Bob Brown retires; Christine Milne now Greens leader

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

Categories: culture wars, parties and factions

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10 replies

  1. Yes, my sense has always been of Brown as someone who happened to be the spokeperson for a group with shared ideas, much more so than the larger parties where the leader has to be seen to lead.

  2. A minor quibble to some, but an important distinction to me, Milne is now the leader of the Federal Parliamentary Party (the party room really), not the party proper. I think is also part of the reason this is not the disaster that some will want to make of it.

  3. Oh my grammar! Please correct me!
    [ done 😉 ~ mods]

  4. When I heard this on the radio, they (of course) took a soundbite from Tony Abbott.
    Something like “Well, I think Bob Brown was more like the the prime minister than the primer minister is. He’s been a strong influence and and done a tough job.” Then, perhaps thinking this was too positive, said; “He however, went too far on many things. Much farther than perhaps reasonable”.

  5. “Well, I think Bob Brown was more like the the prime minister than the primer minister is…for a start he has a willy, which is really important when you are Prime Minister, I mean otherwise how can anyone take you seriously? Even better if it has been showcased in the media in say red speedos. He’s been a strong influence and and done a tough job…I mean now some people really think that the Greens are a credible party even. The only other person to pull such a stunt is the Leader of the Oppos…But, ummm, He however, went too far on many things. Much farther than perhaps reasonable. Yes that’s it. Whew that was a close one. /snark
    [What he really meant]
    I don’t think we will be seeing Bob Brown in the media snarking about the new Greens leadership and where they are going wrong somehow the way ex Labor members seem to like to put the boot in. I don’t doubt that the media will be trying their best to get him to say something and spinning madly but Bob Brown is a wily fox. Unless of course Lee Rhiannon gets the leadership somehow, then all bets are off.

  6. News Limited, of course, have run with a truly obnoxious angle on the story: “ONE of the chief architects of the carbon tax, Greens Leader Bob Brown, will pull the pin on his political career just as the unpopular climate change policy he demanded begins slugging households across the country.”

  7. @Mindy Yes, that is what I got from the radio snippet. that he was saying [Bob Brown] was really more like the PM, because unlike the PM, HE IS A MAN.

  8. Rhiannon isn’t after the leadership. The media have used the idea of leadership struggle between Rhiannon and Brown as a digestible alternative to what were ultimately subtle differences of opinion. Leadership struggle is so much more soundbitey than in depth analysis of neo-liberal economics and class issues.

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