The Australian Greens, commonly known as The Greens, are a centre-left, green political party in Australia. As of the 2019 federal election, the Greens are currently the third largest political party in Australia by vote. The current leader of the party is Richard Di Natale, and the party's co-deputy leaders are Adam Bandt and Larissa Waters. The party was formed in 1992 and is a confederation of eight state and territorial parties. The party cites four core values: ecological sustainability, social justice, grassroots democracy and peace and non-violence.
|Leader||Richard Di Natale|
|Co-deputy leaders||Adam Bandt|
|Headquarters||23/85 Northbourne Ave|
Turner ACT 2612
|Youth wing||Young Greens|
|Regional affiliation||Asia-Pacific Greens|
|International affiliation||Global Greens|
|Slogan||A Future for All of Us|
|House of Representatives|
1 / 151
9 / 76
|State and territorial lower house members|
11 / 455
|State and territorial upper house members|
12 / 155
Party constituencies can be traced to various origins – notably the early environmental movement in Australia and the formation of the United Tasmania Group (UTG), one of the first green parties in the world, but also the nuclear disarmament movement in Western Australia and sections of the industrial left in New South Wales. Co-ordination between environmentalist groups occurred in the 1980s with various significant protests. Key people involved in these campaigns included Bob Brown and Christine Milne who went on to contest and win seats in the Tasmanian Parliament and eventually form the Tasmanian Greens; both Brown and Milne subsequently became leaders of the federal party.
The Australian Greens' policies cover a wide range of issues. Most notably, the party favours environmentalism, including expansion of recycling facilities; phasing out single-use plastics; conservation efforts; better water management; and addressing species extinction, habitat loss and deforestation in Australia. The Greens strongly support efforts to address climate change based on scientific evidence, by transitioning away from the burning of fossil fuels to renewable energy production in the next decade, as well as reintroducing a carbon price. The party supports lowering household electricity prices through the creation of a publicly-owned renewable energy provider, and building thousands of new jobs in renewable energy generation. On economic issues, the Greens oppose tax cuts that solely benefit the top bracket of income earners and lead to socioeconomic inequality and believe that all essential services need to be adequately funded to suit community needs; and argue for the recreation of a publicly-owned bank. The Greens have campaigned on free undergraduate university and TAFE, paid for by ending tax avoidance and fossil fuel subsidies, as well as restoring funding to the education sectors. The party is in favour of extending Medicare coverage to dental and mental health care, and supports reproductive health rights and voluntary euthanasia. The Greens are often known for their outspoken advocacy on numerous social issues, such as the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the right to seek asylum and gender equality. The party supports drug law reform, including the legalisation of cannabis; treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue; and community pill-testing. The party supports animal welfare policies and stringent gun control legislation. The Greens also advocate for policies that they believe will strengthen Australian democracy and "clean up politics", including capping political donations and instituting a federal anti-corruption watchdog.
Following the 2016 federal election, the Australian Greens had nine senators and one member in the lower house, 23 elected representatives across state and territory parliaments, more than 100 local councillors, and over 15,000 party members (as of 2016). All Senate and House of Representatives seats were retained at the 2019 election.
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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 House of Assembly 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 the THA, and Brown was elected to replace him in 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, 50 Greens activists gathered in Tasmania in December to organise a national conference.
The title "The Greens" had been first registered in Sydney in the 1980s by what The Monthly Magazine described as "a band of inner-city radicals committed to resident action, nuclear disarmament and urban environmental causes, such as stopping expressways and preserving parklands". The group formed as the Sydney Greens and evolved into the Green Alliance, with the stated aim of not forming a "traditional hierarchy party". According to party co-ordinator Hall Greenland, when amalgamation with Bob Brown's Tasmanian movement was first mooted, Brown was hesitant owing to what he perceived as the "anarchic leftism" of the Sydney movement. The Greens NSW and The Greens (WA) were also wary of amalgamation owing to local autonomy concerns and a 1986 attempt by Brown to form a national party failed. The movement for a national party continued however. In an effort to reduce the influence of the Democratic Socialist Party (formerly Socialist Workers Party, now Socialist Alliance) in The Greens NSW, Brown successfully moved for a ban on dual party membership by Greens in 1991. Following formation of the national party in 1992, regional emphasis variations remained within the Greens, with members of the "industrial left" remaining a presence in the New South Wales branch.
The Green movement gained its first federal parliamentary representative when Senator Jo 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 The Greens (WA), a party formed in 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 The 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 the 1996 federal election. Margetts opposed the industrial relations reform agenda of the Howard Government. Following the 'Cavalcade to Canberra' protest of 19 August 1996, in which 2000 breakaway civilians rioted in and around Parliament House, Margetts told the Senate that "The Greens (WA) do not associate ourselves with the violent action" and that while "there are obviously some in the Greens movement who have differing opinions about that" she personally did not think there was "any justification for the use of violence to the extent that we saw". Margetts lost her seat in the 1998 federal election, leaving Brown as the sole Australian Greens senator.
Leadership of Bob Brown
The national party initially resisted appointing a party leader, however Bob Brown was later selected. The New South Wales Greens remained ideologically opposed to appointing a leader and continue not to appoint such a position. The WA Greens had lost office in the Senate by 1998, leaving Bob Brown as the sole representative of the party. Thereafter, the national vote was set to increase consecutively at elections up until 2010.
2001 federal election onward
In the 2001 federal election, Brown was re-elected as a senator for Tasmania, and a second Greens senator, Kerry Nettle, was elected in New South Wales. The Greens opposed the Howard Government's Pacific Solution of offshore processing for asylum seekers, and opposed the bipartisan offers of support to the US alliance and Afghanistan War by the government and Beazley Opposition in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks in 2001, describing the Afghanistan commitment as "warmongering". This contributed to increased support for the Greens by disaffected Labor Party voters and helped identify the Greens as more than just a single-issue environmental party. On 19 October 2002 the Greens won a House of Representatives seat for the first time when Michael Organ won the Cunningham by-election.
In the lead-up to the Iraq War, in September 2002, Bob Brown said that the Greens would oppose military action in Iraq regardless of the position of the United Nations Security Council and said that any conflict would be "a vengeance for the S11 attack that's involved here as well as the American corporations wanting to get their hands on the Iraqi oil" and that if Saddam Hussein "does have weapons of mass destruction, the attack might be the thing that gets him to use them", so it would be better to "resolv[e] the Palestinian crisis, which could lead—open up a real avenue to peace in the Middle East, and neutralise Saddam Hussein by doing it".
2004 federal election onward
In the 2004 federal election, the Greens' primary vote rose by 2.3% to 7.2%. This won them two additional Senate seats, taken by Christine Milne in Tasmania and Rachel Siewert in Western Australia, bringing the total to four. However, 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 the Labor Party candidate 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) lead to the Australian Labor Party and the Democrats ranking Family First higher than the Greens on their Senate tickets, and 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 obtaining almost 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. The Greens (WA) were able to win Legislative Council seats in rural and remote-area seats (Mining and Pastoral, Agricultural and South West provinces).
In 2005, the Greens' Lee Rhiannon lobbied the Vatican to reject Australian Cardinal George Pell as a candidate for the Papacy on the basis of his support for conservative Catholic moral doctrine. In 2007, Rhiannon referred remarks made by Pell opposing embryonic stem cell research to the New South Wales parliamentary privileges committee for allegedly being in "contempt of parliament". Pell was cleared of the charge and described the move as a "clumsy attempt to curb religious freedom and freedom of speech".
The results for the 2006 Victoria election were mixed, with an improved vote for the Greens in the lower house, but a fall in their upper-house vote.
Against this upward trend was a swing of 1.5% away from the Greens in the 2006 Tasmania state election.
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 federal 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. An appeal by the Herald Sun was dismissed and it was ordered to publish the Press Council's adjudication.
