The Greens (WA)
- 2010-2011 Annual Report
- Meet Us
- 2012 Training Calendar
- In The WA Legislative Council
- In The Australian Senate
- The Greens - a unique history of firsts
- How We Work
The Greens in WA moved into their 21st year with solid support from members and dedicated work by our elected Members of Parliament. The 2010-2011 Annual Report gives a overview of the work undertaken by members from elections campaigns, policy building and on the ground activism. For a view of the work done by our Parliamentarians read on and follow the links to each of the MP's websites or review the issues of the Greens (WA) newsletter - Green Issue.
The Greens (WA) is a member of the Australian Greens, one of the many Green political parties worldwide. Green parties have an expansive vision that challenges the narrow economic focus of the major parties. Green parties are often misrepresented as single issue parties. However, our vision of the future is based on the four interconnecting pillars of social justice, ecological sustainability, peace and nonviolence, and participatory democracy.
The Greens (WA) was established in 1990 following the merger of the WA Green Party and the Green Earth Alliance, which was itself the product of an earlier merger between the Alternative Coalition, the Vallentine Peace Group and Green Development. All these groups drew inspiration from the West German Greens (as they then were) as well as the many successful community campaigns in WA and throughout Australia.
The Greens (WA) worked closely with the Australian Greens but did not become formal members until 2003 when The Greens (WA) held a ballot of all the membership on the question of formally joining the Australian Greens confederation. There was an eighty per cent vote in favour. On the 11th of October 2003 at the Australian Greens National Conference the Greens (WA) were formally accepted as members of the Australian Greens.
The Greens (WA) act as a voice for the community. We believe that no one has a monopoly on the answers and that no one should have a monopoly on decision making. The radical expansion of democracy, a cornerstone of Green politics, is about bringing people into the political process, putting decisions in the hands of those affected and giving the community a voice.
The essence of the Green vision is the interconnectedness of issues. The healing of many issues such as our rural environmental crisis, disenfranchisement of young people, injustice against indigenous people, family disintegration, unemployment and many others will only happen when we recognise that these issues are all interconnected. The path to creative solutions is to address these issues as a whole and not in isolation.
There are four Greens MPs sitting in the Legislative Council
Member for East Metropolitan: 2009–present
Alison is the first Greens member to have been successfully elected to represent the East Metropolitan Region in the West Australian Parliament. Alison was elected in 2008 and took her seat on May 22 2009.
Prior to taking her seat in Parliament Alison worked for many years in the union movement for both white and blue collar unions. In her time in the union movement Alison worked as an Organizer, Industrial Officer, Women’s Officer and Equal Opportunity specialist, and finally as a lawyer.
In addition to being a lawyer, Alison is also a trained playleader, and worked in the field of non-formal education, including dealing with children identified as being “at-risk”. In her early years she was also the Education Vice President and then Guild President for the Murdoch University Student Guild.
A social justice and environmental campaigner for over two decades, Alison has been involved in numerous activist campaigns in everything from forests and nuclear disarmament, to education, health and human rights campaigns. She has also sat on numerous Boards within the Community Legal sector and is passionate about both public interest law and the right for people to access justice.
Alison hopes to be a part of creating a sustainable economic and environmental future able to withstand the challenges of climate change. She has a particular interest in giving voice to those least able to defend themselves, whether they be those dealing with mental illness, children, those struggling with poverty, or workers trying to get a fair go at work.
A long time resident of the East Metropolitan region, Alison was born in Mundaring and grew up in the “flatlands” of the East Metropolitan region where she still lives.
She is married with 3 beautiful children that she adores.
Alison's portfolio areas are: Water: Urban Bushland; Mental Health; Education; Training; Industrial Relations; Employment; Occupational Health & Safety; Disabilities; Women, Children & Youth, Public Service; Community Services; Electoral Affairs; Consumer Protection; Veterans Affairs; Volunteering.
Alison's inaugural speech - Click here
Member for North Metropolitan: 1997–present
One of WA's inaugural '100 women of the century', Giz Watson has a degree in Environmental Science as well a Trade Certificate in carpentry and joinery.
