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Milne survives push to axe her as Greens leader

Date

Heath Aston, Chris Johnson

EXCLUSIVE

Under fire: Christine Milne with Adam Bandt.

Under fire: Christine Milne with Adam Bandt. Photo: Penny Bradfield

Christine Milne has survived an aborted push to challenge her leadership - but some senior Greens claim the Tasmanian senator is now ''living on borrowed time''.

Fairfax Media can reveal the departure of Senator Milne's most senior political aide, Ben Oquist, is linked to moves inside the party to switch to Adam Bandt, her deputy.

A source close to the turmoil inside the leader's office said Senator Milne had demanded the resignation of Mr Oquist, her chief of staff, after she became aware he had backed moves for Mr Bandt to mount a challenge at Monday's party room meeting.

''This is about disloyalty. Ben was trying to get rid of Christine. Adam Bandt was going to make a run for the leadership but they called it off about an hour before party room because they didn't have the numbers,'' the source said.

Another Greens source confirmed a push to replace Senator Milne was on but there was ''not enough confidence they had the numbers''. Ms Milne's office declined to make any comment on Thursday and Mr Bandt, who is on holiday, could not be reached.

Senator Milne fronted the media alongside Mr Bandt after Monday's meeting to declare both leader and deputy had been re-elected to their positions unopposed. ''We are a strong, united team,'' she said.

Three days later, she had lost Mr Oquist and five other senior policy and media staff.

Senator Milne said the ''flat administrative structure'' she imposed when she took over from Bob Brown was the reason Mr Oquist had moved on. ''I think Ben had a view that it should be more hierarchical,'' she said.

Mr Oquist is travelling overseas and has made no other statement other than he left on good terms but ''fundamental differences of opinion in strategy had emerged''.

But senior Greens said the exit of Mr Oquist was unlikely to end the disquiet over the direction of the party under Senator Milne's leadership. There is a belief in some quarters that Mr Bandt can reconnect with the party's young, activist support base. The Greens primary vote went backwards at the election despite the swing against Labor.

A source said: ''She's on borrowed time, there's no two ways about it.'' Another said: ''She lost a third of the Greens vote. Now she has lost a third of her staff. That doesn't add up to a political leader doing a good job.''

Ms Milne is also dealing with internal party anger over the disappointing election campaign.

Fairfax has obtained an election review document written for the communications unit - known inside the party as ''RAWG'' ( the research and advertising working group) which included Greens campaign director Erin Farley.

The damning appraisal, written by Jeremy Press, talks of delays in getting approved messaging out, ''clumsy lines'' and state branches working independently of each other. Mr Press said the slogan ''we put people before profits'' had alienated the party from small business and farmers.

211 comments

  • Great - so we'll get three months of Labor leadership wrangling. And just when that's over, the Greens leadership will fire up.

    Larissa Waters actually seems like the sensible Green. She'd probably do a much better job than Bandt or the hopeless SHY.

    Commenter
    Hacka
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    September 27, 2013, 7:09AM
    • Totally agree on Larissa Waters. Sensible and sane. She represents the party's core environmental message. And she is from a state where the environment is most under threat. I have never been a member of any party but if she were to become the leader and public face I would definitely consider joining. I don't feel that way about any of the other Greens in the Federal Parliament.

      Commenter
      Ray du Monde
      Location
      NSW
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 7:58AM
    • hacka - if it wasn't for the leadership uncertainty in the Greens and the ALP, there would be no distraction at all from the incompetence and duplicity of the LNP. You must be loving it. But sooner or later, these Parties will have settled their leadership questions and then the blowtorch will turn where it really belongs.

      Already, the Gillard Government is looking pretty good in comparison with Abbott's, even with its leadership tensions.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:02AM
    • Agreed hacka. Has the pleasure of meeting Larissa while handing out HTV cards on election day. Very impressive woman. (for a Green)

      Commenter
      mh
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:10AM
    • Larissa Waters all the way.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:12AM
    • sensible Green?

      Commenter
      In your opinion
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:13AM
    • It's good there's still a woman standing.

      Otherwise it would all just be men. And that would look just wrong. Each of them with a woman side kick.

      Eeew.

      Women have been the losers in all this. Thanks Julia. For doing that. And ol "ditch the witch" Tony and the Libs for hammering out something truly ugly in relation to that.

      Some weird cosmic vortex that will have a reaction further down the track. You can't escape the laws of physics.

      Hey, maybe there'll be a whole new awakening to feminism at the end of all this.

      We can only hope.

      But SHY is scary, she's a bit scatty, first crying over rejecting the Malaysian solution, then, a year later coming up with .... a Malaysian solution. And she's got leadership ambitions.

      And the horrible way she treated Xenophon. I think she should apologize to him.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:13AM
    • The Greens are taking the rational[position regarding climate change. It is the "adult" Abbott who is taking an extremist position- not the Greens. Somehow the narrative propagated by the right that the Greens are weird has become the norm. Think about it- it is Tony and his denial of climate change that is weird and crazy- irrational, unscientific and extreme. Just shows how easy it is to manipulate the narrative if you are on the right wing side of this discourse. It helps to have big money and big Murdoch media irrationally backing you.

      Commenter
      Conrad
      Location
      Darwin
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:16AM
    • hacka, when the weaknesses of Abbott's position and policies while in Opposition were wheeled out, there was a roar of conservative anger - Tony did not have to be accountable to anyone because he was in Opposition. He was not responsible for any of his actions.

      I wait to hear the same conservative anger that you would focus attention on the performance of Opposition parties when by conservative rules they are to be left in peace to do whatever good or bad they can with total immunity from criticism.

      After all, Tony is in power now, and must be held accountable, as much as he is doing everything to isolate himself from accountability.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:23AM
    • SHY for Leader of the Greens - complete the circle of hopeless leader's daisy chain of Rudd & Gillard and destroy the Greens to boot.....yah!

      Commenter
      Smack
      Location
      City of the Fallen
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:44AM

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