Not only did we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Australian Greens, we also celebrated the election of Lidia Thorpe, Victoria’s first Aboriginal woman to enter their state Parliament. And of course we were inspired by the campaign being run in Queensland which could see the Greens finally enter Queensland’s Parliament.
Young talented singer Kartanya Maynard of the trawlwoolway tribe welcomed us to country with beautiful words and a song in palawa kani.
Celebrating our 25th anniversary, it was fascinating to hear from outgoing National Co-convenor, Giz Watson, about how the party came together, and the journey it’s been on over the last 25 years - a quick history lesson for some in the room no doubt. It was great to hear the stories of growing pains and the inspiration from working with so many amazing people. And Giz highlighted the lessons learned and the ones the party continues to work on with a reminder that the party is made up of incredibly talented, smart and motivated people and driven by volunteers.
And it was great to hear parliamentary party leader Senator Richard Di Natale reflect on the last 25 years, our achievements inside and outside the Parliament and what the next 25 years could look like for the Australian Greens. The night before, Senator Richard Di Natale was joined by former parliamentary party leaders, Bob Brown and Christine Milne to speak about the amazing 25 years of the Australian Greens - as committed to the party and as inspirational as ever.
There were great discussions around what we can do to green our suburbs and improve housing and the role local government plays. We heard about local government from a First Nations perspective. There were great workshops from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Common Cause and GetUp. We discussed the impact capitalism is having on society; cleaning up democracy; changing the date of Australia Day to a day that we can all come together to celebrate our nation; building diversity within the party and having more supportive environments for all members to thrive; what’s really happening to our nation’s forests; and the lowering of the voting age. It was also fascinating to hear about how Greens MPs and local councillors are working on big issues - local and global - across Australia.
We received an update on what is happening in our name to refugees and asylum seekers coming to us for help, compassion and an opportunity for a better life. It was a workshop you needed to have tissues. But it also inspired hope that our continued speaking out and activism about what’s happening in Manus is having an impact. It is shining an international light on Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
Plus it was great fun joining the local Tasmanian Greens for a rally outside Parliament House to save the takayna/Tarkine.
And it goes without saying but it has to be said, there were workshops on various federal policies currently under review.
It was a conference packed with people, ideas, energy and content. And in amidst all of this we even managed to get some less exciting administrative matters sorted like the adoption of the operational plan, dealing with the national budget and passing resolutions covering the range of topics covered at conference. (See our collection of annual reports from all office beaers and MPs for a summary of our activities over the last financial year).
The office holders elected at this year's conference to carry us into the next are:
- Co-Convenors - Alex Schlotzer (Vic) and Rebecca Galdies (Qld)
- Deputy Convenor - Giz Watson (WA)
- Secretary - Abigail Boyd (NSW)
- Deputy Secretary - Holly Ewin (Tas)
- Treasurer - Nick Cooper (Vic)
- Deputy Treasurer - David Tomlins (NSW)
- International Secretary - Viv Glance (WA)
- Policy Co-Convenors - Rod Swift (Vic) and Rosanne Bersten (Vic)
- Asia Pacific Greens Federation Councillors - Bob Hale (Vic) and Rose Read (Vic)
It is always amazing spending time with other people who are committed to and passionate about ecological sustainability, social justice, grassroots democracy and peace and nonviolence. And it’s always a great reminder about how our party has grown in the last 25 years and how much potential we have to continue to set the agenda into the future to create a greener, fairer and cleaner Australia.
Whether you were a delegate or an observer to this year’s national conference, there were plenty of reasons to find it interesting and engaging with its great many workshops - there was something for everyone. The hardest part was deciding which workshop to attend or which plenary session to check out. I might even go so far as to say that it’s the best national conference yet.
But don’t worry if you missed this one because our next National Conference will be held in May next year in Queensland so keep your eyes peeled for details about it in the new year.
We look forward to seeing you there!