BOB Brown has resigned as leader of the Australian Greens and will quit the Senate, with his former deputy Christine Milne to replace him at the helm of Australia’s third party.
Senator Brown, 67, will leave the Senate in June. The party will now seek a successor to fill his seat.
Senator Milne, who was unanimously endorsed by colleagues as Senator Brown’s successor, flagged a fresh push by the party to secure rural and regional support, and said the Greens would boost their engagement with “progressive” businesses under her leadership.
The Greens’ sole lower house representative, Melbourne MP Adam Bandt, was later elected Senator Milne’s deputy.
Senator Milne and Senator Brown said the leadership change did not alter the Greens’ minority government agreement with Labor, which had been signed by both leaders.
Senator Brown said he had been considering retiring since the last election, and finally made the decision with his partner Paul Thomas two weeks ago while attending a global Greens conference in Senegal.
“I am sad to leave but happy to go,” he said in Canberra.
“It’s a great reassurance to me that under Christine’s leadership this team will be in place.”
Predictably the Murdoch press is talking up the the difficulties they anticipate Brown’s retirement causing for the Greens. I can’t see it being that big a deal myself – he’s at a good age to retire, the transition to Milne as leader has been smooth and the existing party supporters will say thanks for the years of service, and happily move on with the job they see needing to be done. Milne obviously will need to make an impact as leader on the swinging voters who don’t know as much about her as they did about Brown, but since the Greens have always campaigned strongly on the issues even when opponents have tried to make it all about personalities, is that really going to need the Greens to do anything much different to what they’ve traditionally done?
Enjoy your quieter years, Bob Brown. You’ve deserved them.
Further Reading: Bob Brown’s formal announcement on the Greens website