We have had a good year in the Australian Greens at the national level – a good year, but not a great year.
By Christine Cunningham and Penny Allman-Payne
We have had a good year in the Australian Greens at the national level; a good year but not a great year. We have witnessed wonderful highs, such as:
- The re-election of Senator Scott Ludlam and the opportunity it gave us to further develop our election campaign skills beyond those we were able to manage in the 2013 election proper; and
- Watching newly elected Senator Janet Rice as she bicycled to Canberra to start her six year term and then gave a wonderful, possum-inspired maiden speech in the red chamber.
On the low side, we are witnessing the frightening reality of an Abbott-led Coalition where we have lost the balance of power in the Senate. We have seen these political circumstances decimate environmental policies, including the carbon price, mining tax and the renewable energy target that we took so much time in developing, negotiating and legislating into reality.
Still, we choose to see the glass as half full and so keep up our hope and our optimism that change will come.
We have given so much of our time as co-convenors of our party to ensure the smooth running of our national organisation. And we have done this happily because we strongly believe in the power of participating as active members of a political party to help change the world.
The co-convenor model has again worked successfully and we are very pleased that this shared leadership model is proving in practice to be effective for the party wing. We have participated with interest in the discussions and negotiations for constitutional change relating to leadership models for our Parliamentary wing and we hope that one of our legacies will be a change in our leadership structures – which ultimately proves to be a model structure that is emulated in a more democratic future Australian parliament.
A major focus of our work for the party this year has been the constitutional change process that we hope will reach its zenith at this year’s National Conference. Extensive consultations and negotiations have created the opportunity to agree upon a new constitution that will enable us to grow and strengthen our party for decades to come. We realise we are putting a lot of faith in the idea that constitutional changes will translate into practical solutions to the growing pains we have been experiencing in governance. Only time will tell if this bears out, but a party of consensus should be able to rise to the occasion.
We have strived to run the party as close to the principles of our Greens’ Charter as possible and to be the best employers and the best managers of volunteer staff as we could. In the incredibly tight current fiscal situation, it has been extremely hard to do this and all of us in the party must get better at treating our national employees with the respect and courtesy that our hard working, professional and inspiring staff deserve.
Finally, our thanks must go to the incredible bunch of talented members of the Australian Greens Coordinating Group (AGCG) who have made our role as co-convenors effective and enjoyable.