“Flooding the Franklin would be like putting a scratch across the Mona Lisa”
Environmentalist Bob Brown delivered these famous words in the early 1980s, as he, Christine Milne and many others protested the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania.
The attempted Franklin River hydroelectricity scheme engaged a movement of people passionate for preserving Australia’s environment. However, while many of the Franklin protesters would go on to be leaders in the Greens, the first shoots of Australia’s green political movement sprouted in the 1970s.
A fledgling movement
There are a number of states keen to claim the birthplace of the Greens as we know them.
The United Tasmania Group was the first ‘green’ party anywhere in the world and ran candidates in the 1972 election (see Tasmanian Greens history).
Other state-based Greens parties sprung up in the early 1980s. New South Wales was the first to register the name, ‘the Greens’ in 1983. Western Australia, which fostered an earlier nuclear disarmament movement, had the first Green Senator in 1990.
In 1992 Australia’s state-based Greens parties joined together, fronting the press on 30 August to announce the new federal party, the Australian Greens.
The Greens movement quickly gained momentum. Everyday people were the victors when we successfully pushed for Denticare and the Clean Energy Act.
It quickly became apparent that more Australians than ever were standing up for this beautiful country. Thanks to your support, Greens in the Senate and in state parliaments grew.
In 2010, 1.6 million Australians voted Greens. Our elected numbers expanded, with four new seats in the Senate and Adam Bandt becoming the first Greens elected for a federal seat.
The Greens today
Today, the Greens not only speak for the environment but also on behalf of people who are disadvantaged in our society: children, refugees, students, people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and individuals and families living in poverty.
In 2016 the Australian Greens has 10 Federal Senators, one Federal MP (Adam Bandt), 23 State MPs, and more than 100 Greens Councillors including Green Mayors.
But even as our success story continues, we will always remember that we began with people just like you — people who cared and stood up for what was right.