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As Victorian Senator Richard Di Natale is elected unopposed as the new leader of the Greens, Editor Paul Bugeja wonders why Adam Bandt and Sarah Hanson Young were overlooked.
Earlier today, then leader of the Greens, Christine Milne, let the twittersphere know that she would not be contesting the 2016 Federal election and was jumping ship as Leader of the party – effectively immediately.
Feeling optimistic, proud & sad to announce I’m not contesting 2016 election, and so I resign as Leader of Australian Greens
— Christine Milne (@senatormilne) May 6, 2015
A leadership ballot was duly scheduled for 11.30am and, not longer after, Victorian Senator Richard di Natale found himself at the helm. An ex-GP, much like Greens Demigod and former leader Bob Brown, di Natale came across as assured yet excited in his first presser – and even a little aggro at times in possibly a sign of a shaking up for the Greens moving forward given many might argue that under Milne’s leadership the Greens have lost some of their bite.
Reaching out to young voters, who the Greens have something of a natural appeal to, di Natale was also quick to allay any concerns about factionalism or there being any kind of ‘stitch-up’ around the change in leadership. And yet with Senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam named “co-deputy leaders”, replacing Melbourne-based Adam Bandt, questions must be asked given Bandt has been touted as the next leader of his party. Vocal firebrand and outspoken human rights advocate Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was also notably overlooked for the deputy role.
(Bandt doesn’t seem overly perturbed…at least not tweet-wise)
Congrats Richard & new team! V happy to hand over Deputy to focus on new baby (due in few wks!) & winning further Reps seats in Vic & NSW.
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) May 6, 2015
On the surface, this move points towards the Greens not wanting to stack their leadership too heavily in favour of one state, thus ensuring a true democratic, Australia-wide leadership (Waters is from Qld and Ludlum, WA).
Or is there something more to it?
Why did the deputy fall with the leader?
What factionalism has gone on within the party to see Bandt shuffled along?
Or is he just biding his time, waiting for the next shuffle that might very well occur if the Greens don’t substantially improve their standing at the 2016 Federal election after a less-than-compelling vote in 2013?
Although kind words have been offered at Milne’s departure from both within and outside of the party, questions will be asked as to Milne’s legacy and in what way she might be deemed to have left her imprimatur on the party.
Sadly, the answer is that in the longer game of pushing the Greens into a more stable and ongoing political force within the electorate, Milne’s shortish reign will be more than likely seen as a place-keeper moment following Brown’s departure as although the Party’s standing in Victoria improved dramatically at the 2014 election, the same can’t be said of the 2013 Federal election.
Similarly, even though Milne stuck to her guns on climate change, the broader Greens policy platform did not move forward in any other way, meaning there will be little substantial policy legacy with Milne’s fingerprints over it.
However, Milne will be remembered more fondly for her time prior to being leader, particularly during the campaign opposing the Franklin Dam when she was arrested and jailed in 1983.
Let’s check in again in a few month’s time and see how the Greens under new leader di Natale are travelling, but , more importantly how they fare in the 2016 Federal election.
Watch this (Greens) space….