Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Australian Greens is the national Greens party in Australia. It was formed as a coalition of the various state Greens parties, although the Greens (Western Australia) preserved a separate identity for some time. At the federal level there are two Greens in the Australian Senate (Senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle), and in July 2005 they will be joined by Senators-elect Christine Milne from Tasmania and Rachel Siewert from Western Australia. There was one MP in the Australian House of Representatives (Michael Organ), who was elected at a by-election in 2002, but he lost his seat at the 2004 elections. The Australian Greens do not have a formal leadership, but Senator Brown of Tasmania is treated in the media as the party's leader.
Currently there are Green members in the parliaments of Western Australia (2), Tasmania (4), New South Wales (2), the Australian Capital Territory (2) and South Australia (1). The Greens have gained some support since 2001 at the expense of the Australian Democrats and to some extent the Australian Labor Party.
On 23 October 2003 Brown and Nettle were suspended from the Parliament for 24 hours when they both separately interjected during an address by the visiting President of the United States, George W. Bush.
Although the Greens see themselves as representing a "new politics" which is distinct from the traditional categories of "left" and "right", they are seen by many Australians as a "left-wing" or radical party, and have become the party which attracts most of the left-wing vote. At the 2001 federal election, many left-wing supporters of the Australian Labor Party, including many party members, voted for the Greens as a protest against their own party's policies on asylum seekers.
In the 2004 Federal election the Greens' primary vote rose by around 2%, to an average of around 7%. This won them two additional Senate seats (taking the total to four), but the success of the Howard government in winning a majority in the Senate meant that the Greens' influence on legislation would actually decrease.
Additionally, the 2004 election saw an intense media campaign from the christian-influenced conservative Family First Party, including a television advertisement labelling them the "Extreme Greens". The other main left-of-centre parties directed their vote preferences to Family First before the Greens resulting in a loss of the usual flow of votes from the Australian Democrats and the ALP. An example of this is where Victorian candidate Steve Fielding was elected on preferences, despite being outpolled by the Australian Greens' David Risstrom by a ratio of more than four to one first-preference votes. Christine Milne also only narrowly gained her seat before a Family First candidate, even though she received 14,897 primary votes, compared to Family First's Jacquie Petrusma's 1,514.
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