Our international work over the past year have set us up well for a federal election year in which the overseas vote will be crucial, and to run and win globally networked campaigns in future.
By Josh Wyndham-Kidd
To kick off the year, we worked with the NSW state election team to organise mailouts to priority NSW voters in 10+ countries, including Green party volunteer mailing bees in the US, Sweden, Germany, France, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada.
Our major campaign project was helping the Green parties of the UK during their breakthrough general election in May 2015.
Working with the Australian Greens and federal Party Room communication teams, we sent an email from Natalie Bennett to ~144,000 Australian Greens members and supporters about registering to vote Green in the upcoming UK election. We received positive feedback to this from many voters who hadn't realised that they were eligible to vote, who subsequently registered and planned to vote Green. This was especially important because of the high crossover between Australian and UK electoral eligibility, with Australian citizens in the UK and most UK citizens in Australia eligible to register and vote.
On election day, we ran Get Out The Vote phone banks in Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, at which 22 volunteers called positive voters in Caroline Lucas MP's seat of Brighton Pavilion to remind them to vote. The volunteer team made thousands of calls, and contributed in our own way to the huge swing to Caroline and her re-election.
Elsewhere in the world, we're in the early days of speaking to Green parties in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan about sharing skills and experience before their national elections in 2016. Canada's electoral legislation restricts campaigning by people outside Canada, so while we may be able to provide moral support we can't take an active role in helping our fellow Greens evict their fossil fuel addicted government this October.
On the training front, we ran a webinar with Adam Ramsay on the Green Surge in the UK and took part in a workshop at the 2015 Campaign Hothouse on international campaign experiences.
The key international project for this year was the Asia-Pacific Greens Federation (APGF) Congress in Aotearoa New Zealand this June. The Congress brought together members of parties from across the Asia-Pacific to form a new legal entity to build capacity for all member parties.
We provided funding support for 5 delegates and 6 observers to attend Congress. Australians were pivotal in developing, negotiating and ratifying the new APGF Constitution, in organising Congress and in arranging resolutions on human rights and ecological issues across our region.
The new Constitution includes a Women's Network with decision-making authority within the Federation. In addition to proposed election trainings, Congress was also the starting point for a queer activist information sharing network, strengthening anti-nuclear cooperation, a revitalised Young Greens group, arranging volunteer placement projects in Australia and more.
The International Development Committee (IDC) and International Development Officer run the Australian Greens funding program for political development in the Asia-Pacific. The IDC ramped up its activities in this financial year after federal government funding was reinstated to the program.
The IDC supports the APGF Secretariat and made Congress organising possible. In addition, the IDC and GIG provided funding support to bring up to 25 delegates from less economically developed countries to Congress, and IDC funded a training program in the Philippines. In the next financial year, we look forward to partnering with more Green Parties on capacity building projects.
Structures and motions
We're running a process in the lead-up to National Conference in November to renovate Australian Greens rules to bring them into line with APGF structures, including creating an election process for Australia's two APGF Councillors and one Member. Many states are moving to appoint two co-delegates to GIG, to increase group capacity and share the load, and the GIG Terms of Reference will be up for review shortly as well.
GIG also worked with NSW delegates on a motion regarding the situation in Kurdistan. If members would like to bring a national motion on an international issue, they can contact GIG for advice and perspectives.
Australian Greens have been active in exchanging thoughts, ideas and campaign support with Greens around the world.
Federal MPs have participated in global and Norwegian campaigns for fossil fuel divestment, joined the Greek Greens in protesting the damaging Halkidiki mine, and supported the Scottish Greens in their independence referendum campaign. State MPs, Councillors and Greens members have worked with activists overseas, visited our sister parties, cheered great election results and commiserated with parties experiencing tougher times.
These networks and all our international work over the last year have set us up well for a federal election year in which the overseas vote will be crucial, and to run and win globally networked campaigns in future.