Hall Greenland, Greens candidate in the inner-western seat of Grayndler, says the seat is the most progressive and enlightened in the country. He wants to take that progressive attitude to Canberra by joining Melbourne’s Adam Bandt in the 150-strong House of Representatives. To do so, he will have to perform the mammoth task of unseating Anthony Albanese, the Labor member since 1996 and, since late June, the Deputy Prime Minister.
Doorknocking in Marrickville on a sunny Saturday morning, Mr Greenland’s first pitch to voters is on aircraft noise. Forget the second airport – he wants to move Sydney’s airport to the outskirts of the city and do away with Kingsford-Smith altogether. He doesn’t have much confidence in the government’s emissions trading scheme and wants a greater focus on renewable energy. He believes Australia should accept more refugees and fewer skilled migrants.
Mr Greenland said the minority government elected in 2010 was the best possible outcome, and that in the event of another hung parliament, he would support Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party to form government.
The Inner West Independent asked a few key questions of the would-be giant-slayer.
Why are you contesting the election?
I’m contesting this election because I don’t think the majority of voters in Grayndler are represented by the current member. I don’t think the majority of voters in Grayndler agree with cutting single parents’ pensions, I don’t think they agree to slashing university funding, I don’t think they agree on abandoning somebody like Julian Assange, I don’t think they agree with the PNG solution.
Grayndler is in my view the most progressive, engaged, informed, enlightened electorate in the country, and yet it’s represented by somebody who’s in a government that is lurching to the right on a whole range of issues.
How do we improve housing?
This is one of the things Gough Whitlam had dead right. The government which has got the financial clout to solve the problems of cities in Australia is the federal government. It’s only the federal government that can intervene in the market and in our cities to make sure that market failures are corrected. In Gough’s day it was actually bringing running water and sewerage to the outskirts of Sydney. Now it’s things like shifting the airport, improving public transport and establishing an Australian housing authority that builds public housing – not just welfare housing – for all sectors of Australia. Neoliberalism has captured both major political parties.
What is your policy on aircraft noise?
They’ve left Badgery’s [Creek] too late. Now it’s encroached upon by new suburbs out in the Western suburbs. What that means is that even if you established Badgery’s, you’re not going to establish it as a 24-hour, seven days a week airport. That’s what we need in Sydney, really. We need an airport that is an international airport in global terms, which means it operates 24 hours a day. It’s a huge problem, and it’s going to take $15-16 billion to build a replacement airport.
Where do you stand on climate change?
We have to move to 100 per cent renewables as quickly as possible. Already in the world, 20 per cent of electricity is generated by renewables. For us to be just getting up to the global average by 2002 seems to me pathetic. Secondly I think we’ve got to stop the expansion of coal and coal exports. We’re talking about reducing our domestic emissions by five per cent, and yet we’re exporting two or three hundred per cent of our domestic emissions via coal. We’ve got to leave it in the ground. The coal industry has to be generally phased out.
What should be done about refugees?
Net migration in Australia is now about 200,000 people a year. I don’t think Australians are generally aware of that figure. I think often they confuse that with refugees and asylum seekers. Compared to that, the 15-20,000 that we get as refugees is a drop in the ocean. If were taking this many people we should be sheltering those who are persecuted and we shouldn’t be robbing developing countries of their most skilled and capable people.