HISTORY shows that minority parties in Australian politics have a use-by date.
The Democratic Labor Party, the Australian Democrats and One Nation all had their moment in the spotlight but failed to survive the rough-and-tumble of the political landscape.
It seems Australians are largely content with the long-established political system of Labor vs Liberal.
Voters will change their support between the two, in what is traditionally electoral punishment for bad policy and poor performance.
In recent weeks, and more so at the weekend, the Labor Party made it clear it would not do any preference deals with The Greens in NSW or Victoria.
It now sees The Greens are a political enemy – a minority party with too much power, with policies that Labor believes are dangerous in mainstream politics and to its political standing.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister, when speaking at the NSW Labor Conference, failed to mention The Greens. Yet the day before, the conference hotly debated the preference issue, resolving to boycott the environmental party.
Typically, that was the Prime Minister avoiding the elephant in the room, a job she is often good at.
Sidestepping the issue the NSW and Victorian branches are talking about won’t make the issue disappear.
Environmental issues are important and will continue to be into the future, but The Greens are more than an environmental party.
The party’s inability or unwillingness to compromise on other issues has made it hard for Labor. It is for this reason the party’s rank and file want a clear definition between the two.
The Greens might talk about the environment often, but the party stands for much more and has many unpopular policies to everyday Australians.
What we are witnessing now is a potential change in the Australian political landscape.
With The Greens’ high-profile former leader, Bob Brown, now out of the picture, it is possible the party will lose some of its exposure.
It happened when Cheryl Kernot and Meg Lees left the Democrats leadership, and when Pauline Hanson said goodbye to One Nation.
Without Labor support, The Greens will be isolated.
The party will face a tough battle at the next federal election, a time in its history that is likely to be a defining moment, in one way or another.