Aug 12, 2004

Adjournment: Elections: Minor Parties

ADJOURNMENT: Elections: Minor Parties

12 August 2004

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11.47 a.m.) —This week we have seen the Liberal Party candidate for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull, tell a public meeting that history would judge the war on Iraq as an error. Of course he was right. We need to look back at how this came about. In the coming month or so, we will be facing a federal election, but in November there will also be an election in the largest and most powerful nation on earth—the United States of America. Last time that election took place, George Bush was elected as the President of the United States, with a minority of votes counted but also with a significant dispute over the votes in Florida.

One of the issues that was relevant for that result was that it was not just a contest between George Bush of the Republican Party and Al Gore of the Democrats; there was a third candidate—the Green Party leader, Ralph Nader, ran in the election. In Florida, Ralph Nader polled more than 95,000, or more than two per cent, of the votes. Across the nation, he polled between two and three per cent. Exit polls in Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington state and Wisconsin suggest that a considerable majority of those people who voted for Ralph Nader would have preferred Al Gore to be the President of the United States if it were a two-horse race. It is quite clear that, had Ralph Nader not run in the ballot, Al Gore would have been elected President of the United States in 2000.

If Al Gore had been elected President of the United States in 2000, it is clear that he would have had a very different attitude towards the United Nations processes and towards international relations in the wake of 9-11, the tragedy that struck the United States. It is quite clear that we would have had a very different international environment from the one that we face today. Ralph Nader said:

I did not run for President to help elect one or the other of the two major candidates. You can’t spoil a system spoiled to the core.

I do not think democracy is spoiled to the core. I think democracy is the greatest system that we have and we need to acknowledge what people’s role is in that democracy. Ralph Nader and those people who supported him, such as the Australian Greens, and who are supporting him running again in 2004 could make the difference and ensure that George Bush is re-elected to the White House—

Mr Johnson —Hear, hear!

Mr ALBANESE —`Hear, hear!’ says the Liberal member opposite. Exactly—that is my point. The Greens, through their candidature of Ralph Nader, assist the process of a right-wing Republican regime in the United States, just as here in Australia the Greens spend most of their time attacking the Labor Party, attacking progressives who are closest to them in terms of their ideological position and, through that consistent attack, end up undermining the overall strength of progressive politics in this country. [start page 3088]

Mr Johnson —You gave them Cunningham.

Mr ALBANESE —The member opposite says that we gave them Cunningham. No, the Liberal Party went and handed out for the Greens in Cunningham—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Corcoran)—The member for Grayndler will not respond to interjections.

Mr ALBANESE —and ensured, by not running, that a Greens candidate got up, just as the Liberals will be extending preferences to the Greens in my electorate because they would prefer a Greens candidate to be elected rather than a Labor candidate. We need to be very clear about what we are doing when we look at the exercise of democracy and we need to examine what the real impact was of Ralph Nader running in 2000 and what damage he could cause in ensuring that George Bush is re-elected in 2004. (Time expired)