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Speech: The "Greenslide" and What it Says about Australian Politics (Matter of Interest)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:44): I rise to talk about the 'Greenslide' that we have just seen in both the federal and state elections this year, and what that means for politics in Australia moving forward. It is clear that the community's appetite for the two major parties has diminished. The third party nationally now is the Greens, where we have achieved here 12 per cent of the vote. We now have more elected Greens MPs than ever before, and I will note that the Greens, where they have taken those seats in lower houses, are not known for losing those seats once we have picked them up. Indeed, the Greens are here to stay, and we are here to grow.

We picked up three new seats in the federal lower house, all in Queensland, or 'Greensland', as we like to call it now. New South Wales and Victoria have also seen us come close in other seats such as Richmond and MacNamara—not what once would have been thought typical Greens heartlands. People are backing the Greens in greater numbers than ever before. We have a massive mandate to act on the climate crisis and the inequality crisis, and this is just the beginning for our ever-growing movement.

What is being demonstrated by the Greens, and by our candidates and our volunteers, is that we can do politics differently. Going out and talking to people, meeting them where they are actually at, and listening to the issues that matter to them, is bringing people back into politics and showing them that we can achieve real, positive outcomes in their communities. In a time where people are more disillusioned, disaffected and disappointed by status quo-politics, this is a revolutionary thing.

These successes, the Greens' successes, are a reminder not only of the kind of representation people want in their politics but also of what we can collectively achieve when we are all committed to a politics that is truly representative of our community. The biggest asset the political establishment—the old parties, the vested interests—have is that people have low expectations of them. We have reached a quite depressing point in our political debate, and in politics at large, where people no longer expect politics to improve their lives at all. Our politics remind people that power does not have to be this way: power for and power from, rather than power over, is the way of the future.

Politics can and should materially improve our lives. Hope, and large-scale and long-term vision, is making people come back to politics, to community involvement, and the Greens have been part of facilitating that change. During those last elections we did not have a narrow platform, a small target for the next four years. Indeed, we did not focus on just maintaining the status quo. Instead, we talked to people about what our state and our nation could look like not just in 10 years or 15 years but well and truly into a meaningful and bright future.

We talked about the transformational effect that progressive politics and representation can have, and we reminded people that in a wealthy country like Australia everyone should, and can, have a good life. We need to get back to the basics of good health care, education, a livable income, housing and a safe climate. We were honest with the voters: we know that real, meaningful, lasting and positive change does take time, and it is hard, but what is quite incredible about the recent election results, what is so bright about the future we have moving forward, is that people have chosen to take that first step with us. They are certainly choosing lasting, positive change.

The message is clear to the old parties: let go of your sense of entitlement. These seats do not belong to you or your party, they belong to the people you represent. If you no longer represent them, and if you no longer represent their values, they will vote for somebody who will. Every day people are rediscovering that their power in politics is in their voices and in their communities.

What is clear is that blue ribbon seats are no longer safe. Those seats are becoming more of a three-cornered contest than ever before, and I must say that I am also excited for the future of the Greens in this state as we see, right now, a by-election in Bragg. Once a blue ribbon seat for over 50 years, held by only three Liberal members, there is a real chance that in a three-cornered contest Bragg can be given back to the people of Bragg, that their voices can be heard in the other place in this parliament and that their votes will no longer be taken for granted.

We have a great candidate in Jim Bastiras and he is already demonstrating, as we have known for some time, that people want politics done differently.

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