Australian Greens

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Template:Infobox Political Party

The Australian Greens is the national Greens party in Australia. It was formed as a coalition of the various state Greens parties, although the Greens (Western Australia) preserved a separate identity for some time. At the federal level there are two Greens in the Australian Senate (Senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle), and in July 2005 they will be joined by Senators-elect Christine Milne from Tasmania and Rachel Siewert from Western Australia. There was one MP in the Australian House of Representatives (Michael Organ), who was elected at a by-election in 2002, but he lost his seat at the 2004 elections. The Australian Greens do not have a formal leadership, but Senator Brown of Tasmania is treated in the media as the party's leader.

Currently there are Green members in the parliaments of Western Australia (5), Tasmania (4), New South Wales (3), the Australian Capital Territory (1) and South Australia (1). The Greens have gained some support since 2001 at the expense of the Australian Democrats and to some extent the Australian Labor Party.

On 23 October 2003 Brown and Nettle were suspended from the Parliament for 24 hours when they both separately interjected during an address by the visiting President of the United States, George W. Bush.

Although the Greens see themselves as representing a "new politics" which is distinct from the traditional categories of "left" and "right", they are seen by many Australians as a "left-wing" or radical party, and have become the party which attracts most of the left-wing vote. At the 2001 federal election, many left-wing supporters of the Australian Labor Party, including many party members, voted for the Greens as a protest against their own party's policies on asylum seekers.


Political ideology

Because the party has been most vocal on environmental issues, it is often seen as a 'single issue' or 'special interest' party. However, its electoral successes have led to the formulation of a wider policy platform, especially with regards to economics, healthcare and social justice. Many of these policies are perceived to be radical and controversial, including support for euthanasia and harm minimisation drug programs. Such policies have attracted fierce criticism from many conservative groups, particularly the Family First Party. The Greens are sometimes derisively refered to by their adversaries as "Watermelons" (green on the outside, red and pink on the inside)[1] (

The Australian Greens have much political common ground with the Australian Democrats, particularly on environmental and social issues, a fact that has led to occasional suggestions of a merger between the two parties. However, the two parties differ more often on economic issues (e.g. the GST, which was introduced with Democrat support) and on their willingness to compromise with the major parties; in general, the Democrats have attempted to work with and moderate the government of the day, while the Greens are less willing to make such deals[2] ( These differences have led to a rivalry between the two parties.

In the 2004 election, the Democrats directed their preferences to a number of groups including the Veterans Party, the Progressive Alliance, and the Christian-influenced conservative party Family First, above the Greens, even though most Democrats abhorred many of Family First's policies. While this was interpreted by some as an act of hostility towards a rival threatening their political niche, it is not unusual in Australian politics for small parties that might otherwise have little in common to make mutually advantageous preference-swap deals with one another.

2004 Election


In the 2004 Federal election the Greens' primary vote rose by around 2%, to an average of around 7%. 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 would actually decrease.

Additionally, the 2004 election saw an intense media campaign from the christian-influenced conservative Family First Party, including a television advertisement labelling them the "Extreme Greens". The other main left-of-centre parties directed their vote preferences to Family First before the Greens resulting in a loss of the usual flow of votes from the Australian Democrats and the ALP. An example of this is where Victorian candidate Steve Fielding was elected on preferences, despite being outpolled by the Australian Greens' David Risstrom by a ratio of more than four to one first-preference votes. Christine Milne also only narrowly gained her seat before a Family First candidate, even though she received 14,897 primary votes, compared to Family First's Jacquie Petrusma's 1,514.


  1. The Australian Greens do not formally have a leader. Sen Bob Brown is the party's senior elected official and is treated by the media and public as its leader. He would be more accurately described as the parliamentary leader.

See also

External links

Official Links

Other Links

Template:Australian political parties


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