What a big year!


2016 was a big year — many wins, a number of near-misses and a few losses — in particular the loss of Rob Simms as a Senator for South Australia and the death of the much-loved NSW MP John Kaye. 

By Giz Watson and Penny Allman-Payne

The election year

Another big year has flown by! If it seems like a lot of the year was taken up with the Federal election campaign — the campaign without end — that's because it was!

This election was the first major 'road-testing' of the National Council (NC). We started by establishing a Campaign Management Team (CMT) from within the NC. The CMT started meeting back in February and we are still working to oversee the comprehensive evaluation of the campaign.

It is worth reflecting that despite a mood of ambiguity around our election results we still achieved the majority of our stated aims. So there is cause for celebration and optimism despite any premature and predictable critical comments from the mainstream media.

We were, of course, very sad to see Rob Simms miss out on election in SA and acknowledge this was always going to be a big stretch. Also there is no doubt that we need to do some careful analysis and frank evaluation about how close the results were for us in the Senate and the failure to increase our representation in NSW and Queensland.

A preliminary look at the evaluation feedback from key people in the campaign indicates we did pretty well, particularly in our internal cohesion and engaging more people than ever in field campaigning. There was a great emphasis on training and capacity building with many, many people to thank for their extraordinary efforts. We have taken a number of seats to a winnable position for the next federal election. Notably Melbourne Ports, Batman, Wills, Higgins and Richmond. Yes, we do need to carefully consider how we message and emphasise the importance of the Senate so the next result isn't so nail-biting! Also, the next challenge for us is to retain the interest, energy and financial support that we have generated and to respond to the results of the evaluation.

This Federal election was always going to be the first 'road-testing' of the National Council and the restructured Australian Greens and we believe we should be pleased with the result.

There are, as always, additional challenges for us as political party and for our Parliamentarians to consider, for example responding to the reappearance of extremist politics in the form of One Nation and more broadly to the significant anti-major-party vote (more than 20 per cent) and general anger and disillusion with politics.

Not wanting to lose any time the National Council has moved straight into developing a new three-year strategic plan and everyone's best thinking is being called on and will be needed to reflect on what we've been doing and what we can do better — whether that's party administration or political outcomes. Please participate fully in this vital planning process!

Farewell John Kaye

It was with sadness that we acknowledged the death of NSW State MP, John Kaye, in May this year. To quote Wendy Bacon's obituary in New Matilda: “A trailblazing MP, John Kaye has been remembered for his intelligence, energy, and commitment to the public good. NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye died aged 60 this week after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer earlier this year.

John was an engineer who did a doctorate on renewable energy long before climate change became the massive issue that it is today. He was a unionist and tireless supporter of public education at every level. Since 2007, he has been a Greens Legislative Councillor in the NSW Parliament.”

It is important to honour our comrades in their passing and we encourage those of you who may not have known John and his work to look at his impressive contribution not only to the Greens but also to politics in NSW.

Thanking Penny — from Giz

It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with Penny over the past two years. Penny has contributed hugely to the successful operation of the Australian Greens from her excellent facilitation to her oversight of staff and HR matters for AG employees and much in between! The job of convening an organisation as large and dispersed as ours is considerable and I doubt could be done effectively by one person even if they undertook it full time. It has been a great experience to work together as co-convenors requiring much communication, mutual trust, attention to detail and clarity around roles. I trust we made a good team!

Just by way of acknowledging the work that Penny has put in, here's the checklist from our job description of what the co-convenors do:

  • The Co-Convenors must at all times have the best interests of the Australian Greens as their primary concern.  
  • We work closely with the National Manager, other Office Bearers, AG staff, Party Room, MPs and their staff, working groups and National Council.
  • We keep ourselves informed of issues of debate within the Party and in the public realm, being vigilant for any potential threats to the Party's functioning and standing.  
  • It has also been the role of the Co-Convenors to inquire into and attempt to resolve sensitive Party matters/disputes and to address member or Member Body grievances.
  • We facilitate national meetings and are also ex-officio members of all AG working groups, with the responsibility for participation in each working group being divided between the Co-convenors. We participate to provide advice and ensure good communication within the party.
  • In conjunction with the other AG Office Bearers we ensure that the decisions of National Council are implemented.

We participate and take a significant role in:

  • national election campaign strategy and planning
  • monitoring membership numbers and participation
  • fundraising and finances
  • governance and legal obligations
  • media, communications and public relations
  • the oversight of staff and HR matters for AG employees
  • initiating and facilitating any quick decisions of National Council
  • supporting and facilitating good communication and good working relationships within the Party and between the Party and the Party Room.

All that and Penny has a full-time day job too!