Greens offer voters alternative: Brown

The Australian Greens say they’re are an alternative to the major parties which their leader its leader Bob Brown says are ignoring progressive policies and a clear vision for Australia’s future.

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Senator Brown’s adopted Julia Gillard’s mantra saying moving forward will mean a carbon tax on polluters and bringing home safely Australia’s troops from Afghanistan.

He says it will mean a universal dental care scheme humane treatment of asylum seekers in Australia and protecting our forests and wildlife.

Election also about Senate

Senator Brown says the election is also about the Senate in which a strong Greens crossbench will deliver better outcomes for Australians including more support for climate change action and the creation of marine national parks.

The Greens will focus on seizing the balance of power in the Senate at this election, but they could also land a second MP in the lower house for the first time.

The Greens’ polling has been in record territory this year, peaking in the mid-teens when dissatisfaction with Kevin Rudd’s Labor government was at its apex.

The party’s vote typically falls once the election campaign proper starts, as undecided voters drift back to major parties.

Winnable seats

Commentators say there are only three lower house seats the Greens could feasibly win from Labor – Grayndler and Sydney in NSW, and Melbourne in Victoria.

Most promising is Melbourne, held by outgoing Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.

Mr Tanner announced his retirement on the same day Mr Rudd was dumped from the leadership, but he said he had told Mr Rudd weeks before of his intention to quit politics and spend more time with his family.

At the 2007 election, the Greens achieved a first when Adam Bandt, its candidate for the inner-city seat, finished second to Mr Tanner in the two-candidate preferred count after preferences.

Mr Bandt will run again at this election, and with the departure of its high-profile MP, Labor could very well lose its century-old grip on Melbourne.

The 38-year-old industrial relations barrister, running under the campaign slogan “Make history in Melbourne”, not only has the support of the area’s urbane Gens X and Y, but unions and a broad band of disaffected Labor voters.

Leadership speculations

There had been speculation that this election campaign may be the last for Greens Leader Bob Brown, who will be almost 69 when his Senate term ends in 2013.

But if the party gets its second-ever Lower House MP (the first was Michael Organ, MP for Cunningham, near Wollongong, from 2002 to 2004), as well as the balance of power, he may be tempted to stay a While longer.

Elected to the Senate for Tasmania in 1996, Senator Brown has been the parliament’s most determined voice on the environment and human rights.

He has seen the Greens move from a protest party to a mainstream third party, as the environment became a greater part of Australia’s consciousness.

With the coalition opposed to an emissions trading scheme and Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme likely to stay on the shelf until 2013, the Greens are the stand-out party on climate change.

Gillard is no ‘Kevin 07’

While Labor’s “Kevin 07” campaign captured the imagination of young voters, it’s uncertain whether Prime Minister Julia Gillard will adopt a similar flashy, presidential style.

Gillard opened an account on the social networking site Twitter only the week after taking the leadership, which suggests the Greens’ chances of getting the young vote are better still.

The 2010 election could be watershed for the Greens.