Delivering a future for all of us

In 2018 the Greens have contributed to blocking harmful laws, worked to improve legislation that became law, and helped pass important motions in the Senate.

By Senator Richard Di Natale

The past year has been an incredible one for the Greens in and out of Parliament. We’ve contributed to blocking harmful laws, worked to improve legislation that became law, and helped pass important motions in the Senate, and  through it all we’ve continued to work towards a fairer and more compassionate Australia. 

It may feel like a while ago, but standing with my colleagues and voting to pass marriage equality in Australia is still one of my most treasured memories. Starting with Bob Brown, the Greens fought tirelessly to make all love equal in Australia, and I’m so proud to have been a part of that moment. By the way, if you ever feel a twinge of nostalgia for my rainbow marriage equality sneakers, you can find them in the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra. 

The Greens also fought for justice in other ways this past year, against corporate greed and for a more caring society. We stopped Malcolm Turnbull from passing corporate tax cuts for his big business mates, ensuring essential services like hospitals, schools and childcare didn’t lose tens of billions of dollars in funding. We’ve also stopped the government from pursuing its cruel initiative to drug test welfare recipients, a policy we know for a fact doesn’t work. 

I’m also very proud of all the times we’ve set the political agenda and led the conversation on important issues throughout the past year. We caused a massive stir with our campaign to legalise cannabis for recreational use. We’ve led the discussion around legislating peoples right to die with dignity through voluntary assisted dying. We’ve been the only clear voice in Parliament calling for a coherent, environmentally responsible national waste and recycling policy. We worked with First Peoples on the campaign to change the date of our national day, negotiate for treaties and establish the Voice to parliament. The Greens have also been at the centre of crucial conversations about raising NewStart and Youth Allowance, lowering the voting age to 16 and breaking up the banks to stop their predatory behaviour. I was also incredibly pleased to see that, after years of campaigning from the Greens, we passed legislation in the Senate to stop the live export of sheep and to end the unfair tax on sanitary products. 

We’ve been at the forefront of so many issues, fighting for environmental, social and economic justice this year. The list goes on and on, and, while some of these campaigns were extremely hard fought for many years before the old parties came around, through it all we eventually see the same thing: when we lead, they follow. 

Hellos, goodbyes and new beginnings

When I think about what the Federal Greens team looked like just a few months ago, I find it pretty astonishing. This time last year we were still reeling from the loss of two incredible colleagues, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters. Now Larissa has returned to the Senate and we’ve been joined by our new colleague Mehreen Faruqi from NSW and our youngest senator Jordan Steele-John, who have settled in and already taken the Senate by storm. I’m incredibly excited to see what this team can accomplish together. 

It was also with a heavy heart that I said farewell to Lee Rhiannon after her many years of service to the Greens in the Federal and NSW Parliament. Her inexhaustible commitment to ending corporate influence over our democracy, making housing not just more accessible but a protected human right, strengthening our workers’ rights and our unions, and putting animal welfare over profit will leave an inspiring legacy for us all. Lee may have left the Parliament, but she’ll remain a powerful force for cleaning up politics, for grassroots activism, and for returning power to the people in our society. 

We have also recently said farewell to Andrew Bartlett, who stepped in as Queensland Senator when  Larissa resigned. We’re incredibly grateful to Andrew for taking on this role in uncertain circumstances, and he brought wisdom and experience to the party room as well as vigorously championing the campaign against fracking. Andrew is going on to contest the seat of Brisbane in the upcoming federal election. I know his fierce determination to protect the environment and enact progressive social change will resonate with voters, and I’m looking forward to an exciting race up north.

Working toward a future for all of us

There’s no point ignoring it or pretending otherwise: the upcoming federal election is going to be extremely tough. The old parties have taken millions in corporate money, and though their election promises may be empty their war chests are not. But while the old parties sell out to their corporate mates, the Greens are people-powered and that gives us an edge. We’re not bogged down or paralysed by what mining companies and big banks think of our policies; we’re staunchly committed to transformational reform. 

The Greens are the only major party that will stick to our principles and put power back in the peoples hands.  We have the integrity, the will and the plans to change the system and deliver a future for all of us. But to get to this better future we’ll need everyone. Everyone’s vote matters. Everyone’s effort matters. Everyone’s involvement in our democracy matters. So it’s time to get organised! Together, we can create change and a future for all of us.

I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail!