Australian Greens

Last updated

Australian Greens
Leader Adam Bandt
Co-deputy leaders
Founded1992;29 years ago (1992)
Headquarters Turner, Australian Capital Territory [1]
NewspaperGreen Magazine
Think tank The Green Institute
Youth wing Young Greens
Membership (2020)Increase2.svg 15,000 [2]
Ideology Green politics [3]
Regional affiliation Asia-Pacific Greens
International affiliation Global Greens
Colours  Green
SloganA Future for All of Us
House of Representatives
1 / 151
9 / 76
State and Territory Lower Houses [lower-alpha 1]
16 / 455
State and Territory Upper Houses [lower-alpha 1]
10 / 155

The Australian Greens, commonly known as The Greens, are a confederation of Green state political parties in Australia. [4] As of the 2019 federal election, the Greens are currently the third largest political party in Australia by vote. The leader of the party is Adam Bandt, and the party's co-deputy leaders are Larissa Waters and Nick McKim.


The party was formed in 1992 and is a confederation of eight state and territorial parties. The party cites four core values, namely ecological sustainability, social justice, grassroots democracy and peace and non-violence. [5] The party's origins can be traced to early environmental movement in Australia, the Franklin Dam controversy, the Green bans, and the nuclear disarmament movement. Beginning with the United Tasmania Group, one of the first green parties in the world. [6]

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, [7] and over 15,000 party members (as of 2016). [8] All Senate and House of Representatives seats were retained at the 2019 federal election. [9]



Sydney Greens in the 1980s, the first political party in Australia to use the label Green Sydney-Greens-Glebe-061085.jpg
Sydney Greens in the 1980s, the first political party in Australia to use the label Green

The origins of the Australian Greens can be traced to the early environmental movement in Australia and the formation of the United Tasmania Group, one of the first green parties in the world, [6] but also the nuclear disarmament movement in Western Australia and sections of the industrial left in New South Wales who were inspired by the Builders Labourers Federation Green bans in Sydney. [10] 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 Parliament of Tasmania and eventually form the Tasmanian Greens. Both Brown and Milne subsequently became leaders of the federal party.

The formation of the federal party in 1992 brought together over a dozen green groups, from state and local organisations, some of which had existed for 20 years. [5] 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. [5] 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. [11]

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 lost her seat in the 1998 federal election, leaving Brown as the sole Australian Greens senator.


Bob Brown lays out the Greens' climate change policies in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election BobBrownSpeaking.jpg
Bob Brown lays out the Greens' climate change policies in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election

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". [12] 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 2004 federal election the Australian Greens fielded candidates in every House of Representatives seat in Australia. 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.

The Greens increased their national vote by 1.38 points to 9.04% at the 2007 federal election, with the election of South Australian senator Sarah Hanson-Young taking the number of Greens senators to 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. [13] [14] [15]

In November 2008, Senator Christine Milne was elected deputy leader in a ballot contested against Senator Rachel Siewert.


The 2010 federal election marked a high point for the Greens electorally with the party receiving its largest vote to date and sharing the balance of power. The Greens received a four percent swing to finish with 13 percent of the vote in the Senate. The Greens won a seat in each of the six states at the election, 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. [16] 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. [17] Almost two weeks after the election, 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. [18] [19] [20]

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. [21]

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, [22] [23] allowing Gillard and Labor to remain in power with a 76–74 minority government. [24]

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 [25] 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. [26] 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. [27]


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 receiving a decline in votes, 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.

At the 2014 Australian Senate special election in Western Australia the Greens won in excess of a quota with the primary vote increasing from 9.5 to 15.6 percent, re-electing Scott Ludlam. [28]

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. [29] 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. [30]

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.

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". [31]

2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis

In 2017, Senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters were forced to resign during 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis after it was found that Ludlam had dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship and Waters had dual citizenship with Canada. [32] [33] Subsequently, Adam Bandt and Rachel Siewert were named as temporary co-deputy leaders until the arrival of Ludlam and Waters' replacements in Canberra. [34]

2019 election

At the 2019 federal election, the Australian Greens received a primary vote of 10.4% in the House of Representatives, with a federal swing of +0.2%. [35] The party's highest vote was captured in the Australian Capital Territory (16.8%), followed by Victoria (11.9%), Western Australia (11.6%), Queensland (10.3%), Northern Territory (10.2%), Tasmania (10.1%), South Australia (9.6%) and New South Wales (8.7%). The party retained the federal electorate of Melbourne with Adam Bandt sitting at a 71.8% two-party preferred vote. [36]

