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It's time for Richard Di Natale to resign
By Matt Hrkac, 02 April 2018

It has become more than evident that current Federal Greens parliamentary leader Richard Di Natale is failing to make an impression on progressive voters, many of whom see him as out of touch and as a propagator to disunity within the Greens. It isn't just soft Labor-Greens voters, people who once were warm to the Greens; people who are within the Greens are also scratching their heads over some of Di Natale's decisions, as are people further to the Left who would otherwise sympathise with the Greens.

I am thoroughly on the record as being a supporter of Di Natale becoming the Greens federal parliamentary leader. I did not see the now infamous "the Greens are the party of mainstream progressive voters" quote, one of his first statements upon assuming the leadership, as a statement that would cause so much disunity. Instead, I incorrectly saw it as a unifying statement: that he would seek to maintain the current base of support as well as expand that base to reach out and bring over new support - people who live in regional areas (the party was already making inroads into some rural areas) as well as working class people more broadly. Critics however were ultimately correct in broadly interpreting that initial statement as anything but unifying, but instead as a chase towards the centre, as a means of driving out the more leftist elements of the party and to pitch to small l liberals.

When Di Natale first became leader of the Greens, he was based in my home town of Geelong. Those who know Geelong know that it is very much a solidly working class city. Here was the opportunity for Di Natale to use his position and new found influence to actually reach out to a new layer of voters prosecute a case for why working class people should vote for the Greens. Instead, despite having the option of at least maintaining a presence in Geelong, he chose to close up shop and base himself in Melbourne in an office that is arguably more difficult for constituents to find and access off the street than his original. In hindsight, despite how little it may seem, this decision was probably his first big mistake he made as leader of the Greens.

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The Batman by-election, triggered by the resignation of often controversial, often clumsy Labor MP David Feeney over doubts about his citizenship status and eligibility to sit in Parliament, was an election that pitted Labor and the Greens against each other in a two way contest. For the Greens, it was a question as to whether the party could cement its status as a significant political force in the once safe Labor strongholds in the inner city of Melbourne. It was also a test for Labor and whether they could potentially hold off the Greens, or whether these once safe seats falling to the Greens is an eventual inevitability.

This by-election told us that Labor, with the right combination of candidate and policy, can hold off the Greens. Though despite their win in Batman, Labor are still far more pessimistic about their long-term fortunes in these electorates, as one Labor source told me: "Ged Kearney has bought us a term, maybe two at most, in Batman. As house prices rise, the old working class is gradually being replaced by a wealthier younger demographic, people who's parents voted Liberal, who are economically liberal but socially progressive; they care about refugees and environment but the base economic concerns that working class people face don't really register with these voters. If Malcolm Turnbull was running the Liberal Party how he wanted to, or if the Greens didn't exist: these voters would probably vote Liberal".

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We are seeing it happen again: One Nation is outpolling the Greens, according to the latest Newspoll. Not only this, but they are outpolling the Greens by their widest margin yet. Yes, this is the same One Nation of that is chastised for possible electoral fraud. The same One Nation that is being investigated by the Australian Electoral Commission for not declaring donations made to it. The same One Nation whose candidates and representatives consistently distorts the truth, and merely only pretend to stand up for everyday Australians.

The Greens, by contrast, are almost perfectly and seemingly clean; at least on the surface, anyway. So much so they go to great lengths to ensure that they can't possibly be portrayed in a negative light in a way that they can't defend their way out of - to the point that they'll even water down potentially controversial (read: radical) platform positions to avoid negative media attention. Yes, One Nation, the Russel Coight of Australian politics, the party where "if something can go wrong with it, it will"; is outpolling the Greens (sorry, I don't have a suitable analogy here); a party that goes to great lengths to keep out of any sort of trouble.

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Call this part three in the federal government "saga" that involves Richard Marles (who is, as I have said in past posts, sympathetic of the situation that Geelong High School has been in for the last few years) - this time, some actual media attention has been drawn to the issue relating to the funding of Geelong High School for building repairs - finally putting a face to the whole issue, as well as drawing attention from the community.

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Mentioned In Parliament...
By Matt Hrkac, 15 March 2012

Just an update regarding the Richard Marles visit to Geelong High School that I posted about a few weeks ago because of an email that I sent him earlier this year.

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Over the last year, I have heard many complaints and concerns of teachers and students who have to work and learn in sub-par classrooms at Geelong High School. With me being on the Student Representative Council this year, I vested it upon myself and made it an issue on my agenda that should properly be recognised by the appropriate people.Over the Christmas holidays, I sent an email on behalf of the student body at Geelong High School to several politicians; both state and federal, regarding the state of some of the facilities at Geelong High School. In particular, the school's Winstanley building where the arts and most of the technology facilities are presently located, with nothing being done to effectively improve the learning and working conditions of classrooms in this building.

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In the spirit of reconciliation I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community on which I live and work. I pay my sincerist respects to all Elders past and present. I live on unceded lands of the Wathaurong (Wadda Wurrung) People of the Kulin Nation.