Are the Greens tearing themselves apart? – The Ultimate guide to the Great Greens Civil War

Australian Politics, Regressive Left, Rundown

This week six time candidate Alex Bhathal quit the Greens declaring that she was no longer willing to work in an atmosphere of “relentless organisational bullying”. This was compounded by widespread rumours that a third of the parties’ Victorian membership either has quit or is in the process of doing so.

And who can blame them? The Victorian Greens have not had a great time recently. It was revealed that their long-time leader and MP Greg Barber had been forced to pay off a staffer over claims of sexual harassment, claims that it is rumoured were downplayed due to him being party chief Richard Di Natale’s brother in law.

There was the debacle of the Victorian State election with one candidate having been revealed as a rapper whose lyrics promoted drugging, raping and violently assaulting women and another candidate having to be stood down over actual rape allegations. And that’s not even considering the result which saw the Greens vote dip and half their MPs lose their seats.

That’s not even mentioning that Victorian leader Samantha Ratnam, supposedly the head of one of the more moderate and sensible branches of the party recently twice in two weeks attended public events organised by Marxist extremist groups and at the latter even made a speech under the Anarcho-Communist variant of the terrorist “Antifa” flag.

Things haven’t been going great for the Greens in Victoria.

But at least it’s better than the absolute sh*tfight that’s been going on in NSW.

With serious allegations of sexual abuse, the alleged cover up of a violent rape, the stealing of preselection ballot papers and the infiltration of notorious violent extremist groups it’s fair to say that in recent times the internal politics of the NSW Greens make their southern cousins look tame.

In fact even in the last two months the branch has come to the point of splitting over the deep personal and ideological differences that are threatening to tear it apart. For a party that has managed to keep its internal affairs secret for most of its twenty six years of existence the recent infighting is an extreme change of pace (not to mention hilarious to those watching from outside).

To properly understand what’s happening (and the craziness that is no doubt further to come) here is a brief timeline of some of the most important events that have led to this the most traditionally extreme branch of Australia’s largest far left party to the point of disintegration:

July 2016 – The far left of the NSW Greens loses the preselection battle to replace the late MP John Kaye in the NSW upper house to Justin Fields, the protégé of Moderate faction boss and fellow upper house MP Jeremy Buckingham. The widow of the late John Kaye had urged a vote against Fields, declaring him to be insufficiently socialist for her husband’s legacy.

After the huge, ugly and unusually public battle for the preselection former Greens leader Bob Brown calls on the extreme left Senator and factional leader Lee Rhiannon to resign, citing the Greens’ recent poor performance in her state and emphasising a need for “renewal”.

The far left of the NSW party decide to make him eat those words.

Late 2016 – The newly named “Left Renewal” faction comes out of the closet, the first time a faction has openly declared itself in the Australian Greens. They describe themselves as being a mixture of Anarcho-communists, anarchists, platformists, socialists and Marxists whose aim is to move the Greens in the direction of advocating the abolition of Capitalism. While no politicians are officially affiliated it is common knowledge that NSW MP David Shoebridge and Senator Lee Rhiannon are the group’s standard bearers. Many of the more prominent Left Renewal organisers work in the offices of sympathetic elected representatives.

The response from the mainstream of the party is immediate; they are attacked by everyone from Bob Brown to Richard Di Natale. Coming out as an organised faction, even if they called it a “tendency” is seen as a direct challenge to the national leadership.

January 2017 – Left Renewal’s Facebook group endorses burning the Australian flag on Australia Day. Later at an anti-Australia Day event in Sydney addressed by Left Renewal affiliated MP David Shoebridge a Left Renewal member and former Greens staffer Hayden Williams is arrested after publicly burning the national flag.

A few days later the Greens National Council declares formal factions “incompatible” with the party’s principles.

February 2017 – The Left Renewal attempt to overturn the preselection of Dawn Walker of the Moderatefaction fails after being voted down by the State Delegates Council with 38 votes in favour, 10 against and six abstentions.

April 2017 – A Victorian group of far-left Greens members indicate their intention to form their own version of Left Renewal called “Grassroots Greens”. They are quickly stamped down and “discouraged” by the local party apparatus.

June 2017 – Long-time communist activist and Left renewal figurehead Lee Rhiannon is suspended by the federal Greens party room for working behind the leadership’s back on education policy. She was further accused by her more mainstream rivals of illicitly using her electorate office as an organising point for her factional supporters for her upcoming preselection fight.

