Greens too bourgeois for Adam Bandt when he was a uni student
- From: The Australian
- August 28, 2010
The new MP once thought of his party as a route to achieving socialism
GREENS MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt has defended comments he made on a Marxist student website 15 years ago, in which he denounced capitalism and labelled the Greens a "bourgeois" political party that could be used to push a socialist agenda.
The comments, made in a two-page memo written by Mr Bandt on March 4, 1995, while he was a student activist at Murdoch University, first surfaced on Victorian political blogger Andrew Landeryou's website VexNews.
As Mr Bandt and Greens leader Bob Brown continued discussions yesterday with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan about the formation of the next federal government, the memo raised questions about Mr Bandt's student politics and his views of the Labor Party, which he referred to in the 1995 memo as "almost as right-wing as the US Democrats".
In the 1995 memo, Mr Bandt said he was "towards an anti-capitalist, anti-social democratic, internationalist movement".
Identifying himself as a member of the Left Alliance, Mr Bandt said, "the parliamentary road to socialism is non-existent". He called the Greens a "bourgeois" party but said supporting them might be the most effective strategy.
"Communists can't fetishise alternative political parties, but should always make some kind of materially based assessment about the effectiveness of any given strategy come election time," he wrote in the 1995 memo.
Responding to questions from The Australian yesterday, Mr Bandt defended the posting.
"These comments were made on a student politics email discussion list over 15 years ago. Like many uni students, I was involved in a range of political activities, including the student union at university," he said.
"I have always had progressive views and at uni worked with many young people who identified with the Left side of politics under various labels, including socialists and Labor students."
Mr Bandt is the latest in a series of politicians whose university opinions have come back to haunt them. Left-leaning grassroots organisation GetUp! seized on comments made by Tony Abbott during his days as a student in 1979. The Opposition Leader then returned fire by drawing attention to Julia Gillard's university association with the ultra-left-wing Students Forum.
A spokeswoman for Ms Gillard said yesterday she stood by her comments that she had positive and constructive discussions with Mr Bandt and Senator Brown.
Senator Brown last night said Mr Bandt continued to have his "160 per cent support".
Citing his own background as a Presbyterian, Senator Brown said he and Mr Bandt have "a good balance of origins".
"I am quite intrigued in a happy sort of way with the origins of thought of all of our Greens -- we're a very eclectic lot," he said.
The Greens leader said there was absolutely no need for Mr Bandt to publicly distance himself from his remarks in 1995.
"I would not come out and denounce the views I had. We are not into book burning in Australia," Senator Brown said.
Mr Bandt, a former industrial relations lawyer with Slater and Gordon, made history last weekend by becoming the first Greens candidate ever to be elected to the House of Representatives in a general election.