Episode 5 – The Greens – Committee Central

Warning: This post was previously password protected. It has now been made public since it now has limited, if any, relevance to the internal workings of the NSW Greens. A significant number of the issues raised here have now been wholly or partially addressed or are in the process of being addressed

As I originally stated this blog was leaked to Crikey by a person or persons unknown, most probably from the Inner Sydney Greens. The media then published all or parts of it based on the idea that it was true.

I told Crikey at the time that that the post was satirical in that the level of exaggeration was such that it could not be considered an accurate reflection on the workings of the Greens NSW.

It was and is not supposed to be taken seriously. It’s meant to be sarcastic, or facetious. It’s called satire. Like all satire there may be strong elements of truth but it is not supposed to be taken literally. Crikey understood this but in the interests of sensationalism it ignores my statement as all second rate publications will do if they see the chance for a story – even if that story is largely garbage.

For others, especially those in the Greens NSW with a sense of humour that is developmentally constrained. It’s supposed to be funny. If it’s not then that’s your problem – you take yourself too seriously – you should consider joining the Mormons or the Scientologists. The Greens are not supposed to be a cult.

The Wylie’s Baths election and weather report

The weather at Wylie’s today is unknown because I am not in Australia

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Episode 5

Committee Central

As mentioned in the Episode Three of the Election Blog (The Maelstrom), one of the joys of working in the NSW Greens is that it helps one understand the nature of chaos. The Greens operate like a natural system; a type of order that parallels the way in which natural systems are based on chaos.

In the Greens the beat of one person’s minor media release in the outer reaches of the Green’s solar system (e.g. Dubbo or similar) can create chaos right across the Green’s natural world.

A similar chaos ecosystem operates in the State Election Campaign Committee which is responsible for over-view of the state election campaign. This is a committee that is set up a few months before each state election.

It has no guarantee of continuity with any other previous election committee, any other structure in the NSW Greens and is established with a cast iron certainty of internal conflict. Good preparation for being in Parliament really which, more than any other deliberately created democratic institution ever invented by human-kind, is designed to create conflict, avoid decisions, ensure internal opposition and promote hate.

The Maelstrom say “On top of that you create a second management structure “SECC” (the State Election Campaign Committee). SECC is deliberately structured not to work well. Each section of the party with a vested interest in access to resources is allowed to have a representative or at least a spokesperson, each of whom then argues vigorously for their own vested interest. It’s a form of equal opportunity nepotism.”

To attend a SECC meeting as a Campaign Coordinator or Communications Coordinator guarantees a level of stress of 11 out of a normal scale of 10. Your stomache turns into a knot somewhat similar to the image below, your heart-rate rises similar to that experienced by a Tour De France rider on the L’Alpe d’Huez, and your desire for a stiff drink makes Ernest Hemingway look like a teetotaller.

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Stomache of staff member prior to SECC meeting

SECC is a who’s who of the famous and infamous in the Greens. Being the Greens all are equal, of course, but like Animal Farm some are more equal than others. The least equal are the employees, as these are mere paid slaves. There are three regular attendees who fall in this category being (names omitted) aka The King of the North (KON), The Queen of Spin (QoS) and The Ice Princess. Other regular committee members are Our Dear Leader, Lady of Lacerating Looks and the Countess of Suffering.

SECC’s most famous characteristic is its inability to make any decision with less than about four meetings to discuss the relevant item, by which time the decision usually comes too late to be of any use to anyone. Most notably this occurs in any decision involving money where the level of vested interests mean that at least half the members would rather no one receives any money if they are not getting a big dollop themselves. This especially applies if the member is from any seat which is a priority seat but isn’t getting 100% of the funds available or is from a non-priority seat but who feels it should be one.

Ideally, to meet its TOR of being more useless than the average Federal Parliamentary expenses guidelines, SECC should finally decide to give extra money to winnable marginal seats when it is much too late for that seat to spend any of that money in any sort of useful way. If this then causes the seat to be lost by a couple of thousand votes then that failure can be used to justify not having given the money in the first place and to show that its grant was a waste.

A key role of SECC is to decide on communications strategies. This includes agreement on key launches and associated key media issues, slogans, style guides, policies and initiatives. Given that most members cannot agree on any launch or media release that doesn’t mention their own name at least 22 times, preferably embossed in gold, the majority of the meetings (and subsequent abusive email exchanges) are taken up critiquing the Queen of Spin (QoS) for daring to suggest a launch/media strategy that is focused and integrated and actually focuses on seats that we are at risk of winning rather than on seats we have no risk of losing.

Ideally these critiques of the QoS (or others) should take place using a voice raised sufficiently to be considered a shout in anything other than SECC meeting. The tone of voice must be one of withering sarcasm about the (implied) stupidity of the QoS and the speaker must frown with a twisted expression that suggests how much pain the speaker is enduring at the suggestion that s/he has any motivation than the best interests of the party. The grimace also implies pain at the speaker’s need to indulge in abuse and bullying that clearly contravene his/her own commitment to equality and safe meeting practice (all in the interest of the party of course).

Decisions taken at SECC usually bear resemblance to a cross between a blancmange and a magic pudding with M & Ms on top. They are soft and rubbery and attempt to have a little bit of everything. The key idea is to pretend that the Greens have enough resources to give everyone what they need. In this way you can have a “decision” that decides that the Greens will have six election slogans and, like Pick a Box,  you just choose whichever one you think will work best for you. This is a strategic decision in the same sense that Lance Armstrong was not a drug cheat.

Generally, as with any committee, the members indulging in this type of behaviour (come back Andrew Bolt all is forgiven) are a small minority. But one of the enduring characteristics of the other members of SECC is that they all have hands larger than Robert Wadlow as a result of spending many meetings sitting on them rather than enforcing good meeting practice or intervening to stop bullying. It’s also a common characteristic across the party as a whole where the average office bearer/member clearly thinks consensus is a term meaning to avoid seeing, saying or hearing anything that involves conflict. Never stand up for internal ethics or principles if it means other people may not like you – after all you may need their vote or support to be a candidate.

Best when confronted with abuse of process to close your eyes, acknowledge that Edmund Burke was a wimp, and that this famous statement only applies to other political parties “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (women) to do nothing”.

Previous episodes

– 1. The Oxymoronic Offer

– 2. Into the Bearpit

– 3. The Maelstrom

– 4. From our dear leader to the postman and back

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