Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt has been chosen as the new leader of the Australian Greens, in a party room ballot undertaken on Tuesday morning following the surprise announcement by Richard Di Natale that he intends to retire from politics.
Queensland senator Larissa Waters retains her position as one of the co-deputy leaders of the party and will be joined by Tasmanian senator Nick McKim who emerges as a successful, albeit unexpected, contender for the co-deputy leadership position.
Upon winning the leadership ballot, Bandt immediately issued a call for a ‘green new deal‘ to be developed for Australia, mirroring the same proposal that has been pushed by progressive Democrats in the United States, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“We are in the middle of a climate emergency and long running jobs and inequality crises. People are angry and anxious because the government has no plan for the big problems facing the country. This is why Australia needs a Green New Deal,” Bandt said on Twitter.
“A Green New Deal means government leading the country in transforming our economy, creating new jobs and industries powered by clean energy and delivering universal services like dental into Medicare and genuinely free education. This is what I will be fighting for.”
It immediately flags Bandt’s intention to re-focus the Greens agenda on climate action, renewable energy investment and the transition to a sustainable economy.
“The two elements of a Green New Deal – government taking the lead to create new jobs and industries, and universal services to ensure no-one is left behind – are the values I have been fighting for my whole adult life,” Bandt said in an email sent to Greens members following the ballot.
“With a Green New Deal we can create new jobs by inspiring a manufacturing renaissance and turning Australia into a renewable energy superpower. We can get dental fully covered under Medicare. We make public schools genuinely free.”
Bandt criticised the response over the summer by prime minister Scott Morrison, who he dubbed “Scotty from Marketing”, to the bushfire crisis and the role of climate change.
“I refuse to accept the dismal standard of this rotten government led by Scotty from marketing, a man whose love of coal has helped make these terrible fires worse, and a Labor so-called opposition that celebrates coal in the middle of bushfires and votes with the Liberals to give tax cuts to millionaires,” Bandt said.
Adam Bandt entered the parliament in 2010, winning the lower house seat of Melbourne, and has served as the sole Greens member of the House of Representatives since 2010. Before entering parliament, Bandt worked as a public interest and industrial relations lawyer, including with firm Slater and Gordon.
Bandt’s elevation of the leadership sees Bandt become the first lower house member to lead the party, and moves the leadership position out of the senate for the first time.
Larissa Waters will take on the party leadership in the Senate chamber.
Nick McKim will move into a party leadership position for the first time. McKim joined the federal senate in 2015, following the retirement of former Greens leader Christine Milne.
McKim previously served as the leader of the Tasmanian Greens, serving in the state parliament between 2002 and 2015 and served as a minister in the Bartlett and Giddings governments.
Bandt was elected as party’s fourth federal parliamentary leader uncontested, continuing a tradition within the federal Greens party room of transitioning the party leadership without a contested election.
However, the election of the co-deputy leadership position was contested, with South Australian senator Sarah Hanson-Young and New South Wales senator Mehreen Faruqi also nominating for the co-deputy leadership positions.
Hanson-Young said that she hoped to serve alongside Queensland senator Larissa Waters, who also said she hoped to remain in one of the co-deputy leadership positions, but Hanson-Young was ultimately unsuccessful.
New South Wales senator Mehreen Faruqi said ahead of the meeting suggested that the Federal Greens should consider moving to a co-leadership arrangement, as has been commonplace in overseas greens parties, including in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Faruqi also unsuccessfully nominated for one of the deputy leadership positions.
There has also been a wider push from with the Greens party membership to a shift to allowing party members to participate in the election of the federal party leadership, a view also expressed by Faruqi, instead of leaving it as a vote solely for the party room.
I have consistently supported Greens members having a democratic say in our party leadership and called for co-leaders.
Selecting our new leader is a great opportunity to democratically involve members in the process. The party should be doing just that for this ballot.
— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) February 3, 2020
Such a model has already been implemented by the federal Labor party, who allow the party’s membership to provide 50 per cent of the vote towards electing the new parliamentary leader.
Following his election by the party room, Bandt said that he supported including Greens members in the process of choosing the party’s leader, which is likely to be considered by a Greens National Conference in May.
Former leader Richard Di Natale indicated that he would resign from the senate, leaving parliament altogether once a replacement has been selected by the Victorian branch of the party. The transition is expected to occur by mid-year.
More to come.