Green politics in Australia was initially focused around its smallest state, the island of Tasmania, 25 years ago. Why Tasmania? Through a happy accident of circumstances. A sparkling wilderness environment, relatively undamaged. A "proportional representation" electoral system that allows for minority representation. A population that is (mostly) young in heart. And a succession of inspiring personalities who have led the struggle over the years.
The Greens were formed in 1972 at a tumultuous public meeting to save this nation's most stunning natural treasure, Lake Pedder, a large wilderness lake with an immense pink quartzite beach, surrounded by mountains and pristine wilderness.
The Greens were formed in 1972 at a tumultuous public meeting to save this nation's most stunning natural treasure, Lake Pedder.
That issue was lost, a terrible tragedy. But the Greens went on to campaign for Tasmania's threatened wilderness, eventually gaining representation in 1983 with the election of Bob Brown in the midst of an immense campaign to save the wild Franklin River. This campaign was won and created such a ruckus that it caused the overthrow of the sitting state government. The Franklin Dam was ordered to be stopped (just as it was getting under way) by the High Court of Australia.
The seeds of the Tasmanian Greens were thus sown in the wilderness but, thanks to the extraordinary vision of their founder, Richard Jones, Green politics was founded on a holistic and multi-faceted program-built around the idea of "interconnectedness." More Greens were elected to the Tasmanian parliament during the ensuing decade until they gained a balance of power in 1989. They are currently led by an inspiring woman, Christine Milne, who was relatively unknown until she took on forest giant North Broken Hill Pty Ltd, and managed to stopped a massive polluting pulp mill project. It was a classic "David and Goliath" story.
Nationally we now have two Greens elected to the Australian Senate (upper house)-one from Tasmania and one from Western Australia (the equivalent of your Texas).
In four legislatures they are in a balance-of-power situation, giving them considerable influence on policy.
In all there are now 12 Greens elected to various Australian legislatures. Eight of them are women. In four legislatures they are in a balance-of-power situation, giving them considerable influence on policy.
The Australian Greens are a confederation of state parties, established only recently (1992). Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory are the only two legislatures elected by proportional representation, so Greens are most successful in those places. The national senate also uses this system of elections.
Although the Tasmanian Greens have been immersed in wilderness controversy, during their 13 years of representation their biggest legislative successes have been in the area of improving democratic systems and in social policy. However, they have been at the forefront of protecting one fifth of the State-now reserved as world heritage wilderness and national park.
Green reps from these three countries are now working together to try to put a stop to the transport of nuclear wastes through international waters in our area of the Pacific.
Our two national politicians (Senators) have made links with the newly elected New Zealand Greens (there are three of them elected under a complex proportional representation system) and Taiwanese Green politicians. Green reps from these three countries are now working together to try to put a stop to the transport of nuclear wastes through international waters in our area of the Pacific. No doubt other connecting issues will arise.
Here in Tasmania we are helping Japanese native people, the Ainu, in their struggle for indigenous rights. They have been inspired by the recent successes of Tasmanian Aboriginals. Tasmania is infamous for its early history where the then administration attempted to wipe out the state's Aboriginal population. This deliberate act of genocide was partially successful, in that no full blooded aboriginals survived in Tasmania and their culture is largely lost. But their descendants have since been very successful in gaining recognition and rights and building up their solidarity. So the Greens here have been very active in assisting the link with Japanese indigenous people who are so inspired by our local situation.