Government faces tough battle

by Chris Griffith
Written 21 January 1996


my face


The Federal Labor Government faces a tough battle to get electoral support from both the Queensland Greens and the environmental movement on March 2nd.

But Queensland Greens convenor and Senate candidate Cr Angela Jones said Prime Minister Keating's attack on national leader Bob Brown last week was not the reason Labor could loose support.

"We're not going to take personal affront, and be offended or hurt," she said yesterday.

"We will be trying to get the best environment and social justice policies out of both parties. Clearly the major conservation groups are very unhappy about the government's performance on wood chipping, forests, and on green house gas emission levels."

Cr Jones said local Green branches would decide who received preferences in House of Representatives seats, and the party's state campaign committee would decides preferences in the Senate.

Last week Mr Keating accused Dr Brown of putting "his environmental credentials asunder by seeking political office", when he announced a $463 million package to win the hearts, minds, and first preference votes of environmentalists.

But the package and the federal government's recent environment record has not won over the Queensland Greens nor other sections of the environment movement, at least not yet.

Speaking from Townville, the acting National Campaign Director of the Wilderness Society, Virginia Young, yesterday said neither party was in a position to have won environment support.

"The Federal Government has made the worst every forest decision on record with regard to forest protection and woodchipping.

"They've been hoodwinking the public on their forestry protection package.

"The government has left the environmental movement dismayed, and there's a sense of loss of confidence in the federal ALP."

Ms Young, who is in Townsville for the Mundingburra by-election, said the peak conservation groups this week will announce their voter recommendations for next Saturday's poll.

Meanwhile the Queensland Greens this week will hold talks with Democrat Leader Cheryl Kernot in an effort to patch their differences on whether a Green candidate will stand in the federal seat of Herbert.

Cr Jones yesterday said at the grass roots level, the Democrats and Greens were working "quite cooperatively".

"I think it is very important to be clear who the rift is between -- and the rift is between Cheryl Kernot and the Greens, not between the Democrats and the Greens."

Yesterday Senator Kernot wrote to a Gold Coast newspaper saying "it's not accurate to call the Green Party the political wing of the environment movement".