2007 federal election onward
As in previous years, the Greens' vote was strongest in inner-city seats, including Melbourne (22.7% of primary votes), Sydney (20.7%), Grayndler (18.7%), Denison (18.6%) and Batman (17.2%). Strong votes were also recorded in Liberal-held city based seats such as Higgins (10.8%), Kooyong (11.8%) Curtin (13.4%) and Wentworth (15.0%). The primary vote for the Greens in suburban and regional areas was generally smaller.
The Greens directly contributed to Howard's defeat in his own electorate, the Sydney-area seat of Bennelong. Greens candidate Lindsay Peters received 5.5% of the primary vote. He was eliminated after the 14th count, and more than three-fourths of his preferences went to Labor challenger Maxine McKew. This margin was enough to make McKew only the second person to unseat a sitting prime minister.
The Greens increased their national vote by 1.38 points to 9.04% 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, becoming the only Australian Greens senator to lose their seat. Elected at the 2001 federal election on a primary vote of 4.36% in New South Wales with One Nation and micro-party preference flows, she failed to gain re-election in 2007 due to preferences, despite an increase in the New South Wales Green primary vote to 8.43%.
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 26 August 2008 when all senators elected on 24 November 2007 were 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% 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 1 July. The ACT elects two seats with terms (in parallel with those of the House of Representatives), so a larger quota than normal is required for election. Despite a swing of 5.1 points to the Greens, on 21.5%, their best result in any state or territory, the party fell significantly short of the required quota.
At the 2008 Northern Territory election, the Greens ran in six of the 25 seats in the unicameral parliament, averaging 16% of the vote but won no seats. At the 2008 Western Australian election, the Greens won 11–12 percent of the statewide vote in both the lower and upper houses, with four of 36 seats in the latter, an increase of two.
In the 2008 Australian Capital Territory election, conducted under the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation, the Greens doubled their vote to around 15%, going from one to four seats in the 17-member unicameral parliament, giving them the balance of power. After almost two weeks of deliberations, the Greens chose to allow Labor to form a minority government. The Greens held the post of Speaker in the ACT Legislative Assembly, the first for a Green party in Australia.
In May 2009, the Greens won their second-ever single-member electorate, with Adele Carles winning the Fremantle by-election for the Western Australian Legislative Assembly. The seat had been held by the Labor Party since 1924. It was the first time the Greens had outpolled the Labor Party on the primary vote in any Labor-held seat.
In December 2009, the Greens received over 30 percent of the primary vote in the federal Higgins by-election in Victoria, in the absence of a Labor candidate. It is the highest primary vote recorded by the Greens in a Liberal-held lower-house seat.
At the 2010 Tasmanian election, the Greens won 21.6 percent of the primary vote amongst the five multi-member electorates, resulting in the Greens winning five of twenty-five seats in the lower house and holding the balance of power. With Labor and the Liberals winning ten seats each, the Greens backed a Labor minority government. Tasmanian Greens Leader Nick McKim was appointed to the new Labor-Green cabinet, making him the first Green Minister in Australia.
In the lead-up to the 2010 Australian federal election, the Australian Christian Lobby and the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney criticised Greens policies as "anti-Christian". In an 8 August opinion article for Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Cardinal Archbishop George Pell wrote that the Greens were hostile to the family, opposed to religious schools, had pressured against Catholic management of Calvary Hospital in Canberra and said the party contained Stalinists and a wing who were "watermelons" -"green on the outside, red on the inside" whose policies were "impractical and expensive, which will not help the poor". In response to the article, Senator Bob Brown said Pell was "bearing false witness" and that the Greens were in fact, "much closer to mainstream Christian thinking than Cardinal Pell". Jesuit human rights lawyer Fr. Frank Brennan responded in an essay by saying that while some Greens might be anti-Christian, others like Lin Hatfield Dodds "have given distinguished public service in their churches for decades." On some policy issues, wrote Brennan, "the Greens have a more Christian message than the major parties", while on issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage and funding for church schools, the party would never be able to "carry the day given that policy changes in these areas will occur only if they are supported by a majority from both major political parties".
In the lead up to the 2010 election, Bob Brown opposed the senate pre-selection of high-profile New South Wales Green Lee Rhiannon in favour of environmentalist Cate Faehrmann, saying that the Greens needed "new blood". Rhiannon, a socialist who had also campaigned on gun control, foreign aid, political donations and urban renewal said that there were differing visions for the future of the Greens – one of increased centralisation of party decision making versus a vision she supported of empowering membership. Rhiannon was confirmed as the candidate.
2010 federal election onward
Federal Senate election results
At the 2010 federal election the Greens received a four percent swing to finish with 13 percent of the vote (more than 1.6 million votes) in the Senate, a first for any Australian minor party. The Senate vote throughout the states was between 10 and 20 percent. The Greens won a seat in each of the six states at the election, again a first for any Australian minor party, bringing the party to a total of nine senators from July 2011, holding the balance of power in the Senate. The new senators were Lee Rhiannon in New South Wales, Richard Di Natale in Victoria, Larissa Waters in Queensland, Rachel Siewert in Western Australia, Penny Wright in South Australia and Christine Milne in Tasmania. Incumbents Scott Ludlam in Western Australia, Sarah Hanson-Young in South Australia and Bob Brown in Tasmania were not due for re-election. The Greens also won their first House of Representatives seat at a general election, the seat of Melbourne with candidate Adam Bandt, who was a crossbencher in the first hung parliament since the 1940 federal election. Almost two weeks after the election, Bandt and the Greens agreed to support a Gillard Labor minority government on confidence and supply votes. Labor was returned to government with the additional support of three independent crossbenchers.
The election resulted in a hung parliament. Six crossbench MPs shared the balance of power. The Greens signed a formal agreement with the Australian Labor Party involving consultation in relation to policy and support in the House of Representatives in relation to confidence and supply and three of the independents declared their support for Labor on confidence and supply, allowing Gillard and Labor to remain in power with a 76–74 minority government.
In the 2010 Victorian election, the Liberal party directed voters to preference the ALP ahead of the Greens. The Greens' primary vote increased slightly overall from 10.04% to 10.6% of the overall vote, but the party did not win any lower-house seats. Federal Greens leader Bob Brown said of the result that it was positive but that: "The Liberals' preferencing to Labor means that instead of there being three Greens in the new parliament there won't be".
On 24 February 2011, in a joint press conference of the "Climate Change Committee" – comprising the Government, Greens and two independent MPs – Prime Minister Gillard announced a plan to legislate for the introduction of a fixed price to be imposed on "carbon pollution" from 1 July 2012 The carbon price would be placed for three to five years before a full emissions trading scheme is implemented, under a blueprint agreed by a multi-party parliamentary committee. Key issues remained to be negotiated between the Government and the cross-benches, including compensation arrangements for households and businesses, the carbon price level, the emissions reduction target and whether or not to include fuel in the price.
The Greens support protecting the welfare of the people of Libya and so supported the United States-led military intervention in Libya. The view of Deputy leader Christine Milne, that the Greens "want to make sure that [they] protect civilians wherever [they] can... to ensur[e] that we will save lives...", is commensurate with this position.
At the Greens NSW State Conference, which was held prior to the New South Wales state election in 2011, a resolution was adopted in support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. The move, proposed by Sylvia Hale and backed by Lee Rhiannon, had already been rejected by Leader Bob Brown. Soon after, however, their motion was backed by the Marrickville Council – resulting in a "boycott [against] all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges". Local Labor MP Anthony Albanese called the move "misguided", sparking media interest and inciting anger among many Jewish Australians. The move also caused a rift within the Greens. Following the 2010 election, Bob Brown said that he had conveyed his disapproval of this policy to Rhiannon. Brown said that the policy was "a mistake" made by the NSW branch whereas Rhiannon said it had not been prosecuted hard enough.
Amidst ongoing debate over taxation, industry policy and climate change, Leader Bob Brown began to refer to sections within the Australian media that expressed criticism of Greens' policies or candidates as the "hate media", singling out the Murdoch Press in particular.
