Greens Western Australia
|The Greens (WA)|
|Headquarters||PO Box 3022,
(Ground Floor, 445 Hay Street)
East Perth, WA 6892
|International affiliation||Global Greens
Asia-Pacific Green Network
|Politics of Australia
The Greens Western Australia is the state branch of the Australian Greens in Western Australia. The Greens (WA) was formed following the merger of the Western Australian Green Party and the Green Earth Alliance in 1990. The Party only became officially affiliated with the Australian Greens in 2003.
There are currently two representatives of the party in the Western Australian Legislative Council: Robin Chapple, and Lynn MacLaren. However, Watson and Xamon were not re-elected at the 2013 state election. The party also has two representatives in the Australian Senate: Senator Rachel Siewert, who was elected in the 2004 election, and Scott Ludlam, who was elected to the Senate in the 2007 election.
Origins and History of Formation
The Greens (WA) grew out of the growing counter-cultural, environmental, anti-nuclear and peace, social and political concerns after the fall of the Whitlam government, particularly articulated by Jim Cairns in the Down to Earth movement that saw community sustainability emerging as an important issue. The Campaign to Save Native Forests and an environmental campaign against the Alcoa refinery at Wagerup first brought many of the activists who were later to be involved in the Greens together. The campaign in Tasmania to prevent the damming of the Franklin River, further polarised Australia on environmental issues as never before.
Anti-nuclear and peace concerns led to record numbers attending rallies in the 1980s, led by the umbrella group People Against Nuclear Disarmament, (PND). One of those peace activists, Jo Vallentine, was elected in 1994 as Senator for the Nuclear Disarmament Party, (NDP). She later left the party after its infiltration by an extreme left group and registered electorally the Jo Vallentine Peace Group in Western Australia.
Many of these activists from the peace, anti-nuclear and disarmament movements, as well as from environment, social and political groupings were to become important organisers of forthcoming political developments. Some were inspired by the West German Greens (as they then were) as well as the many successful community campaigns in WA and throughout Australia.
After the victory in saving the Gordon and Franklin Rivers in Tasmania, activists on the east coast established "Committees of Correspondence" to keep in touch and organised a "Getting Together" Conference in Sydney. At this conference there was a call to establish an Australian Greens political party for the first time. In the mid eighties there were many looking for an alternative to the Labor Party, were not satisfied with the Democrats and were disappointed after the collapse of the NDP.
Delegates who had gone to Sydney returned and became involved in organising a "Getting Together" conference in Western Australia, held at Hollywood High School, Easter 1987. This brought together various conservation and activist groups all proposing various models of alternative political organisation.
One example was the group established by Jan Jermalinski and others in the inner-city suburbs of Victoria Park and Carlisle called the Victoria Park/Carlisle Greens. In that area they stood various candidates like Georgina Motion and others in various federal and local campaigns. Two other groups modelled on the Victoria Park/Carlisle Greens, called the Western Suburbs Greens, which involved Democrats, and the Northern Suburbs Greens followed. These groups pushed the establishment, alongside, initially, The Democrats, various left parties and others, of an Alternative Coalition in 1988, which ran a campaign in the state elections.
In the south west of the state, Louise Duxbury, a peace and environmental activist, living in Denmark, stood for the State upper house as a "Green Development" candidate.
However, the name "Greens" or the actual political registration with the Federal Electoral Commission was controlled by the Sydney Greens. At this time it was not fully understood how important this was, although the name "Greens" was being used by various groups in Western Australia. This was the situation until some registered the name "The Western Australian Green Party" with permission from the Sydney Greens.
As of 1989, in terms of size, the Jo Vallentine Peace Group was by far the largest network in support, followed by Green Development in the South West. Next in size came the Alternative Coalition based mainly in the inner-city and the smallest was the Western Australian Green Party based in an office in North Fremantle, although there was a considerable overlap of activists.
Negotiations began between the four groups for unity, and therein lay the difficulty; the Western Australian Green Party controlled the registration and the others did not. For electoral purposes, the Vallentine Group, Alternative Coalition and Green Development formed a Green Alliance, later the Green Earth Alliance. The Western Australian Green Party initially declined to join.
During 1989, things were proceeding very slowly between the Western Australian Green Party and the Green Earth Alliance. The real breakthrough was probably the visit, initiated by Jo Vallentine, of Petra Kelly from the West German Greens, who gave a great speech, and the extra push was on.
A working group drafted up a democratic grass roots organisational model, consisting of regional groups based on Federal electorates and reporting to a Representatives Council; which model still exists today. With the final agreement on union, Jo Vallentine became the first Greens (WA) senator and the long drawn out process was completed.
Jo Vallentine retired from parliamentary politics in 1992, and her place was taken by Christabel Chamarette, added to with the election of a second Greens Senator in Dee Margetts. The election of Jim Scott to the State Legislative Council for the South Metropolitan Region at the next state election in 1993 gave the party its first state representative; which representation has grown over successive years.
The Greens (WA) had worked closely with the Australian Greens, but after two divisive ballots in the nineties on joining the Australian Greens were lost, they did not become formal members . Finally in September 2003, The Greens (WA) held a ballot of all the membership on the question of formally joining the Australian Greens confederation. There was an 80% vote in favour. On 11 October 2003 at the Australian Greens National Conference, the Greens (WA) were formally accepted as members of the Australian Greens."
With the collapse of the Australian Democrats, Green votes have continued to grow. In the 2009 State Election for the Seat of Fremantle Adele Carles received 45 percent of the primary vote (first preferences) to Labor's 38 percent, and 54 percent to Labor's 46 percent, after the transfer of other preferences, giving the Greens their first lower house seat and became the first Green to be elected as a state lower house member of parliament in Australia. A later scandal involving Liberal member Troy Buswell, saw Carles leaving the Greens to take the seat as an independent.
- Australian Senate: Jo Vallentine, Dee Margetts, Christabel Chamarette
- West Australian Legislative Council: Jim Scott, Chrissy Sharp, Dee Margetts, Paul Llewellyn, Giz Watson, Alison Xamon,
- West Australian Legislative Assembly: Adele Carles (currently serving as an Independent)
- Australian Senate: Rachel Siewert, Scott Ludlam
- West Australian Legislative Council: Robin Chapple, Lynn MacLaren