June 16th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Reflections on the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx

EDITORIAL Significance of report into shooting down of MH17

CANBERRA OBSERVED Lee Rhiannon: too Bolshie or not Bolshie enough?

POLITICS Wading further through the Greens party bilge

ECONOMICS Vatican document nails some of the causes of the GFC

POLITICS Greens promise to keep Australia legally stoned and welfare dependent

ENVIRONMENT Scientist sacked for challenging claims of demise of Great Barrier Reef

REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE Humpty Dumpty has his way with words

CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIETY Tradition, Christianity and the law in contemporary Australia

EDUCATION Ladybird, ladybird: adventures in literacy

OFFICE LAUNCH NCC Sydney: a new chapter in a continuing story

ASIAN AFFAIRS Indonesia takes religious syncretism to the nth degree

WA RALLY FOR LIFE 3300 crosses in Perth poignant reminders of abortions

HUMOUR News snippets

PHILOSOPHY Bendigo initiative

MUSIC Gain is loss: Where is there left to discover?

CINEMA 2001: A Space Odyssey: Unsurpassed 50 years on

BOOK REVIEW The house that could not stand

BOOK REVIEW Australia's first official war historian


EDITORIAL China's pivotal role in Trump-Kim summit

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Lee Rhiannon: too Bolshie or not Bolshie enough?

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, June 16, 2018

At least with Lee Rhiannon, you pretty much knew what you were getting.

The long-time Greens Senator from New South Wales, who has announced she will retire in mid-August after months of bitter infighting in the party, was an old-fashioned, unreconstructed Communist, indeed, perhaps the last of her kind in the Federal Parliament.

Personable and well liked among senators from all sides of politics, Rhiannon has at least been consistent during her long political career that included 11 years in the NSW Legislative Council and being a federal senator since 2011.

But the ever-morphing Greens, with its warring factions, described recently in (the presumably informed) Green Left Weekly as between the “Corbynistas” and the “Mainstream Progressives”, wanted Rhiannon out. The ambitious Dr Mehreen Faruqi, who also hails from the NSW Upper House, will take her place.

Faruqi is a Pakistan-born “environmental engineer”. She was the first Muslim woman to be a member of any Australian Parliament.

She is ardently pro-abortion, having introduced the first parliamentary bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW in 2014; however, her main policy agenda concerns the environment.

Announcing her decision to quit the Senate, Rhiannon described her time in Parliament as “fruitful”, and that she remained “passionate and as committed as ever to our collective struggle for a fair, just, ecologically sustainable and peaceful world”.

Rhiannon often tried to downplay her Communist heritage but, according to The Australian newspaper, she came from one of Australia’s leading “red” families.

She was formerly a member of the Communist Party of Australia and later the Socialist Party of Australia. She left the latter in the early 1980s and joined the Greens in 1990.

The Socialist Party of Australia had remained loyal to Moscow after the Communist Party split in 1968, and Rhiannon frequently visited eastern European communist dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s.

According to a biography of Rhiannon’s mother Freda Brown in 1977, Rhiannon also headed a delegation to Moscow after an invitation was extended from the Soviet government.

In her time as a political activist, Rhiannon also organised a peace camp protest at the Pine Gap defence facility in 1983. She was consistently anti-American and anti-Israel.

In 1985, Rhiannon wrote to her parents gushing about hearing U.S. Communist Party leader Angela Davis speak at a United Nations conference in Nairobi. “Listening to her must be one of the best assets for the international communist movement,” she wrote.

Rhiannon had already lost her number one pre-selection spot on the NSW Senate ticket in November of last year.

This followed an unprecedented dispute with her fellow Greens senators over the Gonski 2.0 funding package, during leader Richard Di Natale’s attempt to negotiate with the Turnbull Government to get it through.

For a while Senator Rhiannon was expelled from the Greens party room.

Rhiannon had authorised a leaflet that claimed that the Turnbull Government’s plan would strip funding from public schools, which her colleagues said undermined their negotiations.

With Rhiannon gone, the Greens are embracing a senator who appears to be a conventional mainstream environmentalist, but who brings with her some multicultural credentials too.

The Greens remain confused about their direction.

Former leader Bob Brown, who was passionate about the environment, knew it was the perfect recruiting tool for young activists and fund-raising. For a long time it was a proven method of electoral success.

Di Natale has been more mainstream in his views, and originally more willing to seek compromise with the Government.

But with Labor lurching to the left on economics and trade unionism, the Greens have suffered an electoral slump, forcing Di Natale to chase more radical policies such as decriminalisation of drugs.

Dr Faruqi is unlikely to bring much to the Greens apart from ticking a number of progressive-left boxes, confirming that the Greens are on the right side of virtue (or virtue signalling, at least).

But the Greens' continued inability to connect with mainstream Australia or to come up with a set of policies that are anything more than virtue signalling means they have nowhere forward.

Rhiannon was a known quantity, and thus a known danger: an internationalist who wanted to link up with her socialist comrades around the world.

The rest of the Greens are more opportunistic, wanting to capitalise on every progressive trend going without any constructive policies.

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