Newly-elected Greens leader Adam Bandt has launched a push for a Green New Deal, aiming to give a little zest to the party’s flagging image after it drifted to the right under former leader Richard Di Natale.
Bandt sees the Green New Deal as a way to tackle climate change together with the “jobs and inequality crises” we face. Pointing to the opportunities in manufacturing and installing renewable energy, he called for “proper, believable transition plans” for workers in coal communities.
This is the kind of approach needed to both build a movement for climate action and draw in the organised working class support the movement needs. But, following Di Natale, Bandt has made no call to build the social movement that will be needed to win this. His call for a Green New Deal is entirely focussed on winning more seats in parliament as the way to make change.
Bandt has also continued The Greens’ mistaken focus on coal exports as more important than transforming Australia’s domestic energy system, a process that would create tens of thousands of jobs that could provide alternatives for coal dependent communities.
The focus on export coal plays into Scott Morrison’s attack on climate action as a threat to workers’ jobs. Instead of fighting for new jobs, the focus of the climate movement and The Greens in the lead up to the election was stopping the Adani mine. The led to the disastrous Stop Adani convoy, led by former Greens leader Bob Brown, which charged into coal mining areas in Queensland and helped deliver seats to the Coalition.
The focus on coal mining also meant The Greens had remarkably little impact during the months-long bushfire crisis. To win over working class people, The Greens have to put class issues like jobs and services at the front of their calls for action on climate change.
As leader, Di Natale became known for his embrace of an exclusive focus on parliament, saying he was simply about getting more Greens elected and delivering “outcomes” in parliament. He even announced he was would “never say never” to a Liberal-Greens coalition.
Di Natale cited the carbon price negotiations with the Gillard Labor government as The Greens’ biggest achievement during his time in parliament. Adam Bandt has named this as a model too, saying we need a “carbon price plus”. But the carbon tax was a political disaster because it forced the cost of action onto workers.
Adam Bandt’s talk of a Green New Deal is welcome. But he shares the same basic approach as Richard Di Natale. Unless his call is centred on building a movement for change on the streets and in the workplaces he is on the road to the same electoral dead-end.