Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Greens moral vision safe in Milne's hands

  • 19 April 2012

Just how special a human being Bob Brown is may be seen from reading the full text of his third Green Oration, given to the party faithful days before he announced his retirement from parliamentary politics.

Mocked and pilloried by lesser minds, it was a visionary speech, freshened by a sly sense of humour and irony. It set out his irrepressible optimism and sense of our common humanity across this fragile planet, and of the duties of compassion and mutual respect we owe to one another as shared stewards of our wondrous earthly home.

This is the Greens moral vision. It is the same grand vision Tony Judt came to in the later years of his rich scholarly life: that we all share the same universal rights as human beings, not as rich or poor or as citizens of one powerful country or another.

Vale, Bob — enjoy your well-earned retirement and continue to inspire us with your wisdom and humanity.

Christine Milne inherits the Greens' ecological and humanist vision. In every sense, she is Brown's rightful heir. The next promising generation of Greens leaders will be nurtured and grow under her leadership. There are many of them: the party continues to grow and attract real talents.

Milne shares Brown's Tasmanian roots and wilderness inspiration. They manned the forest barricades together. At 59, she has fire in her belly and years of productive politics to come.

An interesting paradox — a feet-on-the-ground Tasmanian country woman, a farmer's daughter, who became a fervent Green, now sees her prime task as being to build coalitions of trust and policy cooperation between the Greens and the threatened rural and small business communities of Australia, against the power of plutocracy.

There will be interesting new coalitions of interest taking shape under Milne: she will network with people who might otherwise go to Barnaby Joyce or Bob Katter, keeping a decent Australian populist vision alive.

Her apparent ordinariness will be an asset. Don't be fooled by this, for she has a keen mind and a firm grasp of the Australian political style.

Enemies of the Greens are painting her as a rigid eco-ideologue, a cold fanatic who cannot compromise and do pragmatic deals as they say Brown could do so well. Such a critique falsely paints