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Bob Brown resigns as Greens leader and Senator

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Judith Ireland and Jessica Wright

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Bob Brown resigns: what's next for the Greens?

The founder of the Greens has announced his resignation from a political career spanning decades, Tim Lester reports.

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Bob Brown has resigned as leader of the Australian Greens. He will also resign from the Senate.

For 25 years, Bob has been an inspiration to millions of Australians and a great force for good in our country 

Senator Brown made the shock announcement to his Greens Party colleagues this morning.

Calling it quits ...  Bob Brown.

Calling it quits ... Bob Brown. Photo: Andrew Meares

Senator Brown told reporters this afternoon that he was "very sad to go but very happy to make way for the depth of talent that there is in the (party)", pointing out that he was 67 years old.

Senator Brown said the agreement signed to form minority government with Labor would stand.

He said that "he will be a Green until the day I die, if not for a long time after that".

New regime ... former Greens leader Bob Brown, left, with new leader Christine Milne.

New regime ... former Greens leader Bob Brown, left, with new leader Christine Milne. Photo: Andrew Meares

"I'm well aware of the size of this decision," he said, noting that he made up his mind after the Greens' global conference in Africa this month.

Christine Milne has been elected as the new leader and Adam Bandt has been elected deputy leader.

It means that the party will have a leader, for the first time, in both the Upper and Lower houses of Parliament.

Bob Brown is removed by security as John Howard arrives at a Liberal Party election breakfast, Hobart, September 1998. Click for more photos

Life and times of Bob Brown

Greens leader Bob Brown has announced his retirement from politics. Photo: Andrew Meares

Senator Milne today paid tribute to Senator Brown's "extraordinary leadership", saying she would carry through his "values of looking after our country and our people, now and into the future".

"Under Bob's wise leadership, the Greens have grown into the undisputed third force in Australian politics, with our vision, policies and action towards a healthier, cleverer, cleaner future embraced by 1.7 million Australians," she said. 

"Under my leadership, we will work tirelessly towards making Australia a great place to live and work.

"For 25 years, Bob has been an inspiration to millions of Australians and a great force for good in our country. But he's also been a colleague, a mentor and friend to me. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for everything he has done and look forward to the next stage in his career."

Senator Milne said it was a privilege to have been elected but conceded it was a "daunting task". She said protection of the environment and natural resources remained the Greens' biggest priorities.

Senator Milne said she had "plenty of experience" in minority governments and the position of holding the balance of power. She said she would embark on a "listening tour" of regional and rural Australia as the Greens had "misunderstood" the needs of farmers and those living in the bush "for some time".

Senator Brown has been a senator for 16 years. He has led the Australian Greens since the party formed in 1992, seeing the party's vote grow to double figures.

When asked about his disappointments in federal politics, Senator Brown offered that he didn't get to be Minister for Westerly Winds.

"I haven't become minister for anything or secretary for anything," he said.

He has called the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader and the leader of the Tasmanian Greens to tell them of his resignation.

"I look forward to fresh green pursuits including writing, photography, music, occasional talks, bushwalking, and getting out with (partner) Paul (Thomas) to see Miranda Gibson who has been perched for 120 days 60 metres high, in defence of a giant tree facing destruction in central Tasmania," Senator Brown said in an earlier statement.

Senator Brown - who trained as a doctor - first gained political prominence as the head of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society during the campaign to save the Franklin Dam. In 1983, he became a member of the Tasmanian Parliament.

He was the first openly gay member of Federal Parliament, and the first openly gay leader of an Australian political party.

His political career has been marked by controversial episodes and a knack of flying in the face of protocol.

In October 2003, Senator Brown was suspended from the Parliament for interjecting during an address by the visiting US President George W. Bush.

Gillard tribute

Prime Minister Julia Gillard this afternoon thanked the Tasmanian for his contribution to state and federal politics.

"Bob's career has been driven by a passion for our environment, having famously led a protest against the construction of the Franklin Dam," she said.

