The leader of the Australian Greens Party, Senator Christine Milne, has said the minority Labor government’s priorities are not in tune with those of the Australian people.
As a result Senator Milne says Labor has walked away from its alliance with her party, which supports the minority government and controls the balance of power in the upper house Senate.
“What has become manifestly clear is that Labor, by its actions, has walked away from its agreement with the Greens, into the arms of the big miners,” she said in a speech to the National Press Club in the Australian capital, Canberra, today.
By choosing the big miners Labor had made it clear it no longer had the “courage or the will” to work with the Australian Greens on a shared agenda for the national interest, she said.
“By choosing the big miners the Labor government is no longer honouring our agreement to work together to promote transparent and accountable government, the public interest or to address climate change.
“Labor has effectively ended its agreement with the Australian Greens.”
However, Senator Milne said she would not allow Labor’s failure to honour the “spirit of the agreement” to advance the interests of the conservative Liberal-National Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
“We will not walk away from the undertaking we gave not only to the prime minister but to the people of Australia,” she said.
“We will see this parliament through to its full term.
“The Australian Greens will not add to the instability that Labor creates every day for itself.”
Senator Milne said the Australian Greens’ signature on the agreement “mean something”.
“We are not going to facilitate Tony Abbott or the coalition in generating instability in the parliament,” she said.
“That is in nobody’s interests.”
Earlier, Senator Milne said Labor’s mining tax was a dud, but one that could be fixed.
AAP reports she reaffirmed the Australian Greens would push for a parliamentary inquiry into Labor’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), which has so far raised only $126 million in its first six months, against a full year estimate of $2 billion.
AAP reports she criticised the government of the Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard for refusing to overhaul the MRRT to increase its revenue.
“That’s why I’ll be moving in the senate this week for the inquiry into the mineral resources rent tax to get to the bottom of exactly how flawed this tax is and what needs to be done to fix it.
“How it was able to be developed into the interests of the three biggest mining companies in the world, and what the impact will be of its failings on the budget, if it is not fixed,” Senator Milne said.
Senator Milne said her party had supported the earlier mining super profits tax proposed by former Treasury boss Ken Henry.
“However, when the mining industry ran their $20 million advertising campaign which effectively bought the parliament it succeeded in having the miners write their own tax,” she said.
Senator Milne said former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown had told Treasurer Wayne Swan there were flaws in this tax and they must be fixed.
“They refused to fix them because they said they’d done a deal with the mining industry and they weren’t at liberty to make any changes,” Senator Milne said.
Senator Milne made it clear that the Labor party under Ms Gillard had ended the alliance.
“We haven’t ended it, they have walked away,” she said.
“There is no point having meetings if the meetings are only there to be told what the Labor party has already decided.”
However, she said the Australian Greens’ door would be open to negotiations.
“My door is open to genuine negotiations but there is no point in trying to pretend that something is working when it is not,” she said.
She said people would be happy that an end to the agreement had been made public.
“But it’s now a full on election campaign from everyone, and it is really the Australian Greens versus the rest in terms of the public interest,” she said.
A spokesman for the leader of the government in the House of Representatives, Anthony Albanese, said none of the crossbenchers were ever guaranteed a vote on any piece of legislation.
“We will continue to do what we have been doing for the last two-and-a-half years and that’s negotiating with the crossbenchers to get our legislation through,” he said.