The party has its eastern Australian origins in the Franklin River Dams campaign in Tasmania in the 1980s, and in Western Australia arising from concerns about nuclear disarmament. Its political landing spot now extends beyond environmental concerns to issues of the peace movement, grassroots democracy and social justice.
The party's history can be traced back to the formation of the United Tasmania Group (UTG), the first Green party in the world, which first ran candidates in the 1972 Tasmanian State election. Many people involved in that group went on to form the Tasmanian Greens, in 1992, with five State MPs.
Tasmanian Greens Senator Bob Brown and Western Australian Greens Senator Dee Margetts went on to form the first Australian Greens following the 1996 federal election. The party's parliamentary leader became Bob Brown, with the eight state and territory Greens parties becoming a national confederation.
In the 2007 federal election the Greens received more than one million votes in the Senate for the first time with a national swing of 1.38 to 9.04 percent, and a net gain of one senator to a total of five. Sarah Hanson-Young (SA) and Scott Ludlam (WA) were elected while Senator Kerry Nettle (NSW) lost her seat.
The Australian Greens, like all Australian political parties, are federally organised with separately registered state parties signing up to a national constitution, yet still retaining considerable policy-making and organisational autonomy from the centre. The national decision-making body of the Australian Greens is the National Council, consisting of delegates from each member body (a state or territory Greens party). The National Council arrives at decisions by consensus. There is no formal executive of the national party. However, there is an Australian Greens Coordinating Group (AGCG) comprised of national office bearers including the National Convenor, Secretary, Treasurer, and delegates from each State and Territory. There is also a Public Officer, a Party Agent and a Registered Officer.
The following portfolio responsibilities are divided between the five Greens Senators:Bob Brown, Senator for Tasmania, elected 1996
- Emergency Services
- Foreign Affairs
- Home Affairs
- Natural Heritage
- Treasury, Finance and Deregulation
Rachel Siewert, Senator for Western Australia, elected 2004
- Agriculture, Fisheries
- Community Services
- Employment & workplace relations
- Environment: Natural Resource Management
- Health & ageing
- Indigenous affairs
- Social inclusion
Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania, elected 2004
- Climate change
- Competition Policy & Small Business
- Education: schools, vocational, tertiary
- Innovation, industry, science & research
- Resources & Energy
- Transport & Regional Development
- World Heritage
Sarah Hanson-Young, Senator for South Australia, elected 2007
- Consumer affairs
- Education: early childhood, student services
- Human rights
- Immigration & Citizenship
- Sexuality & Gender Identity
- Status of women
- Veterans' affairs
- Water: Lower Murray & Rescue the Coorong
Scott Ludlam, Senator for Western Australia, elected 2007
- Attorney General
- Broadband, Communications & Digital Economy
- Human heritage
- Local Government
- Public transport
- Sustainable cities
This structure has replaced the previous system, under which specific spokespersons were appointed by the National Council.
A variety of working groups have been established by the National Council and these are directly accessible to all Greens members. Working groups perform an advisory function by developing policy, reviewing or developing the party structure, or by performing other tasks assigned by the National Council.
All policies originating from this structure are subject to ratification by the members of the Australian Greens.
On Saturday 12 November 2005 at the national conference in Hobart the Australian Greens abandoned their long-standing tradition of having no official leader and approved a process whereby a parliamentary leader could be elected by the Greens Parliamentary Party Room. On Monday 28 November 2005, Bob Brown - who had long been regarded as de facto leader by many inside the party, and most people outside the party - was elected unopposed as the Parliamentary Party Leader.
Political ideology Edit
The Australian Greens are part of the global "Green politics" movement. Former Tasmanian Greens member of the House of Assembly Lance Armstrong summed this position up as, "... neither left nor right but forward."
