Division hits Queensland greens

June 26, 1991

By Maurice Sibelle and Karen Fletcher

BRISBANE — At a meeting of the Queensland Green Network on June 16, members of the Rainbow Alliance, supported by members of the Australian Democrats and the New Left Party, split the green political movement in this city by moving to exclude all members of political parties from moves to form a national green party.

In what appears to have been a carefully planned operation, Rainbow Alliance members attended in large numbers and voted as a bloc. A number had not previously attended QGN meetings.

A more honest motion would have been to exclude all parties except the Rainbow Alliance, which, at least in Brisbane, is a party in all but name. Rainbow leader Drew Hutton opened the meeting with a prepared speech defending his lack of consultation with the network over moves for a green national party. He made wild and untrue accusations against the Democratic Socialist Party, claiming it had held a secret meeting at which it resolved to smash any emerging green party.

The division is particularly unfortunate, coming soon after a very successful local government election campaign in which green candidates attracted between 7% and 20% of the vote. The campaign had united all shades of green opinion as well as socialists, community activists and Australian Democrats.

Since the election, members of the QGN had expressed dissatisfaction with top-down moves for a national meeting towards formation of a green party. Drew Hutton had been one of five self-declared conveners of the proposed meeting. The elected office bearers of the QGN had written to express disapproval of the lack of grassroots democracy in preparations and proposals for the meeting. On his own admission, Hutton participated in these preparations with no authority from, or obligation to, QGN or any green organisation.

The Rainbow Alliance bloc proposed a three-phase process towards a national green party:

1. A meeting in Sydney in August to determine registered "ownership" of the word "Green" for electoral purposes, and to settle a proposed structure for the "Australian Greens". Members of parties to be excluded from this meeting.

2. State and regional meetings to discuss the Sydney proposals. Members of parties might be permitted to speak but not vote.

3. A national meeting in November 1991 to form the "Australian Greens", from which other parties would be proscribed.

Asked by a non-affiliated green activist what had changed since the local government elections, Hutton made no reply.

Issue