"It was this passion that saw him lead his party through historic negotiations with the government and independents Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie, to ensure the passage of our Clean Energy Future Package.

"Bob has also been an active voice on the rights of same sex couples, having bravely used his own experiences to campaign for change."

Senator Milne - an avid gardener - also has a long history of fighting for environmental causes. She participated in the Franklin Dam blockade in 1983 and was elected to the Tasmanian Parliament in 1989.

When Senator Brown stood down from state politics in 1993, Senator Milne succeeded him as leader of the Tasmanian Greens.

Senator Milne then worked as an adviser to Senator Brown before being elected to the federal Senate in 2004.

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324 comments

  • We are now sailing into the unknown as we don't know what demands are now going to be placed on the Government and by whom as they were never really a stable party just a number of individuals falling under the green banner. Brown was probably the only thing holding them together. Also can the labor party now rely on their votes to support them. This is just going to continue to add to the unstable situation we now have. Could be interesting times ahead!

    Commenter
    Michael
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 13, 2012, 1:01PM
  • Having dropped the legislative equivalent of a flaming paper bag on the nation's doorstep, Bob has rung the bell and left the building.

    Commenter
    Real Bob
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    April 13, 2012, 12:52PM
    • It is sad to see you go Senator Brown. I had a tear to my eye when I heard the news. Good luck and thank you for everything.

      Commenter
      Paxxy
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 1:03PM
    • Good riddance to Bob Brown the eco-terrorist. His legacy is having done more to destroy this great country than any before him.

      Labor will long rue the day it sold its soul to watermelon extremists.

      Commenter
      Gatsby
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 1:09PM
    • Left the building yes ... But he leave it having made the Greens a real force in Aussie politics. You can tell this by the venom heaped on the Greens by the unthinking. He hands over to a large support base, and many active members and local Councillors, from which future leaders will come ... I dont think the Greens are done for ... quite the contrary.

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 1:25PM
    • @ Gatby the country is a better place for what Bob Brown and people like him have done . Can only assume that you work for one of the many PR companies who are constantly working the bloggs to rubbish anything that is not right wing. If it wasn't for the Greens and others who care this country would have a heap of problems with water, forests overrun with development and filthy beaches. You'd also have developers putting up blocks of units any where they like.

      Commenter
      Rod
      Location
      the Coast
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 2:28PM
    • rod - what rubbish, open both your eyes

      Commenter
      max2
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 2:55PM
    • @Rod
      That's one of the many problems with Lefties - you simply can't fathom that intelligent, well educated Australians could possibly disagree with you. Why? Because what characterises much of the Left is that you don't learn to understand opposing viewpoints. You all consume media that only reinforces your own viewpoint.

      I know what you think about most issues and why, because like most conservatives I'm informed. I vehemently disagree with you, but I understand your thinking and why it's wrong.

      Commenter
      Gatsby
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 3:01PM
    • max2 thanks for enlightening everyone with your witty and informative 7 word comment. Your insight, feelings and political knowledge really shines through in your comment, you must be so proud....

      And no, no you don't have to back up your informative 7 word comment with any facts or reason, and good on you for rubbishing someone else purely based on the fact they have a different opinion to you. You must be such a wonderfully balanced, shining example of humanity. 3 internet points for you!

      Commenter
      Matt
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 3:11PM
    • Great work Bob Brown!

      You have really been a great inspiration to so many. The greens party has come such a long way under your leadership.

      Bob has been one of the most direct & upfront people in politics... Intergrity & genuine care for humanity & the planet. Well done.

      The greens party has become one of the most passionate & devote parties, with a very active, vocal voter base.

      Keeping the bastards honest has always stuck well!

      Of course the economic rationalists & ill informed are going to scorn him & the greens party ... congrats

      Lets all take care of the planet, the people on it, & get sensible economic policy involving everyone!
      Catering to heavily to the rich, powerful & greedy has helped to get us to where we are today ...

      Commenter
      Bob
      Location
      Up a Green Tree
      Date and time
      April 13, 2012, 3:31PM
  • More comments

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