She has been the member for North Metropolitan Region since 1997. Giz was the first openly lesbian parliamentarian in Australia and she played a key role in lesbian and gay law reform in Western Australia in 2002. Legislation that granting gay and lesbian couples the same rights as de facto couples, particularly progressive in terms of their rights as parents. Her interests in ecology, peace and social justice have been expressed in issues like urban bushland, community housing, opposition to the arms trade, gay and lesbian rights
Giz Watson was at the anti-Vietnam war rallies in the 1970s and was active in the first direct action campaign in WA against clear felling of jarrah forests for bauxite mining.
She has been at the forefront of resisting national and international attempts to dump nuclear waste in Western Australia, and to prevent uranium mining in this State. Her efforts saw several local councils pass motions opposing the transport, processing and/or storage of non-medical nuclear materials in their local areas. In 1992 Giz became one of only three women registered builders in Western Australia and subsequently ran her own business. In the UK, Giz trained nonviolent direct action groups for peace camps. These peace camps were instrumental in the removal of US nuclear missiles from the UK.
In Parliament Giz has been at the forefront of justice issues defending the rule of law and civil liberties. She chairs the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations which deals with any matter relating to the financial administration of the State as well as the budget estimates .
In 2011 Giz was recognised amongst 100 "Women of the Century" for her work in parliament and in the gay and lesbian community, and she was inducted into the WA Women's Hall of Fame.
Her portfolio areas are: agriculture, biodiversity, environment, finance and economics, fire and emergency services, fisheries and marine, forests, health, justice and prisons, multicultural issues, police, south west region, sports and recreation. Current issues include accountable government (such as regulation of paid lobbyists, a cap on election expenditure, enquiries where corruption or waste appears to have occurred); climate change (no new coal fired power stations and a shift to renewable energy); human rights (for example over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the criminal justice system; mandatory sentencing; prison over-crowding; stop and search powers; and prohibitive behaviour orders).
Member for South Metropolitan: 2005, 2009–present
Journalist, small business woman and policy officer in the community sector, Lynn MacLaren is now member for South Metropolitan Region. Lynn is an advocate for better urban design, has long opposed the live animal export trade and is working with farmers and consumers to keep Western Australia free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). She has several years experience as an electorate and research officer.
Lynn used her experience working in a California daily newspaper in journalism and photojournalism to establish a small business in WA as a desktop publisher and technical writer. She was a Senior Policy Officer with the Western Australian Council of Social Service and worked as a trainer/consultant in strategic planning and capacity building in the community sector. Lynn has also undertaken project work with a variety of organisations, including the Environmental Defender's Office, the Community Housing Coalition of WA, the Education Department and the Water Authority. In the mid 1990s Lynn was prominent in the campaign to put live animal exports on the public agenda and was the foundation President of the People Against Cruelty in Animal Transport (Inc) serving also on the executive board of Animals Australia.
Lynn was elected to the Legislative Council on 6 September 2008 for the term beginning on 22 May 2009. She previously held the seat from February to May 2005 upon the retirement of Jim Scott, MLC. In parliament Lynn has advocated for better urban planning, more affordable housing options and continued to oppose the live animal trade. Lynn highlighted that in its first voyage to Egypt from Fremantle in mid-2009, 266 cattle and 320 sheep died on the world's newest multi-million dollar livestock ship. "A local halal-accredited chilled meat trade would eliminate this cruelty and create local jobs - New Zealand did it and so can we." Lynn has campaigned for many years to keep Western Australia free from genetically modified organisms in our ecosystems and food supply. Alongside her federal counterparts Lynn has lobbied for truth in labelling to facilitate choice, not only for health reasons but also to reveal farming practices and the presence of genetically modified ingredients.
Lynn's portfolios are Animals; Commerce and Small Business; Culture & the Arts; Food; GMOs; Heritage; Housing; Planning; Science & Innovation; Seniors; Sexuality; Social Inclusion/Poverty; Tourism; and Transport.