Outlining his industry and climate policies on ABC's 7:30 Program in May 2011, Bob Brown voiced support for a reduction in subsidies to fossil fuel industries, the implementation of a price on carbon; a higher level of profit tax on the mining industry and a phasing out of Australia's coal export industry, saying: "The world is going to do that because it is causing massive economic damage down the line through the impact of climate change."
Leadership of Christine Milne
On 13 April 2012, Bob Brown announced that he was resigning as federal parliamentary leader of the Australian Greens and that he would leave the Senate in June. Christine Milne was elected unanimously as the new leader by the party. MP Adam Bandt was elected deputy leader.
The "ease of the Greens leadership transition" was widely praised, with one commentator noting "She has survived the transition in leadership with grace and steadfastness of vision" , and Milne set about expanding the party's reach, looking first to regional Australia.
Milne took the leadership at a time when the Greens nationally had passed a peak. In the 18 months between the high water mark of the 2010 Federal Election and Brown's retirement, polls nationally were trending downwards. This was reflected in a number of setbacks for state and local Greens parties, which some commentators blamed on Brown's absence. The outcome of 20 October 2012 election in the ACT resulted in a reduction of Greens Legislative Assembly members, from four to one. The Western Australian election was held in March 2013. For the Legislative Assembly, the total primary vote for the Greens fell by 3.52% to 8.40%. In the Legislative Council the Greens' representation was reduced from four to two members.
Even some impressive results which failed to deliver wins, such as the 2012 Melbourne state by-election, where the Greens received the highest number of first preference votes but did not win the seat as some had expected, were used to attack Milne.
In a 19 February address to the National Press Club in Canberra, Christine Milne announced that the Federal Greens alliance with the Labor Party was "effectively over". In particular, Milne cited a failure by the Gillard Government to redraft the mining tax it had concluded prior to the 2010 Election as evidence that the government had "walked away" from its agreement with the Greens. Nevertheless, Milne promised to continue to guarantee confidence and supply to the Labor Government on the floor of Parliament, so as not to "advance the interests" of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Milne was aware that the period in balance of power would be electorally costly for the party, telling members that "You earn political capital in opposition and you spend it in power." With that in mind, and following the disappointing state results, Milne and the Australian Greens set as their goal for the 2013 election a clear target of retaining their existing seats and perhaps win one more Senate seat in Victoria, rather than to increase the vote nationally. Despite a reduction in the vote, maintaining and slightly increasing parliamentary representation is exactly what Milne achieved.
Christine Milne resigned as leader of the Australian Greens on 6 May 2015. Milne was replaced by Victorian senator Richard Di Natale, with Adam Bandt being replaced as deputy leader by Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam at the same time.
Leadership of Richard Di Natale
The party voted in support for legislation that saw assets testing for age pensions reduced from $1M down to $800,000. The Greens also negotiated with the government and secured a tax disclosure threshold for big businesses earning more than $200M a year.
In November 2016 the Greens voted with the Turnbull government to levy a 15% tax on foreign backpackers on working holiday visas.
2013 federal election onward
Top 10 primary votes in 2013
At the 2013 federal election the House of Representatives (lower house) primary vote was 8.7 percent (−3.1) with the Senate (upper house) primary vote at 8.7 percent (−4.5). Despite that, as targeted, the Greens representation in the parliament increased. Adam Bandt retained his Melbourne seat with a primary vote of 42.6 percent (+7.0) and a two-candidate preferred vote of 55.3 percent (−0.6). The Greens won four Senate positions, increasing their Senate representation from nine to ten Senators to take effect from 1 July 2014, to a total of eleven Green members in the Parliament of Australia.
Writing in the Australian Financial Review, Vincent Mahon, a former campaign manager for the Greens, said that while the Greens were able to present positive achievements to the electors relating to education, health, the environment and the promotion of clean energy, the party was unable to attract disenchanted Labor voters. He noted that Green policies relating to carbon pricing and refugees were unpopular with many voters. Christine Milne said that the Greens support of the Labor minority government was a factor in the Greens' lower vote.
Following the federal election, South Australian Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, who had lost a ballot against Senator Milne for Deputy Leadership and lost again to Adam Bandt, publicly criticised Senator Milne.
In September 2013, it was reported that six senior Greens' staffers had resigned including Chief of Staff, Ben Oquist, who claimed there were, "fundamental differences of opinion on strategy". There have been suggestions that Oquist was behind the unsuccessful attempt to create leadership tensions because he feared moves to "freeze him out".
At the 2014 Western Australian Senate election the Greens won in excess of a quota with the primary vote increasing from 9.5 to 15.6 percent, re-electing Scott Ludlam. Ludlam threw his weight behind Milne's leadership, telling ABC radio on being asked if he had leadership ambitions that "That's very flattering, but Christine Milne is doing a great job".
2016 federal election onward
Top 10 primary votes in 2016
At the 2016 federal election the House of Representatives (lower house) primary vote increased to 10.23 percent (+1.58) but decreased in the Senate (upper house), with primary vote at 8.65 percent (−0.58). Adam Bandt was elected to a third term in his Melbourne seat with a primary vote of 43.75 percent (+1.13) and a two-candidate preferred vote of 68.48 percent (+13.21). Despite a campaign focus on winning additional seats in the lower house, The Greens failed to win any lower house contests. Their closest seats were Batman, where the Greens won the most first preference votes and turned the once safe Labor seat into a marginal Labor vs Green seat, and Melbourne Ports, where the Greens were fewer than 1000 votes off overtaking Labor, which would have likely (but not certainly) resulted in a Greens victory. Wills, Higgins, Grayndler and Division of Warringah saw Greens make the two-candidate-preferred result. Deposits were retained in 141 of the 150 seats.
The Greens also lost one Senate position in South Australia, decreasing their Senate representation from ten to nine Senators, to a total of ten Green members in the Parliament of Australia. The result was seen as disappointing, and caused internal divisions to flare up, with former Federal Leader Bob Brown calling upon Senator Lee Rhiannon to resign, citing the "need for renewal".
Tensions within the party reached a flashpoint in late 2016 when a group of Greens members announced their intention to form a faction within the party called "Left Renewal". Their stated aim is to "end capitalism" and stop "global imperialism". The faction's existence is supported by Senator Lee Rhiannon and State MP David Shoebridge, however party leader Richard Di Natale has publicly criticised the grouping saying its manifesto was "ridiculous" and its members should consider leaving the Greens. Former leader Bob Brown also attacked the group calling it "a joke".
In June 2017 Lee Rhiannon was suspended from the Federal Greens party room following an internal dispute over her opposition to the Federal Greens' support for the Turnbull government education funding changes. The Greens New South Wales subsequently issued a statement reiterating its support for Senator Rhiannon and support for public education.
On 14 July 2017, Ludlam resigned from the Senate after he found that he had dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship. The next week on 18 July 2017, his former co-deputy, and Queensland Senator, Larissa Waters resigned, after discovering that she held dual citizenship with Canada, and that had she been born a week later that would not have been the case. Both were ineligible to be elected to Parliament under section 44 of the Australian Constitution. Subsequently, Adam Bandt and Rachel Siewert were named as temporary co-deputy leaders until the arrival of Ludlam and Waters' replacements in Canberra.
In the lead up to the preselection for the Greens NSW Senate position in 2017, it was reported that Senator Rhiannon had breached party rules by allowing supporters to visit her in her Sydney electorate office. Rhiannon lost her first position on the NSW Senate ticket, with this position instead going to NSW Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi. Rhiannon announced on May 25, 2019 that she would be resigning from the party in mid-August, to allow Faruqi to fill her vacancy. Faruqi had a 25-year career working as a professional engineer and academic, and had previously served in the New South Wales Legislative Council from 2013 to 2018, before assuming her new position in the Federal Parliament. Faruqi became the first female Muslim Senator in Australian history.
