The lens of history


Our member-driven policy platform is one of the foundations of the participatory democracy within our party. This year has been bedding down the nearly 700 amendments recommended by last year's policy review.

By Catherine Garner and Rod Swift, National Policy Coordinators

It is arguable that policy is the lifeblood of a political party like The Australian Greens.  And while our policy platform evolves over time, its depth is rarely viewed through the lens of history — a reflection on our four core pillars and our green principles and values.

In August this year, one of our policies got thrown under that historical lens for a brief moment.

The reason? Social media was abuzz with Jacqui Lambie spruiking her support for the introduction of a Tobin-style tax. Some were claiming on social media that Senator Lambie was more progressive than The Greens!

After a few quick Facebook messages between the National Communications Coordinator and the National Policy Coordinators, we had delved deep into the history of The Greens' Global Economics policy. And we'd found evidence that a Tobin-style tax had been a Greens policy since at least 1999.

And while this research provided a great response to this social media frenzy, it also allowed the Policy Coordinators to reflect on the sheer wealth of time that has gone into the development and evolution of our national policy platform over the past 24 years.

The year that was 

This past year for the Policy Coordinating Committee has been less frenetic than that of 2015. Our work year started with a number of consensus-driven policy workshops at the November 2015 National Conference to put the finishing touches on hundreds of tweaks and dozens of new clauses to our policy suite. This resulted in the adoption by conference of nearly 700 amendments to our policy by consensus, marking by volume of changes the largest ever policy review in the party's history.

The committee also spent some time at the start of the term reflecting on the experience of the 2015 policy review, with an aim to improve processes for future review cycles. 

In the lead up to the May 2016 National Conference, the Policy Coordinating Committee recommended a small tweak to the Constitutional Reform and Democracy policy in the wake of Federal Parliament finally achieving Senate voting reforms — a long-standing policy aim of The Greens.

The primary work of the committee for the second half of its term has been conducting a review into proposed amendments to the Drugs, Substance Abuse and Addiction policy. The status of this review is nearing its completion, and the committee intends to present a proposal document for consideration at the November 2016 National Conference. 

Similarly, a small amendment to the Disability policy is flagged, reflecting the recent re-establishment of a dedicated Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

Process and passion

The year ahead for the committee looks likely to include policy work on animals and economics, along with planning for the next national policy review.

As in previous years, the success of the Australian Greens Policy Coordinating Committee comes from the dedicated hard work of state, territory and party room delegates in being the conduit between the committee, party room, state bodies, branches and members. All delegations continue to work hard to run comprehensive consultation and feedback processes to allow our policy process to thrive.

Equally, the committee continues to work with a spirit of genuine consensus decision making. As was the case in 2015, delegations to the committee work to actively consider proposals on the basis of merit and evidence, leading often to a merging of like-minded proposals to craft the best policy proposals and amendments. The evidence of this collaboration was first exemplified in the 2015 policy review process and has continued into this year's reviews.

It is not possible to overstate the incredible amount of work done by all committee members, listed here. It continues to be a great pleasure to work with such dedicated individuals without whom this committee, and our policy development, could not function.

  • Catherine Garner, Rod Swift — National Policy Coordinators
  • Georgia Webster, Rod Goodbun — Party Room representatives
  • Patrick Tobin — ACT representative
  • Damiya Hayden — NSW representative
  • Ian Clow — QLD representative
  • Sarah Moulds — SA representative
  • Scott Jordan — TAS representative
  • Sean Mulcahy, Rod Swift — VIC representatives
  • Mark Cooper — WA representative

If you are interested in finding out more about the ongoing policy development work of the Australian Greens, you can contact your state representatives or the AGPCC convenors directly at