The Charter of the Australian Greens identifies the following as being the four key pillars underlining the party's policy:
In pursuit of these principles the Greens have adopted (often controversial) positions on issues such as:
- promotion of renewable energy
- opposition to uranium mining and nuclear power
- promotion of a sustainable approach to water resource management
- opposition to the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War
- support for refugees (including opposition to the Coalition's handling of the MV Tampa, SIEV X, and 'Children overboard' incidents)
- support for independence movements around the world, including East Timor, Tibet, and West Papua
- support for human rights in countries such as China, and Burma
- qualified support for voluntary euthanasia
- increased corporate taxation
- support for same-sex marriage
- opposition to a Goods & Services Tax (the Greens opposed the introduction of a GST during the 1998 Federal Election, but then, during the 2001 Federal Election, indicated that they would oppose the Australian Labor Party proposal to remove the GST from gas and electricity bills)
- regulated use of Cannabis for medical purposes
Despite the party's left-wing reputation, some of their better performances (as measured by percentage of primary votes) have been in seats that are traditionally Liberal such as Kooyong, Curtin, Wentworth, Higgins and Bennelong, as well as Labor seats such as, Adelaide, Brisbane, Grayndler, Melbourne Ports, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne which went maverick in 2007, the first time a division has done so for the Greens in a general election (Michael Organ won Cunningham for the Greens at a 2002 by-election, reverting to Labor in 2004). In contrast to this, many lower income safe Labor seats in deprived areas usually poll very small primary votes for the Greens. From 1997-2003 in Western Australia, the majority of Greens WA seats were held in rural and remote seats (Mining, Pastoral, South-West).
The Greens have differentiated themselves from the major parties in a number of high-profile policy positions. By taking a strong public stand on issues such international politics and the treatment of asylum seekers, for example, they claim to have shaken off their reputation as a single issue party concerned solely with environment: ecology embraces the human as well as the natural, and so human rights, fair processes and peace are integral to Green practice.
The Green movement in eastern Australia emerged out of environmental campaigns in the state of Tasmania. The precursor to the Tasmanian Greens (the earliest existent member of the federation of parties that is the Australian Greens), the United Tasmania Group, was founded in 1972 to oppose the construction of new dams to flood Lake Pedder. The campaign failed to prevent the flooding of Lake Pedder and the party failed to gain political representation. One of the party’s candidates was Bob Brown, then a doctor in Launceston.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, a public campaign to prevent the construction of the Franklin Dam in Tasmania saw environmentalist and activist Norm Sanders elected to the Tasmanian Parliament as an Australian Democrat. Brown, then director of the Wilderness Society, contested the election as an independent, but failed to win a seat.
In 1982 Norm Sanders resigned from Parliament, and Brown was elected to replace him on a countback
During her 1984 visit to Australia, West German Greens parliamentarian Petra Kelly urged that the various Greens groups in Australia develop a national identity. Partly as a result of this, fifty Greens activists gathered in Tasmania in December to organise a national conference.
The Green movement gained their first federal parliamentary representative when Senator Josephine Vallentine of Western Australia, who had been elected in 1984 for the Nuclear Disarmament Party and later sat as an independent, was part of the formation of and joined Greens (WA), a party formed within the state boundaries of Western Australia, and not affiliated to the Australian Greens at that time.
In 1992, representatives from around the nation gathered in North Sydney and agreed to form the Australian Greens, although the state Greens parties, particularly in Western Australia, retained their separate identities for a period. Brown resigned from the Tasmanian Parliament in 1993, and in 1996 he was elected as a Senator for Tasmania, the first elected as an Australian Greens candidate.
Initially the most successful Greens group during this period was Greens (WA), at that time still a separate organisation from the Australian Greens. Vallentine was succeeded by Christabel Chamarette in 1992, and she was joined by Dee Margetts in 1993. But Chamarette was defeated in 1996 and Margetts also lost her seat in the 1998 federal election, leaving Brown as the sole Australian Greens Senator.
2001 election Edit
In the 2001 federal election (the "Tampa election"), Brown was re-elected as a Senator for Tasmania, and the election of a second Greens Senator, Kerry Nettle of New South Wales. Brown took a strong stand against the government's policy on asylum seekers, leading to a rise in support for the Greens from disaffected Labor voters. This played an important role in defining the Greens as more than just a single-issue environmental party. In 2002 the Greens won a House of Representatives seat for the first time when Michael Organ won the Cunningham by-election.
2004 election Edit
In the 2004 federal election, the Greens' primary vote rose by 2.3%, to 7.2%. This won them two additional Senate seats (taking the total to four), but the success of the Howard Government in winning a majority in the Senate meant that the Greens' influence on legislation decreased. Michael Organ was defeated by Labor in Cunningham.
