Breaking up is never easy

GETTING dumped is never fun — least of all publicly — but give me a clean break any day, not the ‘‘let’s stay friends’’ routine.

It just gets too complicated.

Greens leader Christine Milne called Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week and said their political relationship was over.

The conversation went something like this:

Milne: Hi Julia . . . it’s, um, Christine . . . look, we need to talk.

Gillard: Talk? I’ve been waiting for this call for a while now.

Milne: Yeah, well . . . um, listen, things just haven’t been working out recently. It’s not me, it’s you.

Gillard: What do you mean it’s me? I passed a carbon tax for you.

Milne: I know, I know. But you’ve changed. You’re all about jobs in mining now.

Gillard: Righto.

Milne: Don’t be like that, we can still be friends. I’ll always support you.

Then, like all break ups that end with promises of amicability, the dumper goes out and slags off the dumpee in a public coup de grace.

Senator Milne gave a speech to the National Press Gallery this week, accusing Labor of selling out the people to big miners.

What was she going to do about it?

Nothing. She still guaranteed not to block supply or support no confidence motions because, basically, Tony Abbott is worse.

So it is the deal you have when you’re not having a deal and the split you have when you’re not having a split.

Let’s be clear, Senator Milne’s decision is more about politics than ethics.

There’s an election in September and the Greens are desperate to hold the balance of

power in the Senate.

Labor’s decision to only protect a sliver of the Tarkine and its disastrous implementation of the mining tax will continue to hurt the Greens if they continue to support Labor.

The parties need to start differentiating themselves now. In the coming months you will see Labor spruiking jobs, jobs, jobs and the Greens getting back to their core environmental message.

One should expect a similar rift between Labor and the Greens at the state level as our 2014 election draws near.

However, there’s a difference between the federal and state political sphere.

One being the Greens’ have-your-cakeand-eat-it-too deal, which allows them to vote in Cabinet on issues they agree with but absent themselves from Cabinet solidarity, the staple of government, and criticise moves they do not like.

The second is how much the Greens have benefited from sharing Labor’s social

agenda — even if same sex marriage and euthanasia reforms have not passed Parliament.

Acting Tasmanian Greens leader Tim Morris has already said his party will need to ‘‘pick a fight’’ with its minority government partner.

Expect the state break-up to be more subtle — maybe a crumpled up, ‘‘you’re dumped’’ note left in the pencil case.


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