The Greens’ claim that government is in the grip of business as the party moved to “sever” its power sharing arrangement with the Labor government is bizarre.
Greens leader Senator Christine Milne announced yesterday that the minority government deal signed between her predecessor, Bob Brown, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012 was off because Labor was beholden to business and the mining industry.
“The mining industry has become so powerful that the lines between business and politics have become blurred to the detriment of people and our society,” Milne said in her speech to the National Press Club which revealed the split.
But business groups have said the Greens’ move smacks of political posturing.
Peter Anderson, the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the suggestion that the national government or its Parliament is in the grip of business is “fanciful”.
“If Senator Milne scratched beneath the surface she would find deep frustration from businesses large and small with a Parliament that has regularly used it as a taxing target for wealth redistribution and easy pickings for red tape overregulation and labour market overreach,” he says.
The Labor government certainly hasn’t bothered to curry favour with business after dumping the promised reduction in the company tax and continuing to push for tougher workplace regulations on employers.
In the end the Greens’ split with Labor is largely symbolic as Milne has promised the Greens will continue to support the government’s supply bills and vote against no confidence motions in Parliament, ensuring Labor will continue to remain on the government benches at least until the election later this year.
From a business perspective, Milne took on the leadership of the party from Brown on a promise to support “progressive businesses”, an area little has been heard on since.
Whatever the true reasoning behind the split, Milne has not won any favours with business groups by claiming the government is in their thrall.