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%). [37] 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. [38] 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. [39] Greens candidate Jason Ball, for the Division of Higgins, failed to enter the two-party preferred vote, despite optimism within the Greens and a diminishing Liberal vote. [40] [41] 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%. [38]

Upcoming election

The Greens' strategy for the upcoming federal election involves targeting nine key seats, including the five current Labor-held seats of Macnamara, Griffith, Richmond, Wills, and Canberra, and four current Liberal-held seats of Kooyong, Brisbane, Ryans and Higgins. [42] Bandt claimed that polling suggests a hung parliament is a likely outcome and the Greens would work with Labor to "kick the Liberals out and make the next government go further and faster on climate action, and make billionaires and mining corporations pay their fair share." [42] Antony Green suggested that a redistribution in Victoria by the Australian Electoral Commission will likely increase the Greens' odds of winning the seat of Macnamara. [43]


The Australian Greens are part of the global "green politics" movement. The charter of the Australian Greens identifies four main pillars as the party's policy: "social justice", "sustainability", "grassroots democracy" and "peace and non-violence". [44]

Policy positions

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. [45] 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. [46] 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. [46] [47] A target of 100% renewable energy by 2030 has been adopted by the party.

The party strongly favours policies to promote animal welfare and strict laws against animal cruelty. The Greens are in favour of phasing out live animal exports, instead favouring investment in the chilled meat industry. [48] [49] The Greens have also campaigned on banning greyhound racing, whaling and animal-tested cosmetics. [45] In terms of agricultural policy, the party believes in phasing out caged egg production and sow stalls, instead favouring ethical farming practices. [45] The party acknowledges that methane emissions from livestock need to be reduced as these emissions are a major source of global warming. [50] This would be achieved by supporting research, animal health and nutrition, selection and genetics. The Greens strongly support community-driven decision-making processes as a means by which soil and water degradation can be addressed. [50] Support for farmers experiencing the effects of climate change through droughts, and soil and water degradation has been expressed by the Greens. [50] Another aim of the party is to ensure "fair" prices for farmers, against growing international competition, and to "reward farmers for the repair and maintenance of ecosystems". [50]

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. [51] The party supports the implementation of a Green New Deal, which entails investment in renewable energy technology and a revitalisation of Australian manufacturing, as economic stimulus. [52] Manufacturing would be required to produce solar panels, wind turbines and green steel produced from hydrogen. To support the transition to clean energy, the party calls for growth in lithium mining. [53] The Greens have also proposed plans to boost jobs and apprenticeships in the construction of public housing units as further economic stimulus as well as to address rising homelessness in Australia. [54]

Green politicians have campaigned on free undergraduate university (for the first three years) and TAFE, paid for by ending tax avoidance and fossil fuel subsidies. [55] The party opposes fee hikes for degrees and funding cuts for universities, [56] and have called for increased funding for public schools. [57]

The party supports universal health care. The party is in favour of extending Medicare coverage to all non-cosmetic dental health care and increasing subsidised mental health care on the basis of symptomatology. [55] Furthermore, the party supports reproductive health rights and voluntary euthanasia. [58] The Greens support drug law reform, including the legalisation of cannabis; treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue; and community pill-testing, [59] in line with recommendations from the Australian Medical Association. [60]

The Greens are often known for their outspoken advocacy on numerous social issues, such as the legalisation of marriage equality, the right to seek asylum and gender equality. 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. [61]



Federal leaders

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. [62] Each leader has been described to represent a faction within the party, with the political journalist Paddy Manning describing that Christine Milne came from the right wing of the party, while Bandt is the first Greens leader from the left wing of the party. [63]

Parliamentary portfolios

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 The Greens have formed a Gun Control portfolio, of which there is no equivalent in the government. [64] [65]

Portfolios are divided into five major categories according to the Greens such as "an equal society", "world-class essential services", "climate and the environment", "the green economy", and "a confident Australia". [64]

National Council

The Australian Greens 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. [66] 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), two members of the federal party room, a representative of the Greens' First Nations network, and the national office bearers including the National Convenor, Secretary and Treasurer. As at May 2020, all 7 of the party's office bearer positions are held by women. [67] 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. [68]

State and territory parties

The Australian Greens are a federation consisting of eight parties from each state and territory. 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 seats in the unicameral Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly and Legislative Assembly of Queensland. As of 2020, no members have been elected from the Northern Territory.

Three Greens have become ministers at the state/territory level: Nick McKim and Cassy O'Connor in Tasmania until 2014, and Shane Rattenbury in the ACT to the present.