2019 federal election onward
Leading up to the 2019 election, Di Natale stated that, "Climate change matters more than anything else at this election because it is, quite literally, an existential threat to humanity. This has got to be a climate change election because we're running out of time."
Key pledges and policy proposals of the party for the 2019 election included:
- "Renewable economy and climate change": transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2030; creating 180,000 jobs in renewable energy; creating a publicly-owned renewable energy provider and reducing power bills; providing support for coal workers; supporting the "electric vehicle revolution"; public transport investment; and ending political donations from mining companies
- "Clean up politics": political donation reform; banning MPs from entering lobbying jobs after leaving Parliament; establishing a federal anti-corruption commission; protecting the rights of citizens; restoring funding to the ABC and SBS
- "World-class health, education and social services": introducing dental and mental health into Medicare; reducing costs of essential services such as disability services, childcare, mental health and aged care services; increasing Newstart and Youth Allowance; providing free university and TAFE for the first three years; expanding the aged care workforce; drug law reform
- "Public ownership, not privatisation": creating a not-for-profit energy retailer; capping power prices and buying back essential energy infrastructure; creating a not-for-proft bank; breaking up the big banks and capping executive pay; opposing the selling off of the NBN
- "Protect our environment": reforming environmental laws; addressing the waste crisis and expanding recycling facilities; ending deforestation; stopping oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight; saving the Great Barrier Reef; banning new coal seam gas and fracking projects; addressing animal cruelty
- "A home for all": building 500,000 public and community homes; giving renters legal rights; providing $30 million for tenancy advocacy services; supporting first-home buyers; funding for temporary accommodation services to address homelessness
- "Jobs and training for the future": increasing wages; rewriting workplace laws; implementing a Future of Work Commission; science, research and innovation investment; closing the gender wage gap; growing the "creative economy"; extensive plans to support small businesses
- "A fairer, more equal community": establishing a path for First Nations sovereignty and treaties and "closing the gap"; closing offshore detention; supporting diversity and women in the workplace; addressing systemic racism and hate speech; funding the NDIS; ending sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts ('conversion therapy'); creating a charter of rights; and supporting demilitarisation
- "Paying for our plans": introducing a super profits tax on oil, gas and mining giants; ending billions of dollars of government handouts to large corporations; making big corporations pay for pollution; closing tax avoidance of multinationals; reversing tax cuts to shareholders and the "super wealthy"
Top 10 primary votes in 2019
At the 2019 federal election, the Australian Greens received a primary vote of 10.7% in the House of Representatives, with a federal swing of +0.2%. The party's highest vote was captured in the Australian Capital Territory (17.1%), followed by Victoria (12.1%), Western Australia (11.9%), Queensland (10.5%), Northern Territory (10.5%), Tasmania (10.3%), South Australia (9.8%) and New South Wales (9.0%).
On a state-by-state basis in the House of Representatives, the party received favourable swings in South Australia (+3.4%), the Australian Capital Territory (+1.8%), Queensland (+1.5%) and the Northern Territory (+1.1%) but suffered swings in Victoria (-1.2%), Western Australia (-0.4%), New South Wales (-0.2%) and Tasmania (-0.1%).
The party retained the federal electorate of Melbourne with Adam Bandt sitting at a 71.8% two-party preferred vote. The Greens also entered the two-party preferred vote in the electorates of Kooyong (44.3% vs. LIB), Wills (41.8% vs. LAB), Cooper (35.4% vs. LAB) and Grayndler (33.7% vs. LAB).
In the Senate, the Greens received favourable swings in South Australia (+5.03%), Queensland (+3.12%), the Australian Capital Territory (+1.61%), Western Australia (+1.48%), Tasmania (+1.41%) and New South Wales (+1.32%). Small swings against the Greens in the Senate were observed in only Victoria (-0.25%) and the Northern Territory (-0.54%). All 6 Greens Senators up for re-election retained their seats, including Senators Mehreen Faruqi, Janet Rice, Larissa Waters, Sarah Hanson-Young, Jordon Steele-John and Nick McKim.
Three key seats were targeted by the Greens in Victoria, including Kooyong, Higgins and Macnamara. Prominent barrister Julian Burnside, who stood for Kooyong, came close to unseating treasurer and deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg, falling short by 5.7% in the two-party preferred vote. Greens candidate Jason Ball, for the electorate of Higgins, failed to enter the two-party preferred vote, despite optimism within the Greens and a diminishing Liberal vote. In Macnamara (formerly Melbourne Ports), a three-way contest emerged between the Liberals, Labor and Greens. Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May had come within a few hundred votes in 2016 of taking the seat, however, redistributions in the electorate for the 2019 election were unfavourable for the Greens' vote, and the party's final vote sat at 24.2%.
Post-election, Richard Di Natale was re-endorsed as the Party's leader, and Adam Bandt and Larissa Waters resumed their positions as the party's deputy positions. Rachel Siewert took on the role of party whip and Janet Rice became the party room chair.
The Greens saw an increase in party membership by approximately 10% following the 2019 election, adding more than 1700 new members. Di Natale attributed this rise in membership as "clearly a response to the election", continuing that, "For a lot of people the way to respond to what was for many of them a devastating result, was to actually take some action... This election was described as a 'climate election'. Every election from this point on will be a climate election. We're breaking record, on record, with extreme weather, drought. And I think the community's only going to become increasingly concerned about the lack of [climate] action." Following the dramatic increase in votes for the German Greens Party - where their vote increased from 9% in the 2017 German election to 20.5% in the 2019 European elections - Di Natale has argued that, "there's a real possibility of the [Australian] Greens seeing that big increase - a similar increase to the increase we saw in Germany.
The Australian Greens are part of the global "green politics" movement. The charter of the Australian Greens identifies the following as the four pillars of the party's policy: "social justice", "sustainability", "grassroots democracy" and "peace and non-violence". Major policy initiatives of recent years have also included taxation reform, cost of living, review of the American alliance, and implementation of harm minimisation in relation to drug use.
Animals and agriculture
The Greens oppose the importation of animals for zoos in Australia, "except where the importation will assist the overall conservation of the species". They also seek to ban and phase out respectively the display of wild or domesticated animals in circuses in Australia.
The Greens are in favour of phasing out live animal exports, with Greens parliamentary leader Richard Di Natale instead favouring investment in the chilled meat industry:
“Often what we’re told is that if you phase out the live animal export trade then we’re going to lose a whole lot of jobs. But what’s not being told is that if we started to invest in a frozen and chilled meat trade through northern Australia, then we could turn this issue into one where we value-add; one where we create lots of jobs for Australians."
The Greens have campaigned on ending greyhound racing and banning whale slaughter. The party would also place a ban on animal-tested cosmetics and ingredients and end caged egg production and sow stalls, instead favouring ethical farming practices.
The party acknowledges that methane emissions from livestock need to be reduced as these emissions are a major source of global warming and climate change. This would be achieved by supporting new and ongoing research and through the avenues of animal health and nutrition, selection and genetics.
Support for farmers experiencing the effects of climate change through droughts, and soil and water degradation has been expressed by the Greens. Another aim of the party is to ensure fair prices for farmers, against growing international competition, and to "develop and implement an effective framework — including financial incentives, pricing mechanisms, extension services and regulation — to ensure that farmers and land managers are rewarded for the repair and maintenance of ecosystem services."
Climate emergency declaration
The Greens acknowledge that climate change is a threat to ecological habitats, biodiversity, human health and infrastructure. Greens MP Adam Bandt, the party's climate and energy spokesperson, welcomed the UK Parliament's declaration of a "climate emergency" and intends to introduce a similar declaration in the Australian Parliament. Bandt stated, "The UK Parliament has recognised the world is facing an existential climate crisis and that we all need to act urgently. I will seek to move a similar motion to the UK and have a state of climate emergency declared here [too]... It's time to act as if our house is on fire, because it is... The Greens are the only party that supports emergency action."
