A (disassembled and underwhelming) conversation on voting Greens or Labor (w/ Adam Bandt)

It has come to my attention that even in a country with preferential voting, ideology and voting preferences don’t always align as one (me) might assume.


As is tradition, the lead up to an election can often spark conversations that end in discovering (in my case disappointing) things about the people you care about. Namely, them thinking (and voting) differently to what you may have guessed. If you don’t talk about politics with your friends (family are a different story) and enjoy living in the ignorance of their political views, well, you live a terrifying and chaotic life I will likely never understand. I’m confident that when it comes to the things that really matter, the people I surround myself with and I are, politically, on the same page. However, it has come to my attention that even in a country with preferential voting, ideology and voting preferences don’t always align as one (me) might assume.

Point being: shock horror! Some people I know are voting Labor. For all you other lefties, and for your friends who might not be quite as radical as you, but are too scared to voice that, I bring you two justifications from outwardly left-wing, progressive, and climate-concerned UniMelb students as to why they are planning to put Labor before the Greens on their ballot tomorrow.

Now, I know at UniMelb we can often find ourselves in a bit of an echo chamber. But, wherever you sit on the infamous political compass, I think it’s safe to say everybody our age is concerned about climate change. With that said, I know for myself personally it was Labor’s frankly, abysmal, climate policy which put the nail in the coffin on the possibility that I would ever consider putting them as my top pick in this election.

So, if you’re in the same boat as me and wondering how these Labor voting lefties can justify their decision, you’ve found the right article. Maybe they’ll even raise a point you’ve never considered, and you’ll change your mind. But, even if you’re entirely comfortable and confident is what you intend to write on your ballot tomorrow, at least this can be an exercise in looking critically and defending your own political beliefs (something we should all take the time to do on occasion).

In collecting and writing up these statements I was fortunate enough to be put in contact with Adam Bandt for an interview (or his team, the whole thing was via email so it’s hard to say exactly), which got me thinking, who better to dispel my worries than an expert and active participant in the field?

Unfortunately, his responses were not quite as nuanced or engaged with the material I supplied as I would have liked. But given that it is the week of the election, I’ll try not to hold it against him. However, because of this, it became pretty implausible for me to create any sort of direct dialogue between the student statements and Adam’s responses.

Thus, I shall leave it up to you. I’ll present the two sides and let you come to your own conclusion (lazy or brilliant and impartial?).

Student 1

Last election the Labor Party ran on a progressive climate policy platform, losing their more centrist supporters, and as a result, the election. I believe this is why they’re being more conservative in their publicised plans for climate action in this election, not because they don’t realise the seriousness of the climate crisis. Labor’s, for lack of a better word, ‘relaxed’ climate policy and proposed solutions are purely tactical, in order to secure government in this election. All the individual Labor members in my area and its surrounding electorates are concerned about the climate. I’m confident that if elected in this election Labor will go beyond the climate action and policies that they have put forward in the current election campaigning.

Though my views and beliefs align with those of the Greens. I believe that
a strong majority Labor government will be more secure and in turn, get more done. Subsequently allowing them to hold government for longer and have a more long-term and significant impact on Australian politics and our society more generally. By putting the Greens first, I would risk unseating a Labor member.

More Greens seats would also mean a greater chance of Labor having to form Coalition with the Greens and this possibility scares me. Australia sees the Greens as a far-left faction, and this means that many Australia don’t want them as a part of the Coalition government. I’m concerned this would be used against the Labor party, as it has been in the past, and decrease support.

I’m voting Labor to keep out the Liberals, as this is more important to me that voting purely in alignment with my own beliefs. The Greens are able to run on a more progressive, ideologically pure platform because there is no chance of them forming a majority government in this election. I want a government that works to make things better for the largest amount of people. I believe that the Labor party forming government will mean this and that is why I intend to use my vote to do my part in making this happen.



Student 2
We’ve just had 9 years of complete inaction on climate change, which means it’s really important we now have a sustained period of concerted policy making addressing the issue. Labor’s climate change policy has nationwide industry backing. The CFMEU, National Farmer’s Federation, and Business Council of Australia have all endorsed it. This effectively neutralises the issue politically and doesn’t allow the LNP to run a Climate Change scare campaign like they did in 2013 and 2019.

This means we have a really good shot at installing a long-term government that takes the issue seriously. I think the greater our 2030 emissions reduction target is, the better. I just worry that Labor’s adoption of the Greens’ policies would reignite Abbott era climate rhetoric and send the ALP back into opposition in 2025, which is something Australia really can’t afford.

As a union member, Labor represents the only party with a track record of involving worker’s representatives in their policy making process. Their suite of policies protecting gig-economy workers, plans for a Federal ICAC, and promise for a referendum on First Nation’s recognition in our constitution also really appeal to me.


Response to these statements: Adam Bandt
Voting 1 Greens this election is the best way to kick the Liberals out and get climate action. The Greens are preferencing the Labor party and won’t support the Liberals in a minority Parliament, so you can safely vote Greens to kick Scott Morrison out.

Labor, like the Liberals, backs 114 new coal and gas mines. Whatever a local Labor MP says in their community, they go to Canberra and vote for more coal and gas. Coal and gas are the leading causes of the climate crisis, but Labor wants more. And scientists have said that Liberal and Labor’s weak climate targets would both see the Great Barrier Reef destroyed.

Scott Morrison and his government of climate denialists need to go, but Labor needs to be pushed to do better. In balance of power, the Greens will kick the Liberals out and push Labor to stop opening new coal and gas mines. When Greens were in balance of power last time and worked with Labor to take real climate action, it was the only time Australia’s pollution meaningfully reduced.

By voting 1 Greens and preferencing Labor, you’re fighting for action on climate as well as dental and mental health into Medicare for kids, wiping student debt, building affordable housing, free childcare, raising the rate of Centrelink payments to $88 a day and action on First Nations justice.

And the best thing is, with preferential voting, there’s no way to split the vote. If you vote 1 Greens, 2 Labor, you’ll either elect a Green MP who will work with Labor to take urgent action on climate, or your vote will be counted for your Labor MP. Voting 1 Greens also sends a message to Labor that you’re ready to support stronger action on climate and inequality.



Well, do with that what you will. Happy voting!


This piece was submitted to Farrago as an opinion piece.

Image from 2GB.

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