Most of the state-based Green parties which have joined the Australian Greens do not have a formal leader, and instead they have a shared leadership structure. [69] However, Tasmania, Victoria, and the ACT, have adopted singular leadership structures into their party. [69]

The current Australian Green member parties are the following:

PartyLeaderLegislative AssemblyLegislative CouncilStatus
Greens New South Wales None
3 / 93
3 / 42
Australian Greens Victoria Samantha Ratnam
3 / 88
1 / 40
Queensland Greens None
2 / 93
None Crossbench
Greens Western Australia None
0 / 59
1 / 36
Greens South Australia None
0 / 47
2 / 22
Tasmanian Greens Cassy O'Connor
2 / 25
0 / 15
ACT Greens Shane Rattenbury
6 / 25
NoneCoalition government with ACT Labor
Northern Territory Greens None
0 / 25

Working groups

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. [70]

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 exists at a federal level, [71] and 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.


The Greens generally draw support from younger voters with higher than average educational attainment. The Greens absorbed much of the Australian 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, identify as professionals in their field, are small business owners, and earn above the national average wage. [72] Notably, there has also been a steady increase in working-class support for the Greens since the creation of the party. [73]

Electoral results

Federal Parliament

House of Representatives

Election yearLeaderVotes % of votesSeats won+/–Status
1993 None196,7021.9 (#5)
0 / 147
1996 188,994Decrease2.svg 1.7 (#5)
0 / 148
1998 238,035Increase2.svg 2.1 (#6)
0 / 148
2001 569,074Increase2.svg 5.0 (#5)
0 / 150
2004 841,734Increase2.svg 7.2 (#3)
0 / 150
2007 Bob Brown 967,789Increase2.svg 7.8 (#3)
0 / 150
2010 1,458,998Increase2.svg 11.76 (#3)
1 / 150
Increase2.svg 1Crossbench (supporting Labor government)
2013 Christine Milne 1,116,918Decrease2.svg 8.65 (#3)
1 / 150
2016 Richard Di Natale 1,385,651Increase2.svg 10.23 (#3)
1 / 150
2019 1,482,923Increase2.svg 10.40 (#3)
1 / 151


Election yearLeaderVotes % of votesSeats wonOverall seats+/–Notes
1990 None201,6182.0 (#5)
0 / 40
0 / 76
1993 263,106Increase2.svg 2.5 (#5)
0 / 40
0 / 76
Steady2.svg 0
1996 180,404Decrease2.svg 1.7 (#5)
0 / 40
0 / 76
Steady2.svg 0
1998 244,165Increase2.svg 2.2 (#6)
0 / 40
1 / 76
Steady2.svg 0 [lower-alpha 2]
2001 574,543Increase2.svg 4.9 (#5)
2 / 40
2 / 76
Increase2.svg 1 Crossbench – shared BOP
2004 916,431Increase2.svg 7.7 (#3)
2 / 40
4 / 76
Increase2.svg 2Crossbench
2007 Bob Brown 1,144,751Increase2.svg 9.0 (#3)
3 / 40
5 / 76
Increase2.svg 1Crossbench – shared BOP
2010 1,667,315Increase2.svg 13.1 (#3)
6 / 40
9 / 76
Increase2.svg 4Crossbench – sole BOP
2013 Christine Milne 1,159,588Decrease2.svg 8.6 (#3)
4 / 40
10 / 76
Increase2.svg 1Crossbench – shared BOP
2016 Richard Di Natale 1,197,657Increase2.svg 8.7 (#3)
9 / 76
9 / 76
Decrease2.svg 1Crossbench – shared BOP
2019 1,488,427Increase2.svg 10.19 (#3)
6 / 40
9 / 76
Steady2.svgCrossbench – shared BOP

Current Federal Parliamentarians


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.

For current and former state parliamentarians, see the List of Australian Greens parliamentarians.

Other notable members


For the 2015-2016 financial year, the top ten disclosed donors to the Greens were: Graeme Wood ($500,000), Duncan Turpie ($500,000), 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 ($39,800) and Chilla Bulbeck ($30,000). [74]

Since 2017, the Australian Greens have implemented real-time disclosure of donations to them of over $1,000, in an effort to "clean up politics". [61]

See also


  1. 1 2 Any state or territory legislatures
  2. Bob Brown was elected to the senate in 1996 as a representative of the Tasmanian Greens. By the time of the 1998 election (where he was not up for re-election), the Tasmanian Greens had affiliated with the national organisation.

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Further reading