Former Greens senator Andrew Bartlett says party must fast-track plans to give members more power


Mr Bartlett also wants the party to change to a model of co-leaders, which has been supported by NSW senator Mehreen Faruqi, and believes that must be put high on the party’s agenda.

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A survey of 3000 Greens members earlier this year found just 30 per cent supported the current model where the leadership was decided by the Greens party room.

Undertaken by the party’s Participatory Democracy Working Group, the survey found while 27 per cent of members were not sure whether the current method should be retained, 40 per cent wanted a different model. About 70 per cent of those under 24 wanted a change to how the leader was chosen, with support for a new model highest in NSW and Queensland.

Sources close to Senator Di Natale insisted he was genuine in his plans to give members a say on the process and had no view of what model should be adopted.

But other Greens figures have pointed the finger at him for the lack of progress on the issue.

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Mr Bartlett, who remains active within the party’s Queensland membership, is among those who have backed moving to a “one member, one vote” system.

“I support getting on with it, as it appears to have stalled for a long time and it is important for a party such as ours to ensure the membership has a direct say in the matter,” he said.

Some Greens are hesitant to embrace full democracy and believe the party should move to a weighted system, similar to Labor, where both the membership and party room vote on the leader. That system was backed by 46 per cent of participants in the survey.

Mr Bartlett, who was Australian Democrats leader from 2002 to 2004, said his former party showed the system could work.

“There are obviously internal dynamics, such as within NSW which has the biggest membership base, but one of the arguments against it means they will always elect a NSW leader,” he said. “The Democrats never had a NSW leader in my time despite that being the biggest membership base.”

It is important for a party such as ours to ensure the membership has a direct say in the matter.

Andrew Bartlett

Labor and the Liberals have criticised the Greens for closing 12 conference sessions to the media, more than both major parties’ recent national conferences.

“While I’d pity anyone who had to sit through an entire Greens party conference, it does seem strange that so much of it is being held in secret,” Liberal Party director Andrew Hirst said.

Labor national secretary Paul Erikson said: “The Greens political party won’t even tell you when they have a leadership challenge, let alone allow the media to report on their conferences.”

Greens national co-convenors Willisa Hogarth and Catherine Garner defended the conference’s closed sessions as a necessary part of a party process that was not controlled by “factional power brokers”.

“Our members are involved in a process of genuine debate during national conference, and it would not be appropriate to conduct those debates in front of the media,” they said.

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