The Australian Greens, commonly known as The Greens, are an Australian green political party. The party was formed in 1992 and is today a confederation of eight state and territory parties.
The Greens have had a long strange history: from early radical roots as a party of environmental protest, the mainstream has finally caught up with them. Led by Tasmanian Senator Christine Milne, they have stayed consistently on message for three decades and are not going away, to the disquiet of the major parties.
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. The UTG first ran candidates in the 1972 Tasmanian state election. Co-ordination between environmentalist groups occurred in the 1980s with various protests including one of the most significant environmental campaigns in Australian history against the proposed damming of the Franklin River and the subsequent flooding of Lake Pedder. Key people involved in these campaigns included the party's former leader Bob Brown and current leader Christine Milne who went on to contest and win seats in the Tasmanian Parliament and eventually form the Tasmanian Greens.
The Greens Western Australia won the first Green Senate spot when anti-nuclear campaigner Jo Vallentine in 1990. Bob Brown entered the Senate in 1996 and Greens Senators have remained in the upper house ever since. The Party briefly held a House of Representatives seat following a 2002 by-election, but did not win a seat in the lower house at a General Election until 2010. The number of elected representatives in the Federal Parliament has grown, currently the Greens party has nine senators and one member in the lower house of the Parliament of Australia, 24 elected representatives in state and territory parliaments, more than 100 local councillors and according to Bob Brown close to 10,000 party members.
The Greens are structured into regional working groups, which form the basis for the party. These working groups discuss and formulate policies based on consensus decision making. These policies are then passed up to the state working group for a consensus, and then, if required, up to the federal working group.
Other than environmentalism the party cites four core values: ecological sustainability, social justice, grassroots democracy and peace and non-violence.
This could be snidely summed up as "Save the [insert cause here]", but their chief cause is environmental conservation. Now that climate change has finally become an unavoidable issue for the major parties, the Greens will be able to use their power over Labor in the Senate to good advantage. They have been criticized often (by Liberals particularly) of being simple radicals with no mainstream appeal, but the Liberals attack anyone with a popular issue prior to absorbing it for themselves.
In the current cycle (2010-2013) Labor has, presumably on good grounds, decided to attack the Greens vote. This invites retaliation but it isn't clear how this situation will resolve in the upcoming election.
Adam Bandt Volunteer