2023 is the year for the Greens to lay the groundwork for a national organising strategy that helps us continue to spread our message and build our movement. In this adaptation of his speech to National Conference in December last year, Adam Bandt outlines the challenges that lie ahead – as well as the incredible opportunities.
BY ADAM BANDT
Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens
022 was an exciting year for the green movement. With significant gains in the federal and Victorian elections, we proved that our plan to stop new coal and gas mines, make the billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, and make mental and dental healthcare free is popular, possible, and shared by millions of Australians.
These successes and the growth in parliamentary representation is only possible thanks to the hard work of thousands of members, volunteers and dedicated officeholders working tirelessly – sometimes in public, often behind the scenes; always for a better, more equal future.
But right now, the Liberal and Labor parties in Parliament are stopping us from realising that future.
Labor is intent on being a centre-right party that appeals to conservatives at the expense of the Liberals, the Liberals are becoming a far-right irrelevance, and the Greens are set to be the country’s social democratic party.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and so popular are our plans that in the Victorian election, the Liberal party offered free school lunches and the Labor party said they’d bring electricity into public ownership!
The federal government, though, shows no sign of following suit at the moment. In the face of a climate and inequality crisis, they are intent on keeping stage three tax cuts and subsidies to coal and gas, desperate to hang on to the key tenets of neoliberalism that got us into this mess.
n Parliament, we know the big problem is that Labor and Liberal agree on so much when it comes to inequality and to coal and gas.
So the way to achieve our goals is not just to elect more Greens to Parliament, but to build power once they’re there through a social movement.
To do that, we need to grow. We need to grow in how we are seen, and how we think about ourselves. We need to be more than a party that is seen as the best to tackle the climate crisis. We need to be the party that can fix the broken system, by making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share and giving power back to the people through a new social compact.
But critically, we need to grow our capacity to communicate with people. People love our platform when they hear it, and they agree with our critique of the political establishment, but too often they don’t hear it at all, and that is a massive obstacle.
In Parliament, where our numbers have increased by 60 percent, a terrified government has refused to increase our collective staff. That means the Labor party in government has roughly 250 political staff. We’ve got about 16. They are backed by hundreds of staff in the party office, fossil fuel corporations, billionaires and big corporations – and have had a century’s head start on us.
That puts us at a massive disadvantage – and means we need to work ten times as hard, just to keep up. They are deliberately expecting us to do more with less, increasing the pressure on your Parliamentary team and hoping cracks will appear.
To overcome this we need to power up our movement. My team first won in Melbourne because we started organising and speaking with people at a huge scale – and Queensland’s teams have supercharged that strategy.
In Griffith, Brisbane, and Ryan, doorknockers met with organisers after a session to refine messaging – or even shift to campaigning on a new issue – based on what voters were saying. They trained people to listen and take feedback, and trained people to persuade.
The campaign for the 2025 election is already underway. We need to continuously campaign.
With the Victorian election done and dusted, voting day in NSW just around the corner, and the federal poll not for another couple of years, I know it’s difficult to start thinking about the next election – but we have to.
We must continue to grow. We have to add more and more people to the team so we can maintain a healthy culture at work and in our activism. We must fix mistakes quickly, share our strategies, and keep members and supporters directly informed of our actions. We need to grow our party, our campaign teams and our organising operations.
he PM has already come to Queensland saying they aim to win Griffith, Brisbane and Ryan at the next election. And now for the first time we also have the Liberals trying to win these seats as well, so we have a bigger fight than ever before.
The penalties for failure are high. Our species is losing the battle to tackle the climate crisis and inequality. We must be able to make demands, hold our ground, and deliver.
So I want this to be the start of the moment we took what happened in Queensland, learned from it, and spread it across the country. If we do that, the next election could be massive.
If we prepare now, we will be able to hold our own in the face of pressure from the government, but we’ll be able to match what we do in Parliament with what people hear on the ground, and we could well end up with not just four seats in the House, but 8 or 12 or more.
But we must not forget that we threaten the power of Australia’s political establishment, and they are currently terrified. Because we stand in the way of the wholesale destruction of the environment for profit, we stand in the way of selling off our services for profit, and we stand for our basic rights to an affordable place to live, decent healthcare and a free education.
“The campaign for the 2025 election is already underway.”
They will fight back. They have much to lose. They are fighting for their privilege, their power and exploitation.
But we are on the side of the vast majority of people who want a better future.
We are a collective. We have incredible energy and hunger for a better world. We now need to build new leaders in our organisations and communities and invest in them.
This is the spring of our growth.
We need new shoots, new leaves, new fruits and new seeds, and we need to expand our coverage, to become a greater part of this country’s political landscape. So in 2023, please get involved in our organising efforts and support our Lower House teams around the country.
Building a bigger, more organised, more active Greens party is a big challenge. But it’s worthwhile, and it’s absolutely vital to the success of our mission. I think we can do it.