Member for Mining & Pastoral Region: 2001–2005, 2009–present
With a background in engineering, Aboriginal community development, local government, and mining, Robin Chapple is well qualified to represent the vast Mining and Pastoral Region. Chief among his concerns are the controversial Browse LNG development proposed for James Price Point north of Broome, uranium mines planned for the Goldfields, brown coal extraction and fracking projected for the Kimberley, Indigenous health and housing and the occupational health and safety of miners throughout the state.
Robin was born in the United Kingdom and migrated to Australia in 1974. In the 1970s and 1980s he worked in various Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory and for the Water Authority and BHP in Port Hedland. He was a Port Hedland Town Councillor for seven years and chaired the 1988 inaugural North West Games, the largest regional games ever held in Australia. He was co-founder of L.E.A.F. (Local Environment Affinity Force) and took an active role in paper recycling, tree planting and providing comment on developments proposed for the region.
He established Chapple Research and provided the community with impartial environmental and social impact information and advice. He was employed as coordinator of the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia for a number of years, campaigning against the establishment of a uranium mining industry in WA and the proposed Pangea international nuclear waste dump. Robin’s portfolios are: Energy & Climate Change; Mines and Petroleum; State Development & Industry; Nuclear Energy; Local Government; Waste Management; Ports; Pastoral Issues; Aboriginal Issues; Racing and Gaming; Regional Sustainability.
Robin is campaigning for world heritage listing for the Dampier Archipelago and Burrup Peninsula rock art and he has raised the need for remediation of mine sites at Youno Downs Station near Wiluna with the Minister. Despite support from three-quarters of Western Australians, Robin’s Voluntary Euthanasia Bill, introduced in 2002 and again in 2009, was defeated. He has plans to propose a ‘gross feed-in tariff’ for renewable energy based on models from Germany, Denmark and Spain during the current term of Parliament. Since Germany introduced a gross feed-in tariff in 2000, the share of renewable energy has tripled from 5.4% to more than 16% and more than 300,000 people are employed in their renewable energy industry. Compared with the ‘net feed in tariffs’ in operation in Australia, the gross feed in tariff pays electricity producers for all the electricity generated, thus stimulating investment by businesses.
WA Senator: 2005 - present
Sixteen years as the Coordinator of the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Rachel led the Green charge against the Government’s unpopular WorkChoices, Welfare to Work laws and the Northern Territory Intervention. During the Montara oil spill off the North West Australian coast in 2009, Rachel was one of the first to see the magnitude of the crisis first-hand and launched calls for a full inquiry into the disaster.
Rachel has quickly gained a reputation as an assertive and hard working member of the Senate. She has been a champion of the environment, with marine conservation, whaling, water and Natural Resource Management high on the agenda. As a result of a succession of offshore oil spills, Rachel believes it is clear that changes to legislation regulating offshore oil and gas production, together with better enforcement, is required. The oil spill also highlighted the need for a system of marine protected areas around our coast, although federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson approved 31 new offshore oil exploration leases around Australia, including an area 85km off the coast of Margaret River in WA. Rachel is currently working on this as well as introducing much needed reforms and improvements to aged care services, increasing funding for mental health and preventive health measures nationwide and improving the opportunities and life expectancy of Indigenous Australians. Rachel successfully negotiated $50 million for health promotion in the ‘Alcopops’ legislation and developed policies for the improvement of Australia’s health, aged care and community services sectors.
Rachel's portfolio responsibilities are Family, Community & Disability Services; Fisheries & Marine; Ageing; Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander Issues;
Indigenous Health; Agriculture; The Kimberley & Northern Australia and Natural Resource Management.
WA Senator: 2008-present
Senator Scott Ludlam is an Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia with a penchant for sustainability. Elected in November 2007, he is one of nine Australian Greens Senators in the current Parliament and, together, they have established a track record of positive, solution-focused negotiations with all parties in Parliament.
Scott is the Australian Greens' spokesperson for Broadband, Communications & the Digital Economy; Housing; Nuclear Issues; Transport; Sustainable Cities; Waste Management, Mining in WA and Burma.
Scott was a leading voice against the Federal Government's attempt to censor the internet with its mandatory net filter, and moved amendments to better secure public ownership of the National Broadband Network.