In October 2019, former Liberal Party leader Dr John Hewson supported Adam Bandt's call for a climate emergency declaration, citing that "climate was an emergency some 30 years ago." He urged the Liberal Party to provide a conscience vote on the issue. Labor, Centre Alliance and multiple independent MPs now all support the Greens' proposal, and a climate emergency has been declared by 15 international parliaments and the European Union, representing 28 member states, as well as thousands of towns and cities worldwide.
The Greens support the implementation of the Portuguese model when it comes to drug law reform - specifically, the decriminalisation of drugs in favour of treating drug addiction as a health issue rather than merely a law and order issue. The Greens argue that, "A harm minimisation approach is the most appropriate way to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug or substance use, for the individual user and the community" and that, "drug policies and programs should be adopted that are evidence-based and subject to continuous evaluation."
Their approach to drug legalisation is on a case-by-case basis. They support legalising cannabis for medical and recreational use and believe the government should regulate the cannabis industry much like it does with the alcohol and tobacco industries.
The Greens believe that penalties should apply to individuals who drive with impaired cognitive or psychomotor skills as a result of consuming a drug or other substance. Criminal penalties are also supported by the Greens for the trafficking or production of commercial quantities of illicit drugs.
Addressing the problem of inhalant misuse, particularly in rural communities, is an aim of the Greens' drug policies. Their policy includes supporting the rollout of measures such as non-sniffable fuel in rural communities where petrol sniffing is considered to be a problem.
The Greens believe the cost of electricity prices can be reduced by creating "Power Australia", a not-for-profit, renewable energy provider, which is estimated to reduce power bills by $200 a year for the average consumer.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale, in a speech delivered to the National Press Club in March 2017, proposed that a discussion be had around the future of work in Australia, arguing that reduced work hours, or a shorter working week, will increase productivity and create new employment opportunities for those wishing to work more hours, while also allowing those wishing to work less the opportunity to do so. The shortfall in terms of wages earned would be made up through reform in the social welfare system; specifically, by the implementation of a universal basic income (UBI). The Greens advocate for a Future of Work Commission to independently assess the viability of such reforms.
The Greens wish to "increase the transparency and accountability of the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) in making its decisions against the National Interest Test. The National Interest Test should be strengthened to incorporate national, ecological and social objectives."
The party supports a rise in the minimum wage, arguing that in Australia, "inequality is growing, wages are flat lining and having a full-time job is no longer a guarantee of security. Working people need a living wage enshrined in law. The Liberal and Labor tax cuts arms race will further entrench inequality. A wage increase is better than a tax cut. Instead of continuing to hurdle down the road of becoming a US-style unequal society we need to lift the minimum wage, raise Newstart and invest in universal services."
The Greens acknowledge that inaction on climate change would produce dire economic costs, with evidence suggesting that climate change will negatively impact Australian tourism, a significant economic asset.
The Greens support free TAFE and university for undergraduate students and believe that schools funding should be determined on the basis of equity and need. The party also opposes the casualisation of the workforce and wants to introduce a benchmark of 80% permanent teaching staff throughout public and private VET providers.
The Greens oppose the National School Chaplaincy Program, instead wishing to redirect the funds to qualified, secular school welfare and family support professionals in schools.
The Greens strongly support the Safe Schools program, an anti-bullying program for schools that focuses on ensuring inclusive environments for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and family members. The Greens have also called for an end to discrimination towards students and staff on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation in private schools, arguing that, "[a] person’s sexuality or gender identity should not disqualify them from attending or working at any school."
Energy and resources
The Greens support the mass-rollout of renewable energy, with an aim of 100% renewable energy production by 2030, and phasing out the use of coal-fired power, as a means of driving investment and creating jobs. In 2019, the Greens pledged to create 180,000 new jobs in the renewable energy sector, including a renewable energy export industry to replace coal exports. This plan would drive billions of dollars of investment in renewable energy.
The party opposes the opening of new coal mines, and has campaigned against the Adani Carmichael coal mine using the slogan "Stop Adani", as well as the Abbot Point coal terminal. The party calls for the phasing out, closure and rehabilitation of currently operating coal mines; and the putting in place a transition plan for workers.
The party is strongly opposed to coal-seam gas mining (fracking) and regularly participate and have even organised community demonstrations against the practice.
The Greens support lowering power prices for small businesses by re-regulating electricity prices through the aforementioned Power Australia energy retailer, which would sell cheaper electricity to small businesses and drive down retail prices.
Adam Bandt, Greens spokesperson for energy, has stated:
"Small business is bearing the brunt of the old parties' addiction to gas and coal. The government loves to talk up its small business credentials, but businesses are talking about closing because Angus Taylor [Liberal MP for energy and emissions reduction] doesn't have the guts to get energy prices under control. The Greens will stand up to the big power corporations on behalf of small business. In addition to offering cheap, clean electricity packages to small businesses, our package will help businesses fuel switch from gas to electricity... The Greens will re-establish programs that were working well before Tony Abbott tore them down, like the Clean Technology Innovation Program. The key to helping small business isn't to abandon them with a small government, neoliberal approach, but for government and industry to work cooperatively to help small businesses embrace the clean energy transition. Our plan will help small businesses reduce power bills and reduce pollution."
The Greens claim to have "an extensive plan to protect our environment", including addressing the fact that 1,800 native Australian animal and plant species are currently at risk of extinction.
The Greens wish to generate new environmental protection laws and instate a national Environmental Protection Agency, which would act independently of politicians and hold the responsibility of enforcing these laws. The Greens argue that ongoing Howard-era environmental laws are "outdated" and need to be improved substantially.
The Greens support a consistent national approach to recycling and support the phasing out of single-use plastics by 2025, including straws, stirrers, cutlery, utensils, plates, bowls and polystyrene containers and cups. Similar laws have been introduced in England, planned to be effective in 2020. The Greens would establish a Plastics Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), based in Hobart, with the intention of leading Australia's efforts in reducing waste, cleaning up the oceans and finding end-markets for recovered plastic, with federal funding of $50 million over 5 years. The Greens also support state-led container deposit schemes (CDS), which provide people with incentives to recycle.
$2 billion would be invested by the Greens to improve the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef and "stop water theft" from corporations in the Murray-Darling Basin. Climate change has caused significant coral bleaching in the Reef.
The party would end Australia's Defence Treaty with the United States unless it can be changed to operate within the Greens' view on Australia's national interest. Former Greens leader Bob Brown argued that, "The US is a very great friend of Australia and always will be. But that doesn't mean that we cave in to their demands."
In 1991, the Greens stated their opposition to the Gulf War, and in 2003, opposition to the Iraq War. The Greens also opposed the Afghanistan War. However, the party is not anti-militarism per se, having supported armed intervention in East Timor in 1999, and the 2011 military intervention in Libya.
The party calls for improved human rights in countries such as China and Myanmar. In 2019, the Greens declared that it does not support the Hong Kong government's proposed new extradition agreement with China. Richard Di Natale stated that, "The Chinese Government still hasn’t aligned its key criminal laws and policies with international human rights standards. It does not always allow criminal suspects access to lawyers. It fails to investigate allegations of police torture and to hold police to account. It imprisons human rights lawyers, artists and academics."
The Greens believe that access to health care of a high standard and quality is a basic human right. Adequate access to bulk-billing general practitioners (GPs) across Australia is a priority of the party's health policy.
The Greens support a properly resourced Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme free from political interference and want the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to be composed of independent experts, clinicians and consumer representatives.
Improving food labelling to be more comprehensive and strongly enforced is another health policy adopted by the party. The party also wish to ban junk food advertising on television during times of high children television viewing.
The Greens support Medicare and believe that dental and mental health care should be included in Medicare.
The Greens are in support of voluntary euthanasia for those who are terminally ill.
