Thursday, March 2, 2006
As the Australian Prime Minister John Howard celebrated his ten-year reign this week, Greens Leader Bob Brown marked the 10th anniversary of his election into the Federal parliament.
Senator Brown has outlasted 10 other party leaders: Meg Lees, Cheryl Kernot, Natasha Stott-Despoja, Brian Greig, Andrew Bartlett, all former Democrat leaders. Pauline Hanson, Len Harris of the One Nation party, plus the Australian Labor Party’s Kim Beazley, Simon Crean and Mark Latham have all been and gone during that time.
Only Prime Minister John Howard and Senator Bob Brown are left standing as leaders in the Australian Federal Parliament. Bob Brown was elected to the Senate in 1996, and re-elected in 2001. He has introduced bills for constitutional reform, forest protection, to block radioactive waste dumping, to ban mandatory sentencing, and greenhouse abatement.
Senator Brown says his party has hardly been in the balance of power at any stage, yet the Australian Greens have risen in popularity. “We’ve become the third major political party in the country and we’re on our way to becoming a real power broker in this country and ultimately, the aim has to be becoming part of the Government of the country,” he told ABC Radio.
While there’s perpetual media speculation over John Howard’s possible retirement, Senator Brown says he’s full of beans and ready for the next 10 years. “And there’s no speculation about me standing at next year’s election. I can’t wait,” Senator Brown said. “Our election aim will be to rescue the Senate from the Howard government, and doubling our team is not beyond reality.”
The Tasmanian Greens senator predicts his party could govern the country one day. “We’re on our way to becoming a real powerbroker in this country and ultimately the aim has to be becoming part of the government of the country,” he said.
The Greens started with Brown’s entry into the Senate after the 1996 election, doubled to two senators in 2001, and has four had senators represented since 2004.
The four Greens senators and their staff say they will celebrate with a chocolate cake – and 10 green candles. The government held a gala fundraising dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament on Wednesday night to celebrate Mr Howard’s milestone.
Senator Brown said the success of Prime Minister John Howard is in his ability to play on fears. “(Howard)… is able to “dig a little bit below surface to play on fears that people have. He has presided over a country where the rich have got richer much faster than the poor have seen their conditions improve,” he said. “And it is a country that says if you are down on your luck, bad luck. The good Samaritan aspect which is very strong in this country, doesn’t reside with this government.”
Of the Federal Labor Party the Greens leader said they should move back to humanitarian politics He said Labor was trying to swing to the right but had lost its way. “I think the Opposition has lost its way and I think it is going to get worse,” Senator Brown said. “The indications are that the Opposition thinks if it moves to the right it will do better,” said Senator Brown.
Bob Brown is among 20 environmentalists, organisations and concerned citizens who were issued a 216 page writ by the Tasmanian-based timber company Gunns Limited in December 2004. The woodchipping giant is sueing for a combined AU$6.3 million for actions it claims has damaged their business and reputation. The defendants say the case is ‘industrial’ style litigation, alleging conspiracy, interference with trade and business and defamation. Nine different campaigns are cited.