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Gallop trots in Green with policy envy

SEVERAL years ago I asked a now retired, but then senior, Federal Labor MP what he thought of WA’s increasingly active Greens.

“They’re a bunch of Trotskyites,” he said.

He was quite emphatic that he meant card carriers, not just fellow travellers.

For those who’ve forgotten, Leon Trotsky was a rabid agitator who helped found the Soviet Red Army, worked enthusiastically for bloody world revolution, only to be murdered by a Josef Stalin hired henchman.

But like Stalin, Trotsky’s hands were stained with innocent people’s blood.

Despite this, and his violent death at Stalin’s hands in Mexico 61 years ago, Trotsky still inspires followers, espec-ially among university stu-dents, including in WA, who take his whacky writings seriously.

I recall being rather taken aback by the MPs’ no-holds-barred reply – I most definitely wasn’t speaking to a “commos-under-the-bed” man. What, I thought, tree-lovers’ clandestine Trots or perhaps significantly influenced by Trots? Sure, I was rather stunned.

Today I’d find the answer less surprising, even though I still feel his claim was probably too broad. Most Greens, I’d say, are either gullible peaceniks or mere tree huggers. Nothing more.

But I certainly don’t entirely discount the Labor man’s contention.

After all, during the recent State election campaign a former ministerial colleague of Premier Geoff Gallop, claimed Dr Gallop had “joined the far left at Oxford as a Trotskyite.” Can you believe it? Geoff Gallop, once a Trot.

Clearly, Trots or ex-Trots have a knack of popping up in surprising spots, including, it seems, at the top of WA’s Labor Party. So why not among Greens?

The Greens web platform carries 40 planks of which 12 are environment/anti-nuclear, confirming they’re a local variant of Germany’s formidable Green Party.

At their core is a group of highly dedicated activists who spend nearly all their time thinking, reading, and re-searching green and related issues with a fervent desire to fundamentally refashion WA society.

Twenty-four of the planks deal with social issues - seniors, sexuality, women, prostitution, and so on – plus governance.

But four planks – transport and planning, privatisation, tax reform, and national competition – tell us most about the type of economy Greens want.

WA’s Greens now have five Upper House MPs – they nearly got six – but, crucially, they’ll be lobbying and negotiating with the ministers of ex-Trot Dr Gallop’s Government on other than green issues.

Look at the first of these – transport and planning – whose central element is creation of an all-powerful Planning and Transport Infrastructure Commission (PTIC), by amalgamating the Planning and Transport Departments.

Interestingly, Dr Gallop

has created a Planning and Infrastructure Ministry.

Was this coincidence or did he lift it from the Greens? If the latter, why? Was it because he’s a Greens ideological admirer?

If that’s so, it’s possible, indeed probable, other elements of this all-embracing planning and transport plank may be slowly adopted.

The policy reads: “The Greens will promote legislation along with community participation to establish Westrail, TransPerth and Main Roads as construction, maintenance and operations agencies under the PTIC.”

This means these agencies would re-emerge as major employers of construction works and maintenance teams, taking WA back to the 1930s when relatively huge, cumbersome and costly day labour gangs were employed across the State.

Moreover, all this aligns with Labor’s and Greens’ deep dislike of privatising public sector areas, meaning we could expect to see private contractors and subcontractors currently undertaking infrastructure works being steadily displaced by government works teams.

The first paragraph of the Greens’ privatisation policy says: “The Greens believe that a strong public sector is essential for a healthy civil society. Some services should be undertaken by public sector agencies.”

Examples given are; “a single or well-coordinated distribution system”, which presumably covers “Westrail, TransPerth, and Main Roads” under a powerful PTIC. Water supply and electricity are mentioned.

Dr Gallop says he won’t countenance further privatising, meaning he’d never sell-off Western Power even though it’s had a $5 billion tag placed on it, money he could well do with over his current term, in light of his $756 million worth of election promises: so more spending.

That comes on top of the Treasury’s revelation before the election – not after, as Treasurer Eric Ripper wants us to believe – that the budget was headed for a $1.2 billion deficit in 2000-2001: so a near $2 billion shortfall before the Government hit first base.

If Labor starts slowly adding maintenance work gangs to major WA infra-structure agencies – as the Greens so dearly desire - it wouldn’t be long before this $2 billion skyrockets, mean-ing even bigger annual tax and charges hikes than we’re like to get.

The current pre-budget weeks mean facing two choices – wanting to feel ideologically pure, as Dr Gallop undoubtedly did up there in Oxford’s ivory towers, or using down-to-earth common sense, and telling the Greens to do likewise.

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