The party supports same-sex marriage, with the intention of improving the mental health of LGBTIQ+ Australians and their families, in line with the position of the Australian Psychological Society (APS). The Greens were the first party to campaign for the legalisation of marriage equality, and Greens MPs often use the slogan "every vote, every time" in support. Same-sex marriage was made legal in Australia in 2018. The Greens also support calls from the APS for an Australia-wide ban on so-called gay 'conversion therapy' due to the harmful mental health effects of sexual orientation change efforts.
The party also supports reproductive health and expanding abortion services and making access to them easier.
Alzheimer's Australia National CEO, Carol Bennett publicly welcomed the Greens' $4 billion commitment to a national dementia strategy. The party has also committed $5.2 billion to create dementia friendly communities; $8 million for a risk reduction program to inform Australians about brain health; $6 million for early diagnosis; $20 million for post-diagnostic services, including expansion of the National Dementia Helpline; $64 million for a dementia-respite supplement and to develop a consumer initiative to support individuals with dementia navigate the aged care system; and $20 million to improve dementia research.
The party is very vocal in speaking in favour of the rights of asylum seekers, and to this end support the abolishing of indefinite offshore detention of asylum seekers, as well as the practice of asylum seeker boat turn backs.
In the 2016 federal election, the Greens proposed a one-time intake of 50,000 refugees from Syrian refugee camps, contrasting with the Coalition who proposed an intake of 12,000 and Labor who proposed an intake of 30,000.
The Greens favour establishing a migrant program that prioritises family reunion and facilitates migration or resettlement to Australia within a reasonable time.
Infrastructure and transport
They also call for the establishment of an infrastructure bank, with the aim of increasing federal infrastructure investment to $75 billion as a means of funding, among other things, public transport, public housing, and maintaining existing infrastructure including local government roads and storm water.
At the 2016 federal election, the Greens announced a policy to strengthen anti-discrimination laws; achieve same-sex marriage; stand up for the rights of intersex people; defend Safe Schools; provide better access to HIV-prevention medication known as PrEP; change retrograde state laws including on adoption rights and the 'gay panic' defence; provide easier access to hormone treatments for transgender and gender diverse young people; bring refugees being processed in countries which criminalise homosexuality to Australia; improve mental health for LGBTIQ people; provide training for LGBTIQ inclusive aged-care services; remove the gay blood ban, and lift aid funding including for HIV prevention projects. The Greens also wish to ban so-called gay 'conversion therapy'.
The Greens would like to establish a federal Office for LGBTI People, as part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and believe Australia should have a dedicated Commissioner for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Rights at the Australian Human Rights Commission with powers equivalent to existing commissioners.
National security and community safety
The party does not believe that Australia should participate in or subsidise the sale of weaponry. They argue that it is irresponsible of the Australian government to fund weapon exports to Saudi Arabia, which is the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism.
The Greens support an Australian Defence Force (ADF) "adequate to Australia's defence and peacekeeping needs." The party also supports the use of trade embargoes and other economic sanctions in addressing global conflicts rather than direct military action.
The party supports a law and order response to counter violent extremism, as well as intelligence work, prevention strategies and community level programs. The Greens have pledged $10 million a year for countering violent extremism. The party argues that the government needs to properly fund counterterrorism research. The party believes that it is incumbent upon political leaders to condemn white supremacy and the emerging neo-Nazi movement, which is "taking a foothold around the world, emboldened and encouraged by political leaders."
The Greens support stringent gun control legislation and argue that the Australian community is put at risk by the presence of more than 260,000 firearms in the illicit firearms market. The party believe that all political donations from the gun lobby should be banned. From 2011-2018, pro-gun groups have donated thousands of dollars to Australian political parties, including Katter's Australia Party ($808,760), the Shooters' Party ($699,834), the Coalition ($82,525), the Liberal Democratic Party ($37,311), the Labor Party ($33,032) and One Nation ($6,203).
Science, technology and research
The Greens' science and research policy, launched at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (Australia's oldest medical research institute) includes:
- Continued funding for the Medical Research Future Fund
- Targeted support for women in science
- Creating a 'Protecting Science' package, consisting of a $2.557 billion boost to the Australia Research Council, National Mental Health & Medical Research Council, and Cooperate Research Centres over the next decade;
- Providing $185.1 million over the forwards to ensure Open Access Publishing of Government funded research;
- Providing $60.2 million over the forwards to invest in strategic opportunities for international collaboration;
- Improving the R&D Tax Incentive by reversing millions of dollars of government cuts and providing a 20% non-refundable tax offset for companies that hire STEM PhD students to work in their field of expertise.
Greens MP Adam Bandt stated:
"By winding back unfair tax breaks to big polluters and big corporations, we can invest $19.4 billion into science, research and innovation to set us up for the future. Australia is lagging behind. Commonwealth investment in research and development is at its lowest level in 40 years. The old parties are stuck in the past. They're addicted to the donations of old, entrenched and polluting industries so they don't have a vision or the ability to usher in the jobs and industries of the future. This plan will put Australia on a path to joining other advanced countries that spend 4% of GDP on research and development."
The Australian Greens support a progressive taxation system. The party is concerned about tax avoidance by large corporations. For example, during the 2016-2017 period, 722 of Australia's largest corporations paid $0 in tax, according to a report by the Australian Taxation Office.
At the 2010 federal election, the party advocated for an increase in the company tax rate to 33% and an increase in the Gillard Government's Mineral Resource Rent Tax; a new top marginal tax rate of 50%; the reintroduction of estate duties; a "Tobin tax" on foreign currency transactions; that family trusts be taxed as "companies"; the introduction of road congestion charges; and elimination of fringe benefit tax concessions for cars.
Despite widespread media reports during 2019 that the party supported a "death tax", estate duties were disendorsed and removed from the Australian Greens' policy platform in November 2012. The policy had not been a part of their platform for several years. Despite being mistruths, the "death tax" scare campaign was promoted by several Liberal MPs, including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson, Hughes MP Craig Kelly, and Senator Jane Hume, as well as Pauline Hanson. The Greens state clearly on their website that, "We [The Greens] do not have any proposal for an inheritance tax in our election platform."
The party argues that its plans could be paid for by generating billions of dollars from amending taxation laws that favour large corporations, including:
- $18.7 billion from a tax on super-profits, as recommended by the Henry Tax Review
- $55.6 billion from ending the tax-free fuel rebate for mining companies; removing public subsidies for private health companies; and ending government funding for weapons exports (such as to Saudi Arabia)
- $12.8 billion from the implementation of an economy-wide carbon pricing mechanism on direct emissions from facilities which emit more than 25,000 tonnes of CO2-e per year
- $12 billion from ending tax avoidance, which would see greater transparency over the tax affairs of the biggest companies in Australia; the implementation of a Buffet Rule that would stop the top 0.5% of income earners from deducting tax to a level below 35 cents in every extra dollar earned; and resourcing the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to promote accurate and timely reporting on tax avoidance.
- $16.8 billion from the reversal of company tax cuts for businesses earning more than $10 million per annum by restoring the tax rate to 30% (small businesses would retain their current rate)
In 2019, the Greens voted against the Liberal government's $158 billion tax cut, arguing that it would disproportionately favour the wealthiest income earners in Australia. Di Natale accused Labor of becoming "simply a paler version of the Morrison government", arguing that "by voting for $158 billion in revenue cuts that will hurt people doing it tough and line the pockets of millionaires, Anthony Albanese has abandoned the mantle of opposition leader", and declaring the Greens the "real opposition".
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. The current leadership team is Richard Di Natale as leader and Adam Bandt and Larissa Waters serving as co-deputy leaders.
|Leader||State||Start||End||Time in office||Deputy /|
|Bob Brown||Tasmania||28 November 2005||13 April 2012||6 years, 137 days||Christine Milne|
|Christine Milne||Tasmania||13 April 2012||6 May 2015||3 years, 23 days||Adam Bandt|
|Richard Di Natale||Victoria||6 May 2015||Incumbent||4 years, 226 days||Larissa Waters
to 18 July 2017; from 4 December 2018
to 14 July 2017
from 14 July 2017
from 18 July 2017 to 4 December 2018
The Australian Greens, like all Australian political parties, is federally organised with separately registered state parties signing up to a national constitution, yet 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) and composed of national office bearers including the National Convenor, Secretary and Treasurer. There is also a Public Officer, a Party Agent and a Registered Officer. The National Council arrives at decisions by consensus. All policies originating from this structure are subject to ratification by the members of the Australian Greens at National Conference.
