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Coming of Age? The Australian Greens and the 2010 Election

Kate Crowley
University of Tasmania.
Kate Crowley
University of Tasmania.
Open Panel

Abstract

Australia is well regarded for its ecological identity, however the political expression of this at the national level has lagged well behind Europe in particular. In 2010, the Australian Greens had their first representative directly elected to Australia’s lower House of Assembly where their nationwide vote was 18%. They also achieved the balance of power in the Australian Senate where their nationwide vote was 12.9% and where their influence will be now considerable. In addition, the Greens carried the biggest party swings in each state and territory except one, swings between 3% and 5.5%. Following the election, they negotiated and a signed an agreement to support a Labor minority government in power. These considerable achievements lag behind those of their green counterparts in Europe, Scandinavia and New Zealand. This paper examines the hypothesis that the Australian Greens may now have come of age, two decades after their formation, but four long decades after the world’s first green party was founded in the Australian state of Tasmania. It traces the inspirations for and emergence of both the nation’s ecological identity and the Australian Greens, reviews the 2010 election results, considers the potential policy impact of the Greens, and situates their ‘coming of age’ and Australia’s cultural greening in a comparative context.