Newly elected Australian Greens leader Christine Milne wants to work with “progressive business” to tackle climate change, following the shock resignation of former leader Bob Brown.
Senator Milne, former deputy leader of the Greens, was unanimously endorsed by colleagues as Senator Brown’s successor after he resigned from the party and the Senate.
The Greens party is expected to select a new deputy leader this afternoon. Senator Hanson-Young and MP Adam Bandt are considered frontrunners for the post.
Brown has played an increasingly important role in Australian politics, leading the Greens to a relative victory at the 2010 election – they now hold the balance of power in the Senate.
Milne said today she will not attempt to renegotiate the deal that helped create the minority Labor government, saying she was a signatory to the original agreement.
“There will be no renegotiation of the agreement that I’m already a signatory to,” she said.
Milne grew up in north-western Tasmania and taught in local high schools at the same time as campaigning to stop the damming of the Franklin River.
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Along with Brown, she was arrested and spent time in jail. In 1989, she entered the Tasmanian Parliament as an independent MP and later helped set up the state Greens party.
However, she lost her seat in 1998 and worked as an adviser to Brown until she was elected to the Senate in 2004. Milne has been a long-term campaigner on climate change issues.
From 2005 to 2008, she was vice president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and became deputy leader of the Greens in late 2008.
Wasting no time in her new role as Greens party leader, Milne said she wants to work closely with “progressive business” on the opportunities arising from climate change issues.
However, she has confirmed there will be no change to the carbon pricing scheme, set to start in July. In fact, Brown has described Milne as the “driving force” for the carbon package.
“No one in this nation can have greater accolades for moving Australia into a reasonable direction to tackle climate change than Christine,” Brown said.
Milne has already indicated she intends to take the Greens’ message – which has so far attracted most electoral success in inner cities – to the bush.
“Rural and regional Australia has a critical role to play in this century, particularly in terms of… renewable energy and energy efficiency,” she said.
“I’m going out there as a country person to say to other country people it’s time that the Greens and country and rural and regional Australia really worked together.”