Australia markets closed

New Greens’ leader’s plan to echo controversial American politician

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 04: New Greens Leader Adam Bandt speaks to media on February 04, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. Barnaby Joyce is challenging Michael McCormack for the leadership of the National party as the junior Coalition party faces a spill on the first sitting day of parliament for the year. The Greens also chose a new leader, Adam Bandt following the resignation of Richard Di Natale on Monday. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Greens’ leader Adam Bandt has wasted no time declaring the new direction of the party which includes a major change to Medicare.

Bandt won the uncontested leadership after Richard Di Natale decided to resign on Monday to spend more time with his family. Larissa Waters and Nick McKim will serve as co-deputy leaders.

Bandt was deputy leader from April 2012 to May 2015, and co-deputy leader from June 2019, and is the party’s sole lower house MP. 

Bandt's Green New Deal would see Medicare overhauled. Image: Getty

The new leader on Tuesday said he plans to introduce a Green New Deal to Australian politics, echoing US Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

“We are in the middle of a climate emergency and long running jobs and inequality crises. People are angry and anxious because the government has no plan for the big problems facing the country. This is why Australia needs a Green New Deal,” he posted on Twitter, shortly after winning the leadership. 

The Australian Green New Deal is a program of economic, social and environmental reforms designed to move Australia to become a zero-carbon and more equitable society. 

Bandt said the Deal would also see dental included in Medicare and “genuinely free” education.

Currently, dental treatments are only covered if they’re thought to be essential for a patient’s health, meaning most general exams and treatments aren’t covered.

What is the Green New Deal? 

The Green New Deal also hopes to boost jobs and decrease inequality. Image: Getty

The phrase came to prominence last year after Ocasio-Cortez sponsored a bill, dubbed the Green New Deal, which would see the US achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, establish millions of high-paying jobs, secure clean water and air and promote justice and equity. 

That deal also called for the US to have 100 per cent renewable power by 2050. While the bill failed to pass the Senate in March 2019, the topics it raised remain prominent in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. 

The Australian Greens’ Green New Deal echoes Ocasio-Cortez’. 

It calls for Australia to “move to a zero carbon society” and for all Australians to get a “fair go”. 

“Studying hard and completing university or TAFE too often ends in underemployment, job insecurity and low pay,” the Greens’ Green New Deal campaign page reads. 

“A Green New Deal means government leading the country in transforming our economy, creating new jobs and industries powered by clean energy and delivering universal services like dental into Medicare and genuinely free education,” Bandt said on Twitter. 

“This is what I will be fighting for,” the former industrial lawyer added. 

The Greens first announced its plan to introduce a Green New Deal in November 2019, with then-leader Di Natale saying Australia needs a Green New Deal to “get us out of this mess”. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal controversy

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Sioux City, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal echoed former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, which delivered a series of financial reforms, public work projects and programs between 1933 and 1939 to pull the US out from the Great Depression. 

Roosevelt’s New Deal faced opposition from both sides of politics in its inception, with the strongest opposition coming from the US business sector and Republican party. 

Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal has also attracted heavy debate, with President Donald Trump describing it as the “craziest thing”. 

Economist Ryan Bourne of conservative thinktank, the Cato Institute, also described it as reading like a “wish list for socializing the economy”.

However, according to a 2018 poll from Yale University, Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal has strong support among voters on both sides of politics. 

More than four-in-five voters said they supported the plan, with 57 per cent of conservative Republicans voicing support. 

Make your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, property and tech news.