By Wu Xiaoxiao
CANBERRA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- As Australia moves one more step closer to the next general election, due next year, the ruling Labor Party has begun to distance itself from its partner, the Greens, after the latter started attacking Labor.
The Greens suffered a backlash in statewide local council elections in New South Wales (NSW) last weekend. The Newspoll showed that the Greens' primary vote dropped to a three-and-a-half- year low of 8 percent, down from 11.8 percent in the 2010 election.
Although the Labor Party (ALP) got a little boost in the elections by and large compared with the 2011 state election, it suffered a big blow in parts of NSW, especially in western Sydney area.
Labor senators blamed poor results in this area on the Greens, claiming that their federal alliance had weakened its appeal and compromised policy. The rift between Labor and the Greens has been growing.
The Greens is being blamed for its stubborn obstruction of the government's asylum-seeker realpolitik and contentious local government policies, such as the trade boycott of Israel.
The issue of climate change which was mainly relevant to the failure of backing former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's carbon pollution reduction scheme followed by the dirty power station closure plan and the linkage with European Union's emission trading system also kept the two parties apart.
Labor has provided a series of policies to resolve critical issues and to meet the publics'inquiries recently. For instance, in terms of the constant arrival of asylum seekers, the government was determined to build offshore processing centers for refugees.
Labor also sought to both maintain the humanitarian aids for the asylum seekers and decrease the public's concern about the border security.
The first group of asylum seekers who arrived by boat was sent to an offshore processing center on Nauru on Sept. 12, local media reported.
However, the Greens restated their strong objection to offshore processing in Nauru. "It hasn't worked and it won't work," said Christine Milne, the Greens leader.
The Greens'extreme attitude was punched by Labor's heavyweight figures. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen blamed the Greens' poor performance at the elections on their refusal to be part of the political solution to asylum seeker crisis.
He said that the Greens' position on offshore processing had been "entirely naive and unworkable".
"I think their public policy approach has been, frankly, naive and I think the Australian people have seen the Greens'approach in a very prominent policy area laid bare over the last few weeks," Bowen said.
Meanwhile, Labor's sharpened values regarding National Disability Insurance Scheme, a dental health scheme, and school education reforms have also attributed to the simmering rift between the Coalition parties.
Several Labor parliament members (MPs) said the NSW results showed their gains to be made from challenging the Greens rather than acquiescing to their policy demands on climate change, industry, healthcare or education, one Australian newspaper said.
While the Greens'standpoint was much explicit on the left or at least anti-establishment, the party has not distinguished itself significantly from other political groups.
One analyst said that given the nature of the current government with the support of the minor party, the Greens looks more like a radical version of Labor for left-wing swing voters, which could make voters return to Labor."The public also defined the Greens' attitude as extreme, irresponsible and inflexible which urged the common voters to stand on other parties' sides," the analyst said.
Another key factor causing the decline of public support for the Greens was the retirement of its former leader Bob Brown, who has received a great deal of respect and admiration directly linked to the Greens' success. "At whatever level the people who voted for Green, actually voted for Bob Brown because of his strong values proposition,"said Cabinet minister Anthony Albanese, adding that the Greens current leader Milne is not admired as much as her predecessor.
However, the fall of the Greens has not benefited Labor. The ruling party also lost quite a few key wards in the local NSW council elections, especially losing control over their heartland to the Opposition Coalition.
This indicated a swing to the right in the elections and potentially has a trend to influence the whole Commonwealth.