This year hasn’t just been one of big changes for the Australian Greens – it’s been one of big wins.
By Senator Richard Di Natale
It has been a huge year in politics and the Greens have so much we can be proud of.
Firstly I must pay tribute to the tremendous legacy Christine Milne leaves behind as a giant of the Greens movement. Her contribution to our party and the country has been remarkable and I look forward to seeing what Christine does next as she is released from the shackles of electoral politics.
I was honoured in May to have been given the great privilege and responsibility of leading our party in the Australian Parliament. I will do my best to continue building upon the strong foundations that Christine and Bob have laid for our party. While I am a different messenger, our goals have not changed and our values are unwavering.
The other significant change our party has experienced over this past year is constitutional reform, making us a more robust, collaborative and truly national party. I was pleased to attend the inaugural meeting of national council as the newly elected leader, and after only a few short months the new structure is showing itself to be a success.
This past year hasn't just been a year of big changes, it's been a year of big wins. We had a fantastic result in the Victorian state election, growing the party room from three MPs to seven. Not only did the Greens win two lower house seats, we took one of them from a sitting Liberal MP. Victoria was followed by a strong result in the Queensland state election. And finally we had a great result in New South Wales, where we not only held the seat of Balmain, we won two new lower house seats, taking one from the Nationals. These results sent a tremor through the political establishment as many were forced to re-evaluate the expectations they had placed on our party.
While many things have changed over the past year, some things remain the same. The year's federal budget seemed on the face of it to be much less controversial than the previous year's but in truth it cemented many of the most brutal measures. The budget cut funding to schools, hospitals, science and research, while doing nothing to address the structural inequalities in the budget or dealing with the major challenge of the 21st century — climate change.
In contrast the Greens have been leading the way with a proactive agenda that would reduce inequality, address the revenue problem in the budget and help build the new, pollution-free 21st century economy that will support our community into the future.
The Greens released costed policies on reforming unfair superannuation tax concessions, putting an end to the distortions caused by negative gearing and capital gains taxation, and stopping fossil fuel subsidies. These reforms help address the structural inequality of our tax system while raising the money we need to invest in health, education and renewable energy.
We have announced our pollution reduction targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040, which unlike the other parties are based on science. I will be heading to Paris later this year to keep the pressure on the government and to show the rest of the world that Tony Abbott and his backward views don't represent all of us. The Greens have also played a crucial role in building momentum for issues like marriage equality, medicinal cannabis, and indigenous recognition to name just a few.
It's very sad to bid farewell to Christine Milne and Penny Wright from the Senate. Penny has been a tremendous advocate for investing in schools and mental health and is a fierce defender of human rights and the rule of law. They will both be greatly missed but I am also excited to be welcoming Nick McKim as our new Senator for Tasmania and Robert Simms for South Australia.
It's been a big year — a successful year — but we have so much work still to do. The country is crying out for leadership and only the Greens have the vision, integrity and courage to deliver. I'm proud not only to lead a team of talented MPs but a movement powered by passionate and committed members and supporters.
The next year offers us the opportunity to continue the push for a confident, caring and prosperous Australia and to build on the successes of this year. We have an election on the horizon and I relish the opportunity to take it up to Malcolm Turnbull and show the Australian people what we've got to offer.