This paper presents a brief introduction to the structure, ideological underpinnings and policies of the Australian Greens, and includes a brief history of the development of Green politics internationally and in Australia.
• In 2008 the Parliamentary Library published The rise of the Australian Greens which discussed the emergence of environmental politics in Australia, analysed the characteristics of Greens’ voters, and speculated as to whether the Australian Greens party would ever be more than ‘positioned on the edge’ of mainstream politics.
• In the 2010 federal election, the Australian Greens emerged with the balance of power in the Senate and shared balance of power in the House of Representatives in the first hung federal parliament in Australia for 70 years. As a result, the ALP entered into an agreement with the Greens in order to secure the party’s commitment to a stable government during the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament.
• The increased visibility of the Australian Greens at a national level has generated greater public scrutiny and debate about the implications of the Greens’ policy agenda for Australia, and exposed a lingering confusion about the true ideological nature of the party.
• The party has a distinctive political culture and values with a ‘grassroots’ organisational structure reflecting its origins in social and environmental movements and citizen-led activism.
• The party’s federal electoral success has also highlighted the way in which the Greens are engaged in a ‘balancing act’, both externally, as a coalition partner with the Labor government and as the balance-of-power party in the Senate, and internally, between the pragmatists and idealists within its membership.
This paper updates and expands the 2008 paper. It presents a brief introduction to the structure, ideological underpinnings and policies of the Australian Greens, and includes a brief history of the development of Green politics internationally and in Australia. It focuses on the party’s electoral fortunes and parliamentary activities from 2008 to the end of the first year of the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament. It does not examine the nature, history or perceptions of other parties or individuals, except where comment is necessary in order to explain an aspect of their relationship with the Australian Greens.