Michelle Grattan says that the change is more than generational – “it marks the end of the Brown-Milne era, that was born out of the environmental cause and centred in Tasmania.”
Richard Di Natale says he is a pragmatist, who wants to “get stuff done”. He came to politics through health rather than through environmentalism.
“If you want to know about my general philosophy, I’m not an ideologue. I’m not going to say we want small or big government … We want decent government that looks after people…
“My view is pretty straightforward. People want access to health care, to education and they want the environment looked after. They want clean air and water for their kids, pretty basic things.”
With their critics branding the Greens as extreme, Di Natale talks up their appeal to the mainstream. “We are the natural home of progressive, mainstream Australian voters.”
Laura Tingle has a similar view, saying that Di Natale could change the dynamics of the senate. As such he represents an opportunity for Abbott. And a threat for Labor as he seeks to take the Greens vote to 20% or more.
If he does this it will be through also taking some small “l” liberals off the LNP.
Lenore Taylor was on similar lines, but added that he seems a good communicator:
In his first outing Di Natale proved he could deliver a progressive political message – zinger free – and without torturously [sic] scripted soundbites.
And he sounded authentic, like he was speaking in sentences he had made up himself.
Di Natale promises to be consultative, there will be no captain’s picks.
Two deputies were elected, Scott Ludlam from Western Australia and Larissa Waters from Queensland, spreading the representation around and including one woman. Adam Bandt loses out, but it was not viable to have two males from Victoria. Also the Greens are a senate based party, and for now the leadership resides better there.
Bandt is about to become a father for the first time, which will change his life forever.
Christine Milne has attracted the usual plaudits. It seems she handled the transition well. She is about to turn 62 and a grandmother.
Jane Caro points out that apart from Annastacia Palaszczuk, it’s now blue ties wherever you look in the leadership stakes. But she is positive about the Greens prospects:
The Greens feel like a party of the future while both the Coalition and Labor look increasingly like parties of the past. As Elon Musk launches the Tesla home battery to worldwide acclaim and coal-fired power looks like the 21st century equivalent of blacksmithing, the Greens are already ahead of the game.
Integrity of purpose, foresight and principle will matter a great deal in the difficult times ahead of us. If Di Natale grasps the nettle as calmly and sensibly as his predecessors have done, his party has a great opportunity in front of it.
Johanna Nicholson at the ABC has an excellent backgrounder.
During his medical career, he worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory and in India, where he helped set up a drug treatment program and worked on HIV prevention.
He later described those years as “formative” and said they had shaped his view of the health system as being a social justice issue.
We wish him well!