August 2017 – Rhiannon along with David Shoebridge speaks at the “Keep Left” conference of the Revolutionary Socialist Trotskyist group “Solidarity” founded and led by veteran Marxist extremist Ian Rintoul. Solidarity begins to support the efforts of Rhiannon to keep her Senate position as her pre selection battle against Mehreen Faruqi heats up.

Also in August an ABC Four Corners program airs in which Richard Di Natale, former leaders Christine Milne and Bob Brown as well as Greens senator for Tasmania Nick McKim and NSW Moderate factional boss Jeremy Buckingham all attack Senator Rhiannon.

September 2017 – Vicious scenes inside the NSW Greens party room as Newton MP and prominent Mehreen Faruqi supporter Jenny Leong storms out of a meeting screaming “F*CK YOU!” at David Shoebridge over what she considers unfair media tactics by his Left Renewal backed faction in the preselection struggle.

November 2017 – Lee Rhiannon loses her preselection battle to Mehreen Faruqi (mother of ABC journalist Ozman Faruqi) 1301 votes to 843 in a huge blow to Left Renewal. For this vote the Moderate faction united their forces with the generally newer, milder left leaning members around Ms Faruqi. Many of the young activists that had at first flocked to Left Renewal begin to drift away.

Feb 2018 – Lee Rhiannon backs a complaint designed to oust Moderate faction boss Jeremy Buckingham from the party over his criticism of her on the August Four Corners program. Buckingham threatens legal action against the party if the complaint is allowed to go ahead and the matter is dropped.

April 2018 – The new “centre left” grouping around the victorious Mehreen Faruqi (and backed by the Moderate faction) calls for Lee Rhiannon to stand down early so that Ms Faruqi can take her seat with a good run up to the next election.

May 2018- Left Renewal linked candidates win an overwhelming victory in the preselection battle to decide the upper house ticket at the upcoming 2019 NSW state elections. The new “centre left” faction around Faruqi switches their support to the extreme left and away from the Moderates.

Extremist associate David Shoebridge smashes Jeremy Buckingham out of first place with 1161 primary votes compared with Buckingham’s 780. Because of Greens affirmative action rules stating that one of the top two spots must always go to a woman Buckingham is demoted to the un-winnable third spot in favour of the centre left leaning Abigail Boyd.

The Moderates hold off complete defeat however with former MP and Moderate faction stalwart Cate Faehrmann snatching the votes needed to grab the NSW seat recently vacated by soon to be Senator Mehreen Faruqi.

Lee Rhiannon then “completely coincidentally” announces her early retirement from Federal parliament, leaving her seat open for Ms Faruqi to claim.

August 2018- An ABC program goes to air examining allegations of sexual assault and harassment inside the Greens including allegations made against Jeremy Buckingham from 2011. Lee Rhiannon publicly calls on Buckingham to stand aside until an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment is completed. Also in August David Shoebridge makes his second appearance as a speaker at the annual “Keep Left” conference held by the extremist Trotskyist group “Solidarity”.

Sep 2018- Jeremy Buckingham claims that an internal review into the sexual assault allegations against him had cleared him of any wrongdoing. The NSW Greens respond by saying the investigation process had not yet concluded, “And it is disappointing that Jeremy has pre-emptively released the findings”.

13 November 2018 – Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi and NSW MP Jenny Leong publicly call for Buckingham not to contest the next election. Leong makes a speech in NSW parliament under privilege all but accusing Buckingham of being a sex offender and also claiming he had tried to intimidate her. Party leader Richard Di Natale also calls for Buckingham to stand aside before the next NSW state election due in early 2019.

15 November 2018- Greens MP former staffer to Buckingham and Moderate faction member Justin Field accuses Leong of using her speech in Parliament as an “an orchestrated political hit” designed to force Buckingham from his seat.

20 November 2018- In her last speech to parliament (due to being bumped to position 4 on the preselection list) outgoing Moderate faction MP Dawn Walker defended Buckingham and attacked  the far left of the party declaring:

“Left renewal – an anarchist faction in the NSW Greens became public in late 2016 – when it formed to overthrow capitalism and undermine my preselection for good measure. They harassed me, bullied me, slandered me and threatened me,”

As she spoke a mob of far left members of the Greens in the public gallery attempted to shout her down and drown out her speech with chants.

8 December 2018- After a torturous state delegate council meeting and two failed votes a motion is passed calling for Buckingham to stand aside for the good of the party. Buckingham describes his own party as “corrupt and rotten”, and accuses the Greens of rewarding “bullying behaviour and the lynch mob”.