Additionally, in the 2004 election there was an intense media campaign from the socially conservative Family First Party, including a television advertisement labelling the Greens the "Extreme Greens". Competitive preferencing strategies prompted by the nature of Senate balloting (see Australian electoral system) saw the Australian Labor Party and the Democrats rank Family First higher than the Greens on their Senate tickets, resulting in the Greens losing preferences they would normally have received from the two parties. Consequently, although outpolling Family First by a ratio of more than four to one first-preference votes, Victorian Family First candidate Steve Fielding was elected on preferences over the Australian Greens' David Risstrom, an unintended consequence of these strategies. In Tasmania, Christine Milne only narrowly gained her Senate seat before a Family First candidate, despite nearly obtaining the full required quota of primary votes. It was only the high incidence of "below the line" voting in Tasmania that negated the effect of the preference swap deal between Labor and Family First.
The Australian Greens fielded candidates in every House of Representatives seat in Australia, and for all State and Territory Senate positions.
Dispute with the Herald SunEdit
On 31 August 2004, the Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun published a page three story by journalist Gerard McManus entitled "Greens back illegal drugs" in the lead up to the 2004 Australian election. In response to the article Brown lodged a complaint with the Australian Press Council. After the election, the Press Council upheld Brown's complaint:
"The Council views this article as irresponsible journalism... Given the sweeping and unqualified nature of the claims, the newspaper ought to have checked the veracity and currency of the policy claims. Prior to the publication of the article, the reporter rang Sen. Brown's office asking for the Greens' policies. He was informed 'that all current policies were available on the website'. There is evidence that, as well as any use made of the Party's website in writing the article, the reporter preferred other statements of Greens' policies, some erroneous and hostile to the Greens."
An appeal by the Herald Sun was dismissed and it was ordered to publish the Press Council’s adjudication. Brown said:
"This was no accident or mistake. The aim was to attack the Greens, not through the editorial column, but through the news pages. The outcome of the false concoction of the Greens policies was to lose our party tens of thousands of votes and, in my calculation, seats in parliament".
In April 2006, McManus was invited to speak at a Family First Party dinner.
The Australian Greens primary vote has generally continued to grow with their primary vote increasing by 4.1% in the 2006 election in South Australia, 1.2% in the 2006 election in Queensland, and 0.7% in the 2007 election in New South Wales.
The results for the 2006 election in Victoria, were mixed, with an improved vote for the Greens in the lower house, but a fall in their upper house vote.
2007 federal election Edit
The Greens increased their national vote by 1.38 percent to 9.04 percent at the 2007 federal election, with a net increase of one Senator to a total of five. Senators Bob Brown (Tas) and Kerry Nettle (NSW) were up for re-election, Brown was re-elected, but Nettle was unsuccessful.
Other Greens Senate candidates were Larissa Waters (Qld), Richard Di Natale (Vic), Scott Ludlam (WA), Sarah Hanson-Young (SA) and Kerrie Tucker (ACT). Ludlam and Hanson-Young were elected and took up office on August 26, 2008 when all senators elected on 24 November 2007 were be sworn in.
This was also the first general election for the Greens in which a lower house seat went "maverick". In the Division of Melbourne, the Greens polled 22.80 percent of the primary vote, overtaking the Liberals on preferences, finishing on a two party preferred figure of 45.29 against Labor.
An extensive campaign was undertaken in the ACT, in an attempt to end coalition control of the Senate immediately after the election, as territory Senators take their place at this time as opposed to their state counterparts on the next July 1. The ACT holds two seats with only 3-year terms, so a larger quota than normal is required for election. Despite a swing of 5.1 percent to the Greens on 21.5 percent, their best result in any state or territory, the party fell significantly short.
Interactions with other political groupsEdit
The Greens do not have formal links to environmental organisations commonly labelled by the media as "green groups" such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace, all of whom claim to be non-partisan. However, it is common for the media to report the activities of such groups and those of The Greens under the general category of "greens". During elections, there is sometimes competition between The Greens and one or more of these groups negotiating "greens preferences" with other parties. The Greens preference negotiation objectives are to attempt to get Greens Senators elected, and to get policy outcomes on issues like Tasmanian forests, though these objectives may be to a greater or lesser extent in conflict. The outcome is that Greens more often direct preferences to Labor than the Liberals, but it is claimed that this did not affect federal election outcomes in 2001 and 2004.