As part of the economic stimulus package, Scott helped secure $60 million for heritage, $50 million for bicycle paths and extended funding for local governments. He also negotiated the rescue of the National Rental Affordability Scheme when the Government proposed to abolish it as part of the flood levy negotiations. He was able to improved legislation to increase transparency of the National Independent Terror Legislation Monitor.
A dedicated and effective participant in the Committee process, Scott initiated the nation’s first in-depth inquiry into public transport as well as an inquiry into the justice system and how it is failing some members of the community. He has also been probing radiation leaks and water contamination at the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory, as well as ongoing radiation safety concerns at Australia’s only nuclear facility at Lucas Height.
Scott is continuing to pursue legislation that would require parliamentary approval for sending Australian troops to war. The Greens are the only party in parliament calling for our troops to be brought home from the never-ending war in Afghanistan.
As Greens spokesperson on nuclear issues, Scott has led opposition in Canberra against attempts to impose a radioactive waste dump on an unwilling community near Tennant Creek in the NT. He is a member of the Australian Parliamentarians for Democracy in Burma.
A film maker, artist and graphic designer by trade, Scott created a compelling 30-minute documentary in 2007 on why nuclear energy is not the solution to climate change, titled ‘Climate of Hope'. Recognising Australia's need to switch to a low carbon economy, Scott aims to ensure that all Western Australians benefit from the jobs and wealth created through harnessing our renewable resources and building sustainable communities.
The first Greens Senator in Australia came from Western Australia – Jo Vallentine in 1990: so did the second and the third.
Western Australia has elected more Greens Party Australian senators than any other state. Five, compared with two from each of Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia, (and one from each of Victoria and Queensland).
WA is the second State (after New South Wales) in which the Greens have won a single member, or lower house, seat. When Jim McGinty, the leader of the ALP Opposition, resigned his Fremantle Legislative Assembly seat in 2009, a by-election was held. The strong Fremantle local group, helped by many other members of the party, threw themselves into the by-election. When Adele Carles (2009-2010) won the seat, it was the first time the Greens outpolled the Labor Party on the primary vote in any Labor-held seat. Following her ongoing affair with the State Treasurer, Adele Carles' position in the Greens became untenable and she resigned from the Greens to sit in the lower house as an independent.
There have been nine Greens (WA) parliamentarians in WA’s State parliament. Only Tasmania and New South Wales have elected more State parliamentarians.
Greens (WA) Senators
The first Green party in the world was the United Tasmania Group, formed after unsuccessful opposition to the damming of Lake Peddar. The United Tasmania Group ran candidates in the 1972 Tasmanian state election. Bob Brown won a seat in 1983 and held it for a decade before entering the Federal Senate in 1996. But a Greens (WA) senator was there before him – three in fact. Western Australia elected the first Greens Senator in Australia, Jo Vallentine in 1990.
The Greens (WA) was formed to contest the 1990 Federal election, growing out of a coalition of the Green Party and progressive political groups with interests in peace and disarmament, environment and conservation, gender equity and social justice. As a result of our beginnings, The Greens (WA) have always stood for a wide range of progressive issues beyond support for the environment. These include peace and opposition to the nuclear cycle; protection of forests, particularly in the south-west; support for land rights; women’s rights workers’ rights.
The ideals and energy of the members of this newly formed Party a successful election campaign within a year of the party’s formation, a campaign run out of a rented office, with borrowed furniture and hundreds of hours of volunteer labour.
‘Take Heart – Vote Vallentine’. When she was re-elected to her Senate seat in 1990, Jo Vallentine was the first Greens Senator in Australia. Jo was first elected in 1984 as a member of the Nuclear Disarmament Party (although most media attention was on her unsuccessful running mate in New South Wales - Peter Garrett). Concerned about the directions of the NDP, Jo Vallentine stood and was re-elected in 1987 as an independent. In 1990 she stood as the inaugural Greens (WA) candidate, polling 8.33 per cent of the primary vote and winning her seat on preferences.