When asked by members of the Moderate faction for a recount of the preselection so that the preferences of those who voted for Buckingham could be properly allocated the party’s state campaign manager, Andrew Blake, told the council that a recount could not happen because there had been a mysterious and previously unreported break-in at the party’s head office and all the ballots had been stolen

9 December 2018- Buckingham declares his intention to fight the motion against him in court.

Buckingham ally and MP Cate Faehrmann lays out a blistering attack on the party, saying:

“It is my firm belief that the party in NSW has been infiltrated by destructive extreme left forces who will stop at nothing to weaken those in the party, like myself and Jeremy, who want nothing more than to make a difference for the planet, our climate and our future,”

Faehrmann also expressed extreme and understandable scepticism about the magical break in of the Greens party offices that nobody had even heard about where apparently nothing aside from ballot papers were stolen. Ms Faehrmann said the comments by state campaign manager Andrew Blake were “beyond comprehension”.

“How can a political party’s head office be broken into, ballot papers be stolen, and it not be reported to the Federal Police?” Ms Faehrmann wrote online.

12 December 2018- Moderate faction MPs Faehrmann and Justin Field along with Dawn Walker and hundreds of Greens supporters, councillors and even a Mayor from around NSW sign an open letter sensationally threatening to quit the party unless members of the Left Renewal faction and of the Trotskyist extremist group “Solidarity” are expelled and their organisations proscribed.

The Moderates also demand that if Buckingham is to stand down then his now suddenly “stolen” votes must be “found” and recounted with preferences allocated properly (a move that would almost certainly benefit Dawn Walker and penalise Abigail Boyd).

They set a deadline of Monday the 17th of December and threaten to split the party if their demands remain unmet.

18th December 2018- Following a meeting of the party’s national council Cate Faehrmann and Justin Field back away from their threat to cause a split, instead accepting a commitment for the party to “oversee an independent root and branch review of the NSW Greens”. Dawn Walker and Jeremy Buckingham refuse to accept the compromise with Buckingham declaring:

“It’s a Band-Aid on a weeping wound that is the rotten and corrupt NSW Greens party. This type of review happened only a few years ago and resulted in virtually no reform… The resolution does not deal with the immediate issues of the party refusing to conduct a democratic recount should I leave the Greens ticket and capitulates to the extreme left who are running riot in the Greens.”

The forces of the Far Left rejoiced declaring total victory, and from the outside it’s easy to see why. The Trotskyist extremist group “Solidarity” and the self-professed anarchists and communists from Left Renewal were not be expelled or their groups proscribed. The idea of a recount for the preselection should Buckingham step down seemed to be going nowhere and the mysteriously missing ballot papers are yet to appear.

20th December 2018- Bob Brown announces that he has been blocked by the “Red” Left faction of the NSW Greens from forming a part of the review of that branches internal electoral practices. Dr Brown declared:

“No, I’m not on the panel. I was considered too Moderate and considerate for the Left…It’s essential we have this review and that it have strong teeth … And its recommendations must be put to the members of the NSW Greens…The one thing the red NSW Greens have always blocked is grassroots democracy.”

20th December 2018, 12.30 PM EST – Jeremy Buckingham appears in front of the nation’s press, declares that he is quitting the Greens and “ripping up his membership”, to emphasise the point he proceeds to rip up a piece of paper with “toxic Greens” written on it in front of the cameras.

Buckingham declares that will contest the NSW election as an “independent Real Green” promising to run on a “more genuine green platform” that would “challenge the NSW Greens’ Marxist agenda”. Buckingham declares that the Greens are “No longer the Party that Bob Brown founded”.

So will the war go on? With Buckingham gone the Moderates are down but certainly not out and without his baggage they might very well be able to turn the tables. Despite what the far left seems to believe it’s the politics and sensibilities of the Moderates and not those of the red flag waving lunatics that are more in line with the rank and file membership of the wider national party let alone the average Greens voter.

The ability of Faehrmann and Justin Field to gain so many signatures for their petition from prominent members within NSW to outright expel the Marxist elements displays that while the far Left has the ascendency now that may not always remain the case.

I know I speak for those of us watching from the outside who consider all factions in the Greens to simply be different flavours of treason when I say I sincerely hope that the chaos continues. For those of us who love Australia it is comforting to see from this week’s news in Victoria that the disorder seems to be spreading to the wider party. The Greens are after all disgusting and we should hope for nothing but the worst for all of them be they “Moderate” or downright Marxist.

As Henry Kissinger once said regarding the Iran-Iraq war “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.”