The Australian Greens (perhaps known locally as The Greens) are a leftist/progressive green political party operating in Australia. The Australian Greens is structured as a confederation of eight state or territorial parties.
There had been an effort to create a Green party in Australia during the 70's and 80's as issues such as the Franklin Dam and other green issues rose in importance. The Greens were formed in the early 90's and elected their first senator, Bob Brown, in 1996. As time progressed The Greens electoral performance improved dramatically and in the Australian Senate and the parliaments of various State and territories around Australia they make up a visible minority.
The Greens initially had very poor electoral performance but eventually improved and in the 2007 federal election received close to 1 million votes in the Australian House of Representatives representing around 8% of the total primary vote. Despite this, The Greens did not receive any seats (and haven't in the past) as their support is deep but not broad. In the Senate they received over 1 million primary votes, but after preferences received close to 1.5 million votes representing close to 12% of the final vote giving them a total of 5 seats out of 76 with the help of proportional representation. In the 2010 federal election, the greens won the lower house seat of Melbourne. In the House of Representatives, the greens usually support the Australian Labor Party.
As Australia uses a system of secret ballot it is hard to estimate correctly who votes for The Greens but through various polls conducted it is thought that the average Green voter is 'a supporter of the old Labor Party left of the '70s', and lives in middle to upper class suburbs around the major cities and possibly old Australian Democrats voters.
In nearly every election the Greens give preferences to the Centre-Left Australian Labor Party by a large margin which is usually over 65% of the preferences. This can help the ALP in some close seats where the result could come to preferences.
The Greens have been criticized by conservatives in Australia as an extreme left wing party which doesn't just stand for green politics but at the same time being very socially liberal, supporting drug legalization, supporting multiculturalism and opposing war. They have been called a watermelon party by both former reverend now leader of the Christian Democrats Fred Nile and former Nationals leader John Anderson in relation to the accusations of The Greens being communists. They have also being criticized by former Prime Minister John Howard.
- Party Structure. Retrieved on September 2, 2012.