Jo Vallentine took not only heart, but also a ‘feisty turn of phrase and willingness to challenge cant and custom’. She grew up in Western Australia’s conservative Wheatbelt, around Beverley. She was influenced by the Quakers and the Vietnam Moratorium days. During her time in Parliament Jo Vallentine continued her grassroots activism, for example marching on the Joint Facilities Pine Gap base near Alice Springs where she was arrested. After her political career Jo has maintained active engagement in community issues. In November 2006, The West Australian named Jo one of the State’s 100 most influential people of all time. She has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1992, Jo retired from parliament and Christabel Chamarette (1992-1996) was elected by The Greens (WA) to take her place. In 1993 Dee Margetts (1993-1999) was the second Greens senator elected anywhere in Australia. She and Christabel held the balance of power in the Senate and were a strong voice for Indigenous people on native title; they opposed Telstra's privatisation and proposed significant amendments to minimise the impact on rural communities. Prior to commencing her parliamentary career Dee was a lobbyist and state co-ordinator for the People for Nuclear Disarmament (1988-1991). She continued the work of Jo Vallentine by providing strong representation on peace and nuclear disarmament issues in parliament. She provided consistent, solid and dependable representation on social justice, health, education, the workplace and issues of regional importance such as East Timor and Bougainville. Dee provided a voice of good sense on budget and economic policy. Her electorate office undertook wide-ranging support of community groups and individuals. She opposed the original legislation on the National Competition Policy in 1995.
When Christabel and Dee lost their seats, in 1996 and 1998, Bob Brown was the sole Australian Greens Senator. In the 2001 federal election, Bob Brown was joined by Kerry Nettle from New South Wales. The Greens (WA) achieved Senate representation again in 2004, when Rachel Siewert was elected, commencing her term in July 2005. She was joined by Scott Ludlam in 2008.
The Greens Senate vote has increased at every election: 2.4% in 1996, 2.7% in 1998, 4.9% in 2001, 7.7% in 2004, 9.0% in 2007 and 13.1% in 2010. More than 1.6 million people voted to return Greens Senators in 2010, a first for any Australian minor party. Rachel Siewert was re-elected. She, Bob Brown, Christine Milne, Sarah Hansen-Young and Scott Ludlam were joined by new Greens Senators: Lee Rhiannon from NSW, Larissa Waters from Queensland, Richard di Natale from Victoria, and Penny Wright from SA. The Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate and, for the first time, have a voice in the House of Representatives, in Adam Bandt. Federally the Greens are in poised for a strong impact on progressive policy development and implementation.
The Greens in WA's Legislative Council
There have been nine Greens (WA) parliamentarians in WA’s State parliament. Only Tasmania and New South Wales have elected more State parliamentarians.
Today the Greens have four members in WA’s Legislative Council. In 1993, Jim Scott (1993-2005), a theatrical sets builder, was the first Greens representative to be elected to WA’s upper house. He was elected to represent South Metropolitan Region, a lone voice in the upper house which had always been controlled by the conservative side of politics.
In 1997, Jim Scott was joined by Giz Watson (1997–present), representing North Metropolitan Region and Dr Christine ‘Chrissy’ Sharp (1997-2005). A tree farmer and member of the Environmental Protection Authority 1989-1995, Christine represented the South West Region, becoming the only woman Chair in WA’s Parliament and the only Parliamentary Chair from a Greens Party anywhere in Australia when she chaired the Standing Committee on Ecologically Sustainable Development, a Greens initiative.
In the 1997 election, the conservative side of politics lost control of the Legislative Council for the first time. From 2001, when five Green MLCs were elected, until 2008 the Greens held the balance of power in their own right. The balance of power meant more input into parliamentary outcomes but a significantly increased workload, as every piece of legislation had to be carefully examined.
In the 2001 State Election, Giz, Jim and Chrissy were joined by Robin Chapple for the Mining and Pastoral Region and former Senator Dee Margetts for the Agricultural Region, the first time that the Greens had won representation in these regional seats.
