a very long time, and there's no doubt that Labor having an agreement [with the Greens] was marked down by Tasmanian voters."

No doubt? There was no doubt that the Labor vote was damaged because they came to the election shameful of their successful alliance.

But Greens leader Nick McKim also said they were damaged by associating with Labor.

"The arrangement to take ministries may well have made a difference at the margins. But history shows, and particularly the federal election last year showed, that no matter how you associate, if the government is unpopular then the Greens will take a reversal in our electoral outcomes as a result of a perceived association, no matter what the [voting] model."

Both Shorten and McKim are wrong, and bluntly so. The Giddings government was a success, as was the agreement between Labor and the Greens.

One can look at the work with the Federal government with the implementation of the NBN, NDIS, and the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. They worked on marriage equality, voluntary euthanasia, and the decriminalisation of abortion.

These were results to be proud of. Yes, Labor and the Greens are different parties and they were campaigning under difficult economic circumstances. There was very much a feeling for a time for change. But by approaching the election at loggerheads with each other rather than working together, both suffered.

That should be a lesson for Labor and Green relations.

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