State and territory parties
The various Australian states and territories have different electoral systems, all 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 hold two seats in the unicameral Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly since the 2016 election, up from one after the 2012 election. In Queensland and the Northern Territory, their unicameral parliaments have made it difficult for the Greens to gain representation.
The Australian Greens are a federation consisting of eight parties from each state and territory:
- Australian Greens Victoria
- Greens New South Wales
- Queensland Greens
- Greens Western Australia
- Greens South Australia
- Tasmanian Greens
- ACT Greens
- Northern Territory Greens
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 a number of 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. After gaining 5 seats in the 2010 election, in April 2010 Nick McKim became the first Green Minister in Australia.
In the 2011 New South Wales election, the Greens claimed their first lower-house seat in the district of Balmain. In the 2014 Victorian election, they won two lower-house seats, those of Melbourne and Prahran.
A variety of working groups have been established by the National Council, which 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.
The Australian Young Greens are a federation of Young Greens groups from each Australian state and territory. Together they form the Youth Wing of the Australian Greens
A national Sexuality and Gender Identity Working Group existed from 2008-2012. It was concerned with advancing the party's position on LGBTIQ rights. The last National Conference agreed to start planning to revive the group.
There are LGBTIQ working groups in some state and territory parties, including:
- Queer Greens Victoria
- Queensland Rainbow Greens
- SA Greens Queer Members Action Group
- NSW Greens Sex, Sexuality and Gender Identity Working Group
Greens MPs are each assigned their own portfolios, or specific areas of responsibility. All portfolios are decided by the party and may differ in title from the Government's portfolio priorities - for example, the Greens have formed a 'Gun Control' portfolio, of which there is no equivalent in the Government.
Portfolios are divided into five major categories according to the Greens: "An equal society", "world-class essential services", "climate and the environment", "the green economy", and "a confident Australia".
As of 2019, Greens MPs hold the following portfolios:
- Richard Di Natale - Multiculturalism, Health, Foreign Affairs
- Larissa Waters - Gambling, Women, Democracy, Mining and Resources, Tourism
- Adam Bandt - Employment and Workplace Relations; Public Sector; Climate Change; Energy; Science, Research and Innovation
- Sarah Hanson-Young - Communications; Arts; Environment and Biodiversity; Nuclear; Water and Murray Darling Basin
- Mehreen Faruqi - Housing; Industry; Education; International Aid and Development; Gun Control; Local Government; Animal Welfare
- Peter Whish-Wilson - Consumer Affairs, Finance, Small Business, Treasury, Healthy Oceans, Waste and Recycling
- Janet Rice - Transport and Infrastructure, Sport, LGBTIQ, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Forests, Sustainable Cities
- Nick McKim - Digital Rights and I.T., Justice, Immigration and Citizenship
- Jordon Steele-John - Disability Rights and Services; Trade; Youth; Peace, Disarmament and Veterans' Affairs
- Rachel Siewert - First Nations Peoples' Issues; Family, Ageing and Community Services; Mental Health
Interactions with other political groups
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 and the 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 unions
The Greens were in a formal alliance with the Australian Labor Party in the Tasmanian Parliament under the Bartlett and Giddings governments between 2010 and 2014, and signed a formal agreement with the minority Gillard Labor Government in the Federal Australian Parliament in 2010. Milne declared this agreement "effectively over" in February 2013, but said that the Greens would continue to support Labor in the Parliament. Generally the Greens preference Labor ahead of the Coalition at elections.
Many Labor supporters and trade unionists 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 the Forestry Division of the CFMEU have actively campaigned against the Greens. Left-wing trade unionists and some members of Labor's Left faction sympathise with the Greens' social policies and often identify more readily with the Greens than with the Labor Right. Some unionists, such as NTEU and AMWU members have run for State or Federal parliament for the Greens. South Australian Labor MP, Kris Hanna, defected to the Australian Greens in 2003 (before leaving the Greens in 2006, and being re-elected as an independent in the 2006 South Australian election). In 2008, Queensland Labor MP Ronan Lee defected to the Greens, becoming the first-ever Greens MP in the unicameral Queensland parliament. He said he made the decision after the Queensland government had "failed to act" against climate change. In 2015, the Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU) invited federal Greens MP Adam Bandt as a speaker at the ETU National Officers' Conference in Adelaide on account of their shared opposition to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which was approved by both the ALP and LNP . Adam Bandt also spoke of the importance of "transition funding" to support workers and communities who would be affected by a transition from coal-fired power to renewable energy sources. The Greens also announced Jim Casey, the NSW state secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, as the candidate for the 2016 federal election in Grayndler.
However, these Green sympathies are not universal within Labor's Left and the two groups often find themselves competing in elections, making the Greens' growing popularity a threat to Labor. In 2002, Labor front bencher and prominent 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 and he described Greens policies as "mad". In the end, Tanner held the seat comfortably on primary votes (51.78%, +4.35-point swing). He did not stand for election at the 2010 election and his seat was won by the Greens.
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. Following the election, 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, by Mike Puleston, describing ALP officials and volunteers who scrutinised vote counting after the 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 4 am on 14 December 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.
Prior to the 2010 Federal Election, the Electrical Trades Union's Victorian branch donated $325,000 to the Greens' Victorian campaign – the largest political donation ever directed to the Party up to that time.
In March 2011, division emerged within the Labor Party over Prime Minister Gillard's initial support for a Greens proposal to remove the commonwealth veto over Territory legislation. Joe de Bruyn, head of the Shop, Distributors and Allied Employees Association, said "Everybody in the federal parliament knows that this is simply a way of letting the territories into euthanasia or whatever else they want to do". Anti-euthanasia Labor senators called on Gillard to overturn Labor's support for the Greens plan and press reports said some Labor senators had complained that the issue had not been discussed in Cabinet. Prime Minister Gillard said that no caucus members had raised concerns with her over the influence of the Greens over Labor policy. Amidst suggestions that Labor was "too close" to the Greens, Prime Minister Gillard said in March: "The Greens are not a party of government and have no tradition of striking the balance required to deliver major reform".
Relations between the Greens and the Liberal-National Coalition are generally poor and the Greens usually direct voters to preference the Labor Party ahead of the Liberals or Nationals in Australian elections. The Coalition has however directed strategic preferences to the Greens over Labor in the past, as in the Division of Melbourne, where Adam Bandt was elected at the 2010 Australian federal election with Liberal Preferences. In addition, the Tasmanian Liberal Party under Tony Rundle managed to form a minority government through an informal alliance with the Tasmanian Greens between 1996 and 1998, enacting some progressive reforms in favour of forest conservation and LGBT rights during its term. At the 2010 Victorian State Election, the Liberals put their preference for the Greens below the Labor Party.
During the 2004 federal election the Australian Greens were branded as "environmental extremists" and "fascists" by some members of the Liberal-National Coalition Government. John Anderson described the Greens as 'watermelons', being "green on the outside and red on the inside". John Howard, while 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 2011, Liberal Shadow Cabinet frontbencher Kevin Andrews published a critique of the Greens policy agenda for Quadrant Magazine in which he wrote that the Greens' "objective involves a radical transformation of the culture that underpins Western civilisation" and that their agenda would threaten the "Judeo-Christian/Enlightenment synthesis that upholds the individual" as well as "the economic system that has resulted in the creation of wealth and prosperity for the most people in human history."