In 2005, Giz, Dee and Robin recontested their Upper House seats but only Giz was re-elected. She was joined by Paul Llewellyn (2005-2009), an environmental planning and management consultant, builder, and wind-energy planner, who was elected to represent the South West Region
In the 2008 state election the Greens (WA) vote increased. Giz Watson was re-elected, Lynn MacLaren (2005 replacing Jim Scott; 2009-present) won the South Metropolitan seat and Robin Chapple regained the Mining and Pastoral seat. The East Metropolitan region was won for the first time, by Alison Xamon (2009-present). Unfortunately, Paul Llewellyn lost his South West seat. In this election, the Greens achieved the requirement for party status. This meant some additional funding and representation on Parliamentary delegations.
The Greens were instrumental in legalising abortion and promoting choice for women, for example incorporating breast-feeding into the Equal Opportunity Legislation in 2010. They supported vote equity in the lower house and significantly improved workplace laws, for example shaming the ALP government in 2002 into action against the harshest Industrial Relations laws in the country.
With the balance of power, the Greens secured some of the best laws providing equality to gays and lesbians.
On the environmental front, the Greens have protected old growth forests, Ningaloo reef, the Yaradagee aquifer and kept WA largely free of GM crops.
The Greens insist on thorough scrutiny of legislation via the Standing Committees of the Parliament (often in the face of Government opposition) and have significantly improved numerous Bills by proposing amendments.
The Greens MLCs also work to block negative proposals, e.g. the inappropriate development of the heritage listed Sunset Hospital site, selling off part of Whitman Park for housing and threats to close the Drug and Alcohol Authority.
A ‘Greens voice in parliament’ means that community groups and others who lack the ear of either major Party can submit petitions to parliament, strengthen their media voice with the authority of a politician and are assisted in their efforts with the resources of a politician’s office.
The Greens (WA) is committed to grassroots democracy and consensus decision making. Most meetings operate by consensus, in which the input and ideas of all participants are gathered and synthesised to arrive at a final decision acceptable to all. Through consensus, the Greens (WA) are not only working to achieve better solutions, but also to promote the growth of community and trust.
Regional Groups are the constituent group of the Greens (WA) and manage the affairs of the party within the Regional Group area, including promoting the activities of the Greens in their area. Decisions are made at Representatives’ Council, called ‘Reps’, or ‘Reps Council’, the body governing the state organisation. The Council is made up of the state office bearers (Convenors, Secretary and Treasurer), two representatives from each Regional Group, the coordinators of Working Groups and Members of Parliament.
The two Regional Group representatives are the Permanent Representative and the Rotating Representative. New members are encouraged to attend as the Rotating Representative to gain an insight into the administration and ethos and partake in the consensus-decision making of the Greens. Representatives’ Council meets monthly and is open to all members.
Proposals for Reps Council can be submitted by any member but are usually written by Regional or Working Groups. Proposals can be on any issue affecting the Party other than party policy. Other mechanisms are used for agreement on policies. Proposals are sent to all Regional Groups to discuss at their monthly meetings where, ideally, they reach a decision by consensus. This decision and discussion is then taken to the Reps Council by the Regional Group representatives. Reps then arrives at a final decision by consensus reflecting the wishes of the Party as a whole. Very rarely will a vote be called for. This structure locates decision-making at the grass roots level allowing for the maximum participation of all members.
Consensus can take time and the Party has developed various strategies to combine consensus with strategic response to situations. If urgent decisions are required before a Reps Council meeting, a Quick Decision Making Group may be called. The QDMG is composed of the office bearers and three representatives chosen by Reps Council including one member from the country region. The QDMG operates by consensus and its decisions must be put to the next Reps Council meeting for ratification.
To support the everyday work of The Greens (WA) and to concentrate attention and expertise on issues and strategies identified by the Party, Reps Council has established a number of Working Groups. The Administrative Working Group, on of only two standing groups, makes day to day decisions about running of the office and the administering The Greens (WA) activities. The National Workign Group is the other standing group and faciitates communincation sbetween meber bodies of the Australian Greens and the Australian Greens.
Policy is developed by the Policy Working Group. All members are encouraged to be involved in writing policy and communication is mostly achieved through email and the internet. Policy preambles and principles must be passed by a ballot of the membership as a whole and have been initiated for the four Green pillars:
- Participatory Democracy
- Social Justice
- Environmental Sustainability
- Peace and Nonviolence
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