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The Australian Greens 2008-2011



The Parliamentary Library has recently published a research paper which examines the electoral fortunes and parliamentary activities of the Australian Greens from 2008 to the end of the first year of the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament in 2011. The paper updates and expands on an earlier paper, The rise of the Australian Greens, published by the Library in 2008. It presents a brief introduction to the structure, ideological underpinnings and policies of the Australian Greens, and includes a brief history of the development of Green politics internationally and in Australia.

In the 2010 federal election, the Australian Greens emerged with the balance of power in the Senate and shared balance of power in the House of Representatives in the first hung federal parliament in Australia for 70 years. Following the election, the ALP entered into an agreement with the Greens in order to secure the party's commitment to a stable government during the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament.

The increased visibility of the Australian Greens at a national level has generated greater public scrutiny and debate about the implications of the Greens' policy agenda for Australia. The party has a distinctive political culture and values with a 'grassroots' organisational structure reflecting its origins in social and environmental movements and citizen-led activism. The party's federal electoral success has also highlighted the way in which the Greens are engaged in a 'balancing act', both externally, with the Labor Government and as the balance-of-power party in the Senate, and internally, between the pragmatists and idealists within its membership.

The relationship between the ALP and the Greens has been a critical element in shaping the course of the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament in its first year, and will continue to have a significant impact on the Parliament during the remainder of its life. It will inevitably continue to be a focus for analysis and comment in the future, as observers seek to understand the nature and impact of the Australian Greens as a third force in Australian politics.