13 April 2012
Bob Brown has resigned today as leader of the Australian Greens, passing the baton to Christine Milne, and it is the biggest story in Australia.
This transition is the perfect move for the Greens and the country at this time. The world is changing and the Australian Greens are very well positioned for that, with Senator Christine Milne as the new party leader.
Senator Milne is one of the world’s leading thinkers on the renewable energy, cleantech, low carbon economic reality of this century. Both the Labor and Liberal parties are stuck in a negative, quarry vision for the country.
Bob Brown is 67 years young. I have been fortunate to know him since 1995, before he was elected to the Senate. He has always inspired me with his leadership.
Senator Christine Milne is also a great leader and has been was a hero of mine since the 1980s. She is Australia’s Erin Brokovitch, who rose from anonymity to take on a huge environmental campaign (against a pulpmill) and won it.
As Bob Brown just reminded people in his media conference on ABC24 just now, he passed the leadership baton to Christine Milne previously, in the Tasmanian context.
Bob Brown built the party and led progressive Australia in a way that nobody else could. He was a beacon for compassion and ecological wisdom under the mean days of Prime Minister John Howard and then the confused days of PM Rudd and Gillard.
Bob Brown and his Chief of Staff, Ben Oquist, did more than anyone to build the Greens up to 3rd party status. The world now faces an intertwined global economic and climate crisis. Christine Milne has spent her years in the Senate preparing herself to be the leader for these times.
Bob Brown, to his credit, delegated enormous responsibility to Milne over the past years, taking the lead on energy and climate policy. Often this meant that she was busy with obscure, technical issues in the Parliament that did not immediately boost the party’s profile or standing in the media cycle. But Bob was determined that this strategic investment in policy was required and she was the best person to do it.
Australia’s clean energy industry and progressive business has a great friend in Christine Milne. Leading international solar, wind and clean technology companies concede privately that Milne is a far better energy ‘minister’ than Labor’s Martin Ferguson, which is why he hates her so much.
It is also worth noting that two of Christine Milne’s great strengths are connecting to people and managing balance of power (with Liberal and Labor governments). She is very well placed to help the Greens sell the carbon price package to the electorate in the lead up to the next election. Christine Milne won and held her seat in the Tasmanian parliament by doing the ultimate in retail politics; visiting tiny hamlets and towns to talk to anyone who would listen.
Christine Milne is also a powerful Parliamentary strategist and orator, like Bob Brown. These personal attributes, combined with her idea leadership will make her a formidable force.