This week Greens head honcho Adam Bandt spent time in Mullumbimby to see for himself the crushing result of the floods. Bandt had visited Ballina on Monday with Greens candidate for Richmond Mandy Nolan to announce that with the balance of power after the next election, they will push for an urgently accelerated build of 15,000 new flood-resilient and safely situated homes, available to everyone affected by the housing crisis and the floods in Northern NSW.
‘The Greens have prioritised the seat of Richmond this election,’ said Mr Bandt. ‘The polls and history predict a power-sharing Parliament is likely.’
This would put Mandy Nolan in a very powerful position – or would it?
Bombshell, author and comic
Can Mandy Nolan, who until recently, was known more for being an Amazonian bombshell, author and comic rather than a parliamentarian, be seen as more than her latest joke?
Bandt says yes. ‘She’s a fighter and a warrior and she’s authentic. She will take the fight to Canberra in a way that the people in Richmond just haven’t had for a very long time. And, she has the ability to make people listen to what she’s saying – she understands the local issues like housing and climate as well as anyone else does, and she’s got this area in her blood and the ability to go and fight for it.’
Bandt says Nolan will be a strong voice in Canberra. ‘The most important thing you’ve got as a member of Parliament is your vote in Canberra. That’s the one thing you’ve got that no one else has. And people in Richmond, deserve someone who doesn’t just share their values, but will also vote for them when they go to Canberra. Richmond deserves better than Scott Morrison or a Labor backbencher who votes for more coal and gas.
‘It’s one thing to say in the community that you want to tackle the climate crisis – I’ve seen every time, Labor MPs go to Canberra and vote for more coal and gas. They say they want to tackle housing affordability, and then they go to Canberra and side with the Liberals to vote to make housing more expensive, with unfair and unaffordable tax breaks for people who’ve already got 10 houses to go and buy their eleventh.
‘Now it’s time that these regions had someone who is going to go and fight and vote in Canberra to keep coal and gas in the ground and make housing more affordable.’
One of the most powerful MPs
Bandt says Mandy Nolan is set to be one of the most powerful MPs in Parliament. ‘Not only is she a strong fighter, but she’s not under the thumb of the factions or the coal and gas corporations, so she’ll be able to vote independently. I think we are heading towards an election where we’re going to kick Scott Morrison out – and we absolutely need to do that – but with Mandy, you get two for the price of one.
‘You get not just kicking the Liberals out, but someone who will then keep the next lot on track. I think we are heading for a minority Parliament again like in 2010. Scott Morrison is hanging on to majority government by its fingernails and is dependent on Bob Katter – you know anything could happen. He is set to be kicked out and that can’t come soon enough.
‘But, the other lot are unlikely to form the majority in their own right, and that’s certainly going to be the case in the Senate. So Mandy will be sitting there as part of a party, sharing the balance of power, and so when the next government says, “We want to pass this law”, she can say, “Yeah, well I’ve got a housing crisis I want to talk to you about” or “I want to keep coal and gas in the ground”, so she’s the most powerful choice for the area.’
When two parties become three
On the subject of pushing the ‘two-party-system’ to include a third voice, Bandt says there’s a reason that people across the country are deserting the old parties in droves.
‘Labor keeps voting with the Liberals for more coal and gas and my biggest problem with the Labor party is they keep siding with the Liberals to open up more. They say one thing in the community and then go to Canberra and vote for more coal and gas and that means voting for more floods. Coal and gas and the climate crisis fuel these floods.
‘At the moment, there are 114 proposed new coal and gas mines around the country and Liberal and Labor both want to open them up. We can’t tackle the climate crisis and put the fire out while pouring petrol on it.
‘How Labor and Liberal can look the community in the eye that has just suffered through floods and say “we’re about to go and open up more coal and gas is beyond me”.
‘People understand that the climate crisis is caused by coal and gas and people look at Labor and Liberal taking donations from the coal and gas corporations and opening up more mines and say “how could you possibly do it?”
Third party vote is growing
‘That’s why the third party vote is growing. You’re going see across the country, more new voices in parliament this election. There are going to be more and more people saying “I want someone who is independent and strong and going to fight for me locally”.
Bandt says that Labor and Liberals think they’ve got a monopoly on power. ‘They don’t. It’s up to people, the public, who they vote for, and increasingly, people are saying they want to be represented by a third voice. And yes, there’s a challenge for us because we don’t take donations from the big corporations and that can make it harder for the community voice to break through, but we’ve got people power.
‘It’s pretty good campaigning with Mandy here – you do a press conference and it doesn’t go for five minutes before someone walks past and says, “Good on you Mandy. Love what you’re doing.” She’s known around here and people know her because she’s genuine and you know what she stands for.
‘I think people want that in parliament and that’s how we break this two-party coal and gas system – by putting more third voices like Mandy into parliament, and especially if she’s sitting there in the balance of power, she’ll be one of the most powerful MPs in the country.’
A growing majority
Mr Bandt seems to know what the people want – in the seat of Melbourne he has increased his majority election after election. His Melbourne career began with a loss in 2007 with 22.8 per cent of the primary vote. He won the seat in 2010 with 36.2 per cent of the primary vote. He then won again in 2010 and again his majority increased to 42.6 per cent. In 2016 he increased his vote to 43.75 and in 2019 his primary vote was 49.3 per cent.
Bandt says that once people get a Greens MP they like it because they realize they’ve got someone who’s going put them and the community first. ‘Not the factions, not the corporate donors – they’re going to put the community first. And history suggests once people get a Greens MP the vote keeps going up.
‘You know, we’re about 50 days away from talking about former Prime Minister Scott Morrison. I think there’s a movement across the country in which the Greens are a part of, to change the government because we desperately need to do it. I think Scott Morrison’s only got himself to blame for that, he’s the one who has made terrible decisions, he’s fast-tracked the climate crisis, he has refused to come and talk to locals about the floods that he helped cause.
‘I’m sure he’s doing everything he can to hang on to power by his fingernails, but I think people are seeing through him.’
Floods on the national stage
Mr Bandt said as far as the current floods are concerned, it’s good to bring attention to the national stage about what’s happening. ‘We’ve got to make sure that even though the waters are receding, the work is only beginning for people and the mental trauma will be ongoing for some time to come – there’s a real risk that Scott Morrison is trying to get past the election and then hope that everyone forgets about it.
‘We’ve got to make sure people don’t forget about it, and that Scott Morrison doesn’t forget about it.’