Labor Party and unionsEdit
Many supporters of the Labor Party and trade unions see the Greens' policies as destructive of employment in industries like mining and forestry. The forestry industry has been a particular target of environmental campaigns and Forestry unions have actively campaigned against the Greens. Left-wing trade unionists and some members of Labor's Socialist Left faction often identify more readily with the Greens, feeling sold out by Labor's Right faction and sympathizing with the Greens' social policies. Some unionists, such as NTEU members and AMWU member such as Bill Weller of South Australia [Reynell in 2006 Kingston in 2007] have even run for parliament both federally and State under the Greens ticket. One Labor MP, Kris Hanna, the member for Mitchell in South Australia, defected to the Australian Greens in 2003. Hanna left the Greens in February 2006 and ran again for Mitchell as an independent in the South Australian state election held on 18 March, 2006.
However, these Green sympathies are not universal within Labor's left; the similarities between the two groups often see them competing for the same voters, making the Greens' growing popularity a threat to Labor. In 2002, prominent Socialist Left member Lindsay Tanner wrote "The emergence of the Greens... is already hurting the ALP's ability to attract new members amongst young people." During the 2004 campaign Tanner's own seat of Melbourne in Victoria was thought to be under serious threat by the Greens; during that campaign, Tanner described Greens policies as "mad". In the end, Tanner held the seat comfortably on primary votes (51.78%, +4.35 swing), and was not even forced to preferences.
In the 2006 Victorian state election, there was increased bitterness between Labor and the Greens. Labor direct-mailed a letter from Peter Garrett to voters in its threatened inner-Melbourne seats claiming that the Greens were preferencing the Liberal Party, in spite of Greens preferences being either for Labor or being open. The effectiveness of this tactic was confirmed when on 22 March 2007, The Age's Paul Austin wrote "Labor's campaign manager, state secretary Stephen Newnham, reckons he knows why the Greens' support fell away in the last days of the campaign. He has told cabinet and caucus members it was because of Labor's loud assertions that the Greens had done a secret preferences deal with the Liberals."
In April 2007, The Age reported that the Victorian Greens had published a poem titled The Battle of Jeff's Shed written by Mike Puleston describing ALP officials and volunteers who scrutinised vote counting after the November state election as "the Labor Panzers and their hardened SS troops - SS stood for Sturm Scrutineers". The poem described the final vote count at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, which finished about 4am on December 14 and resulted in the election of three Greens MLCs. Labor directed preferences in the upper house to the DLP above the Greens, which resulted in their preferences indirectly electing Peter Kavanagh from DLP in Western Victoria region.
Conservative groups and partiesEdit
Relations between the Greens and conservative parties are almost uniformly poor. During the 2004 federal election the Australian Greens were branded as "environmental extremists" and even "fascists" by members of the Liberal-National Coalition Government. Christian Democratic leader Fred Nile and John Anderson (former leader of the National Party of Australia) described the Greens as 'watermelons', being "green on the outside and red on the inside". John Howard, former Australian Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, stated that "The Greens are not just about the environment. They have a whole lot of other very, very kooky policies in relation to things like drugs and all of that sort of stuff".
In a similar vein to the Family First television advertisements in 2004, Country Alliance also ran television advertisements in the lead up to the 2006 Victorian state election claiming that the Greens policies were "extreme".
Template:Unreferencedsection The Australian Greens have some political common ground with the Australian Democrats, particularly on environmental and social issues. For example the Atmosphere Protection Bill was introduced by Mike Elliott which was the first climate change legislation to be introduced in Australia, and probably the world, was introduced by the Australian Democrats into South Australia. However, the Democrats and Greens often differ on economic issues (such as the goods and services tax which was enacted by the Liberal Government with partial Democrat support), and on the Democrats' willingness to co-operate with the government of the day. Suggestions of a merger between the two parties have been made on several occasions since the early 1990s, but none have received significant joint support.
