21 Aug 2010

Caroline Lucas congratulates first Green Party MP in Australia

Just had this from Green Party HQ, good news.
Australia elects its first Green MP...

...and the UK’s first Green MP broadcasts congratulations to Melbourne celebration party

Today Australia became the second Commonwealth country this year to elect its first Green Party MP – and in a show of solidarity from the other side of the planet, the Australian Greens invited Britain’s first Green MP to broadcast a live message to their celebration party in Melbourne.

Caroline Lucas, the new Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, congratulated Adam Bandt (1), the new Green Party MP for Melbourne, who like Caroline won the progressive vote to take a seat from a Labour party. Caroline today spoke of her delight in the Australian Greens’ success:

“It’s excellent news for Australia, because the Greens are the party nowadays offering the socially progressive policies as well as the best environmental policies.

“And it’s excellent news for the world, because with a stronger Green influence we can expect Australia to be pushing harder for a proper global agreement on climate change.”

Adam Bandt had been expected to take the house of representatives (lower house) seat of Melbourne from the Labor Party. This seat covers the inner city suburbs of Melbourne and had been held by Labor since 1900.

According to an official from party leader Senator Bob Brown’s team, “This seat has been Labor’s heartland, but now many of the progressive voters of Melbourne have become disillusioned by Labor’s conservative stance on refugees, climate change and gay marriage as well as many other issues.”

The early indication is that Adam Bandt polled 52% of the vote “after preferences”, the vote being held under the AV (additional vote) system currently under consideration for the UK house of commons. Mr Bandt may even find himself in a “balance of power” situation.

Green Party campaign won progressive vote

As with their English colleagues in Brighton Pavilion, the Australian Greens won the Melbourne seat through an effective targeting strategy and a strong message to progressive voters on social issues, as well far stronger environmental policies than the bigger parties were offering.

The Australian Greens had been polling at 13-16% of the national vote over the last 6 months, and this held up during the election campaign. At the time of writing it’s too early to tell how many new senators (upper house representatives) the Greens will gain, but a vote of this size could mean five new seats in the senate. This would bring the number of Greens in the upper chamber, which is elected under the single transferable vote system, to ten.

An Australians Greens insider said today as the votes were being counted:

“Even if we only get two or three new Senators all commentators agree that we will hold the balance of power in the senate. This means we will have a much more influential role in the parliament and in amending and moving legislation. Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, has had unprecedented media attention during the campaign with good coverage of our health, education, transport and environmental policies.


1. Adam Bandt is an industrial and discrimination law lawyer. He ran for the seat in 2007 and got 45.3% of the vote after preferences were distributed and the Labor vote after preferences was 54% of the vote. This election the long-time Labor member who narrowly beat Adam in 2007 has retired, increasing Adam’s chances of winning. See http://greens.org.au/content/adambandt#3 for further information relating to his campaign.

1 comment:

VM said...

Michael Organ was the first Greens MP elected to the House of Representatives in Australia - the equivalent of the House of 'Commons' in the UK - earlier this decade.

Bandt was the first Green MP elected at a general election; Organ was elected at a by-election.

Some factors sour this victory.

Firstly, Bandt was elected on the back of preferences from Australia's Tory party, the Liberals, in this rather gentrified inner-city seat. (Australia has a preferential/alternative vote system, you list candidates 1,2,3,4 etc.)

Secondly, the pleasure that Greens politicians have shown on tv coverage of today's election, despite the probable election of a conservative minority government headed by a homophobic climate change denier, Tony Abbott, makes them look a lot like party careerists, not like the representatives of a generally alternative and progressive political movement.

The positive for Brits is that it shows the continuing rise of the Greens as a viable 3rd party, a move that came after the collapse of the centrist 3rd party the Australian Democrats which fell apart over the support of the Liberal-National coalitions introduction of a VAT a decade ago.

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