By Tracy Sorensen
SYDNEY — An organisation hoping to become a national green party, the Greens, was launched here on August 30. Representatives of Queensland, NSW and Tasmanian green political groups told the media they had agreed on a national constitution and would contest elections at all levels of government.
The WA Greens are still discussing the project. Steering committees with a view to joining the group exist in Victoria and the ACT. Tasmanian MP Bob Brown predicted that groups in South Australia and the NT would come on board within two years.
A full platform of policies, with particular emphasis on job creation, would be developed before the next federal election campaign.
"We live in an age in which the world has problems the like of which have never been experienced before", Brown said. "They are human problems as well as problems for the planet; they are of our own creation, they are in our hands to solve. And we can do it."
The party was working on a full policy platform for the next federal elections, he said. "It won't be too long before on a national plane we'll be seeing policies like the business and industry strategy of the Tasmanian Greens taking the limelight."
He said environmentally friendly products could become a "multi-billion dollar industry for the rest of this decade and well into the next century.
"We need to recognise that we have to reorient our manufacturing sector to environmentally friendly produce with government being right in there to help direct that."
Grassroots democracy was at the heart of the new party, said Brown. Members of the party elected to parliament or local government would be subject to decisions of the rank and file.
The NSW Greens were "working on a formulation" which would bind parliamentarians to the policies of the groups that preselected them, said Brown. "In Tasmania and Queensland, we've allowed the ability to have a conscience vote, but you are required to answer back to the party if you vary away from the policy of the party."
WA Greens Senator Christabel Chamarette said she wanted to see the "greening of parliament". It would be good, she said, to "have company that will change the priorities that currently dominate our political agenda".
The WA Greens had "an extensive consultation process that needs to be gone through before we can officially join this group. However, we are committed to working towards joining at a later stage and we gether in the federal election that is coming up."
Queensland leader Drew Hutton said the Queensland Greens had close to 400 members in branches around the state.
"We've got activists coming to us in droves because they have heard that the Greens are gathering. I think once they hear that they have gathered across the country the way we have done this weekend, many, many more people are going to be joining us."
"We are not just here to annoy the major parties", said Illawarra Greens representative Steve Brigham. "We are here to get people elected. We are not here just to have the balance of power. We are aiming at green government."
Judy Henderson, of the Tasmanian Greens, stressed the need to encourage women to become active in politics. NSW Greens representative Anne Berriman said she was glad to see a sense of unity developing among Australian greens.