In December 2013, Liberal Party Treasurer Joe Hockey secured a deal with the Greens to remove the debt ceiling in response to debt approaching the current limit of $300b, despite opposition from the Labor Party. In December 2015, the Greens struck a deal with the Coalition Government, passing a law requiring multinational private companies with a turnover over $200 million to disclose their tax arrangements and also making it mandatory for multinational companies with a global turnover of $1 billion or more to have to prepare "general purpose" financial statements, which disclose greater tax details than previously occurred in Australia. Once more the following year the Coalition Government and the Greens agreed on a permanent 15% tax rate for backpackers, in exchange for a $100 million funding boost to environmental stewardship not-for-profit Landcare.
Other minor parties
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".
The Greens have voiced opposition and even organised protests against the One Nation Party (an anti-immigration, economically protectionist Party which enjoyed significant publicity in the 1998 federal election).
The Greens generally draw support from younger voters with higher than average educational attainment. The Greens absorbed much of the Democrats' support base following its downfall as the third party in Australia and many of the social and environmental policies and issues that the Democrats advocated for have been taken up by the Greens. Much like the Democrats, the Greens have a higher proportion of supporters who are university educated, under 40, who identify as professionals in their field, who are small business owners, and who earn above the national average wage.
Those with a higher level of educational attainment are significantly more likely to vote Green than those with lower educational qualifications. 11% of those with no educational qualifications and 10% with a non-tertiary qualification voted Green in 2019, compared to 17% of those with a tertiary qualification. Among all Greens voters in 2010, 46% held a Bachelor's degree or a postgraduate qualification.
Although political commentators have described the Greens' support as comprising the "moral middle class", the party draws support across socioeconomic lines, garnering 10% of working class voters and 12% of middle class voters at the 2019 election. Notably, there has also been a steady increase in working class support for the Greens since the creation of the party. The Greens received their highest support among those earning $40,001-$80,000 at 15% in 2019. Renters were more likely to vote Green than home-owners (which may be partly explained by age), however there was not a significant difference in voting for the Greens among share owners and non-share owners (11% and 13% respectively).
A study conducted by the Roy Morgan Institute in 2013 found that those classified as professionals in their field are 50% more likely to vote Greens than any other party. The top 10 professions to vote Greens in 2013 included:
- Social professionals
- Environmental scientists
- Visual arts and crafts professionals
- Graphic and web designers, and illustrators
- Intelligence and policy analysts
- Social workers
- Judicial and other legal professionals
- Welfare, recreation and community arts workers
- University lecturers and tutors.
In 2010, approximately 67% of Greens voters resided in a major city with over 100,000 people; 20% lived in a rural area, village or country town; and 13% lived in a large town with over 25,000 people. There is a growing support for the Greens in some regional and rural areas, particularly in the northern coastal regions of New South Wales and the Surf Coast region of Victoria, around environmental and sustainability issues due to the Greens' environmental principles, particularly their opposition to coal-seam gas mining. However, by and large, Greens support in the most scarcely populated rural areas tends to be lower than average. The electorates that delivered the Greens' best lower house results at the 2016 election were wealthy metropolitan seats such as Melbourne, Higgins and Melbourne Ports.
According to the ABC's Vote Compass, 63% of Greens voters rated the environment as the most important issue at the 2019 federal election. The environment was also ranked as the most important issue overall in 2019, including all other voters. 98% of Greens voters believed global warming was an important issue, compared to 93% of Labor voters and 68% of Coalition voters. The top five issues for Greens voters include the environment, health, education, the economy and refugees.
The Greens have a significant support base among younger voters, but tend to perform poorly among elderly voters. The 2019 election result represented the highest ever vote for the Greens (28%) among those under 35. For the first time ever, the Greens overtook the Liberal Party as the second most popular party among young voters aged 18-34 years, at 28% (compared to Labor's 37% and the Liberals' 23%). The top issues for 18-34 year olds included the environment, the economy, immigration and refugees, and employment. For voters over the age of 65, just 2% of all votes were directed to the Greens Party, highlighting a significant generational divide in voting patterns.
The majority of Greens voters are either non-religious (46%) or Christian (42%). 12% of Greens voters belong to a non-Christian religion. The Greens had the highest level of support among secularists of all parties.
House of Representatives
|Election year||Leader||Votes||% of votes||Seats won||+/–||Notes|
0 / 147
0 / 148
0 / 148
0 / 150
0 / 150
0 / 150
1 / 150
|Crossbench – shared BOP|
(C&S granted to Labor minority government)
1 / 150
|2016||Richard Di Natale||1,385,651||
1 / 150
1 / 151
|Election year||Leader||Votes||% of votes||Seats won||Overall seats||+/–||Notes|
0 / 40
0 / 76
0 / 40
0 / 76
0 / 40
0 / 76
0 / 40
1 / 76
2 / 40
2 / 76
|Crossbench – shared BOP|
2 / 40
4 / 76
3 / 40
5 / 76
|Crossbench – shared BOP|
6 / 40
9 / 76
|Crossbench – sole BOP|
4 / 40
10 / 76
|Crossbench – shared BOP|
|2016||Richard Di Natale||1,197,657||
9 / 40
9 / 76
|Crossbench – shared BOP|
6 / 40
9 / 76
|Crossbench – shared BOP|
- Senator Jo Vallentine, 1990–1992, Greens WA (originally elected in 1984 as Nuclear Disarmament Party)
- Senator Christabel Chamarette, 1992–1996, Greens WA
- Senator Dee Margetts, 1993–1999, Greens WA (defeated in 1998)
- Michael Organ MP for Cunningham (NSW), 2002–2004
- Senator Kerry Nettle (NSW), 2002–2008 (elected in 2001, defeated in 2007)
- Senator Bob Brown (Tasmania), 1996–2012 (elected in 1996, resigned in 2012)
- Senator Christine Milne (Tasmania), 2005-2015 (elected in 2004, resigned in 2015)
- Senator Penny Wright (SA), 2011–2015 (elected in 2010, resigned in 2015)
- Senator Robert Simms (SA), 2015–2016
- Senator Scott Ludlam (WA), 2008-2017 (elected in 2007, resigned and disqualified in 2017)
- Senator Lee Rhiannon (NSW), 2011-2018 (elected in 2010, resigned in 2018)
- Senator Andrew Bartlett (QLD), 2017–2018
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.
State and territory
3 / 93
5 / 42
3 / 88
1 / 40
|House of Assembly|
2 / 25
2 / 22
4 / 36
1 / 93
2 / 25
For a full list of current and former Greens members of parliament in the states and territories see:
List of Greens MPs in
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales;
- South Australia;
- Western Australia;
Note that the Greens have never had any representation in the Northern Territory.
Other notable members
- Andrew Bartlett, former Democrats Leader, former Greens Senator for Queensland and candidate for Brisbane
- Clive Hamilton, Greens candidate for the 2009 Higgins by-election
- Chris Harris, former Greens Councillor for the City of Sydney
- Jean Jenkins, former Democrats Senator for Western Australia
- Janet Powell, former Democrats Leader.
- Peter Singer, moral philosopher and Greens candidate for the 1994 Kooyong by-election
- Brian Walters SC, prominent Human Rights lawyer and candidate for the state seat of Melbourne at the 2010 Victorian election
- Andrew Wilkie, former Greens candidate and independent federal member for Denison (2010–19) and Clark (2019–present)
- Julian Burnside AO QC, prominent barrister, human rights and refugee advocate, and candidate for the federal seat of Kooyong in the 2019 federal election.
- Jason Ball, former Australian rules football player and mental health advocate, and candidate for Higgins
For the 2015-2016 financial year, the top ten disclosed donors to the Greens Party were: Graeme Wood (businessman) ($600,000), Duncan Turpie ($400,000), Electrical Trades Union of Australia ($320,000), Louise Crossley ($138,000), Anna Hackett ($100,000), Pater Investments ($100,000), Ruth Greble ($35,000), Minax Uriel Ptd Ltd ($35,000) and Chilla Bulbeck ($32,000).
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