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Greens and Labor go separate ways in lead up to election

THE Greens' decision to tear up its agreement with Labor will give Queenslanders a "stark" choice on election day, Senator Larissa Waters said.

Greens Leader Christine Milne used her address to the National Press Club on Tuesday to reveal the formal agreement struck between the parties in the wake of the 2010 election was "dead".

Senator Waters, just as her leader did on Tuesday, accused the ALP of pandering to the interests of mining companies.

This was of particular concern to Queensland, she said, because it was at the "epicentre" of the mining boom.

"I think Queenslanders know the mining boom is not all it's cracked up to be and lot of those folk in those regional and coastal towns are actually suffering the serious consequences of increased housing prices, scarcity of workers for local small business, increased living prices. It's actually placing a lot of pressure on those regional centres," the first-term Queensland senator told APN Newsdesk.

"So I think this a really important announcement for us in Queensland because people will now clearly know there is a choice between the Greens, who want to care for people .. and the environment, and the old parties who simply want to do whatever the big miners ask them to do."

Senator Waters has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Federal Government's attempts to hand over environmental powers to the state governments.

While she vowed to continue fighting any such move, she conceded the government was not listening to the Greens on matters concerning the environment.

"Big business ... was writing Labor's environmental policy well before the agreement was reached with the Greens and they unfortunately are still writing Labor's environment policy," she said.

"I think the influence of business over that plan to hand off federal powers to the states was always much stronger."

But despite the acrimonious split Senator Waters said the agreement had been a "huge success", citing carbon pricing and the dental health reform.

These "Greens' ideas" that would never had happened without the agreement, she said.

Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne.
Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne. Contributed

Despite Senator Milne's statement on Tuesday that the Greens would be focusing on inner city seats at the election, Senator Waters said the party was still focused on engaging with the regions.

"We're finding a lot of the issues that people are facing are those issues in the regions," she said, using FIFO work practices and the impacts of flooding as examples.

"The issues that we're campaigning on really speak to and affect and respond to the issues that regional Australians and Queenslanders ... are concerned about."

She said while there was no polling to show the Greens' vote would improve on September 14, the party's stand on issues like coal seam gas would hold it in good stead come election day.

"I think coal seam gas is one of the issues that really highlights the difference in approach to people and the environment and it will be one that I think Queenslanders will flock to the Greens about," she said.

Senator Waters also responded to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's description of the Greens as a "party of protest".

Ms Gillard told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday she was not surprised by Senator Milne's announcement.
"The Greens party is fundamentally a party that would prefer to complain about things than get solutions," Ms Gillard said ahead of a community cabinet meeting.

Senator Waters not surprisingly took issue with Ms Gillard's assessment.

"I think she meant that in a disparaging way but I'm afraid we've got an awful lot to protest about," Senator Waters said.

"We've been in the balance of power for several years now and we've got MPs at every level of government all around the country so clearly we are far more than just a protest party.

"But we will continue to protest against the outdated and short-term thinking of the old parties."

Topics:  christine milne, environment, federal election 2013, greens, julia gillard, labor



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