The Democrats have long seen and positioned themselves as charting a course between the two major parties in Australian politics, and thus 'keeping the bastards honest', whereas the Greens' long term objective is to elect members into the lower house and ultimately form government rather than being a balance between the two larger parties. This difference, and the fact that the Greens and Democrats appear to compete for votes from people looking for an alternative to the Liberal and Labor parties, has led to perceived rivalry between the two parties.
In this context, the decline of the Democrats' vote is regarded by some as a contributing factor to the increased vote (both primary and preferred) for the Greens. However, the decline in Democrat's vote has been greater than increases in Greens votes, which indicates that much of the Democrats' former vote has gone to the major parties. The party's original support base was disaffected middle-class Liberal voters from the latter's socially liberal wing.
State and territory politicsEdit
The various Australian states and territories have different electoral systems, some of which allow the Greens to gain representation. In New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, the Greens hold seats in the Legislative Councils (upper houses), which are elected by proportional representation. The Greens also have a seat in the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly. In Queensland and the Northern Territory, their unicameral parliaments have made it difficult for the Greens to gain representation.
The Greens' most important area of state political activity has been in Tasmania, which is the only state where the lower house of the state parliament is elected by proportional representation. In Tasmania, the Greens have been represented in the House of Assembly from 1983, initially as Green Independents, and from the early 1990s as an established party. At the 1989 state election, the Liberal Party won 17 seats to Labor's 13 and the Greens' 5. The Greens agreed to support a minority Labor government in exchange for various policy commitments. In 1992 the agreement broke down over the issue of employment in the forestry industry, and the premier, Michael Field, called an early state election which the Liberals won. Later, Labor and the Liberals combined to reduce the size of the Assembly from 35 to 25, thus raising the quota for election. At the 1998 election the Greens won only one seat, despite their vote only falling slightly, mainly due to the new electoral system. They recovered in the 2002 election when they won four seats. All four seats were retained in the 2006 election.
- Senator Bob Brown (Tas), 1996-Present
- Senator Christine Milne (Tas), 2005-Present (elected in 2004)
- Senator Rachel Siewert (WA), 2005-Present (elected in 2004)
- Senator Scott Ludlam (WA), 2008-Present (elected in 2007)
- Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (SA), 2008-Present (elected in 2007)
- Senator Kerry Nettle (NSW), 2002-08 (elected in 2001, defeated in 2007)
- Senator Jo Vallentine, 1990-92, Greens WA (originally elected in 1984 as Nuclear Disarmament Party)
- Senator Christabel Chamarette, 1992-96, Greens WA
- Senator Dee Margetts, 1993-99, Greens WA (defeated in 1998)
- Michael Organ MHR (NSW), 2002-04
Senators Vallentine, Chamarette and Margetts were all elected as Greens (WA) senators and served their terms before the Greens WA affiliated to the Australian Greens, meaning that they were not considered to be Australian Greens senators at the time.
- Ian Cohen, 1995-Present
- Lee Rhiannon, 1999-Present
- Sylvia Hale, 2003-Present
- John Kaye, 2007-Present
- Ronan Lee, 2008-Present
- Giz Watson, 1997-Present
- Paul Llewellyn, 2005-Present
- Jim Scott, 1993-2005
- Christine Sharp, 1997-2005
- Dee Margetts, 2001-05
- Robin Chapple, 2001-05
- Lynn MacLaren, 2005
- Cassy O'Connor, 2008-Present
- Nick McKim, 2002-Present
- Kim Booth, 2002-Present
- Tim Morris, 2002-Present
- Bob Brown, 1983-93
- Gerry Bates, 1986-95
- Lance Armstrong, 1989-96
- Christine Milne, 1989-98
- Di Hollister, 1989-98
- Peg Putt, 1993-2008
- Mike Foley, 1995-98
Other notable members Edit
- Peter Singer
- Drew Hutton
- Adam Bandt
- Jean Jenkins, former Democrats Senator for Western Australia
- Andrew Wilkie
See also Edit
- Australian Greens official website
- Senator Bob Brown's site
- Senator Sarah Hanson-Young's site
- Senator Scott Ludlam's site
- Senator Christine Milne's site
- Senator Rachel Siewert's site
- Australian Greens' YouTube Channel
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