‘Abbott Proof The Senate’ The Greens placard #2015-0046
Pale green and white political banner with the words ‘Abbott Proof The Senate’ and ‘The Greens’.
Despite a swing against the Australian Greens at the 2013 election, the party succeeded in gaining more seats in parliament than ever before. From 1 July 2014 the Greens had ten senators, more than any other minor party in history, and Adam Bandt was the first Green member of the House of Representatives to be elected at a general election.
Formed in 1992 from an amalgamation of various state-based parties, the Greens were led by Dr Bob Brown from 1996 to 2012 and from 2012 by Christine Milne, both Tasmanian environmental campaigners with long histories of progressive activism. Between 2011 and 2014, the Greens held the balance of power in the Senate, but were forced to share that balance with other crossbench parties after the 2013 election. In 2011 and 2014 respectively the Greens won lower house seats in the state parliaments of New South Wales and Victoria for the first time.As of 2014 the Greens have achieved at least one senator in every state, but due to the nature of the electoral system have been unable to elect a senator from either Territory. In 2013, the party’s lead Senate candidate in the ACT was Simon Sheikh, who until that time had been the director of progressive activist group GetUp! The party ran with a platform of creating an ‘Abbott proof fence’ to prevent Tony Abbott, who polls indicated would easily win power, from having control of the upper house since Territory senators take office immediately after being elected. Despite a strong campaign from Sheikh and the Greens, the ACT again elected one Labor and one Liberal senator.
The 2013 election resulted in the most politically diverse parliament in Australian history. From 1 July 2014, there were eleven parties with sitting members and senators. These included the four Coalition parties (Liberal, National, Country Liberal and Liberal National), Labor, the Australian Greens, Palmer United Party (PUP), the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, Liberal Democratic and Family First. There were also two independent MPs and one independent senator (later joined by one DLP and one PUP defector). The diverse and at times chaotic Senate meant that the Abbott government struggled at times to find enough votes in the upper house to pass parts of its agenda.