Similarly, in Australia, the Greens are billing themselves as the “real opposition” in addition to their environmental campaigning. Senator Di Natale is scathing of Labor’s recent support for the Coalition’s tax package, which passed Parliament last month.
“Labor’s approach at the moment is basically to give up on the position on opposition,” Senator Di Natale said. “They are showing that they are closer to the Liberal Party than they are to the Greens.”
While Labor wanted to make changes to the tax package, they did not get enough support in the Senate to pass their amendments.
At the 2019 election, the Greens captured 10.40 per cent of lower house first preferences, a slight increase on their 2016 result. In the Senate, it received 10.19 per cent of first preferences, with a swing of 1.57 per cent. It retained all six of its senators up for re-election. But despite hopes the party would increase its House of Representatives’ count, it still only has one lower house MP.
In the wake of the election, the Greens have seen about a ten per cent spike in membership, adding more than 1700 new members. Senator Di Natale says this is “clearly a response to the election”.
“For a lot of people the way to respond to what was for many of them a devastating result, was to actually take some action.”
Labor sources say the party has also seen a post-election membership bounce of about six per cent. It is understood the ALP now has more than 60,000 members for the first time since the mid-1990s. The Liberal Party is also understood to have seen its membership grow by several thousand after the May 18 result.
Before the election, Senator Di Natale was preparing to negotiate with a Shorten Labor government to try to strengthen Australia’s climate change response.
“The result was a complete shock to me, as I suspect it was as much to the Prime Minister.”
Senator Di Natale said he had had an informal meeting with Scott Morrison since the election, but noted that “frankly, we don’t see many areas of common ground”.
“If at some point the Liberal Party recognise that they need to start acting on the breakdown of our climate, then we’d be very happy to begin a dialogue.”
Asked what his party does from here on climate change, Senator Di Natale said: “We have to continue to work with the climate movement. And we will work outside the Parliament, as a party that is very connected to a number of groups [in the community].”
“This election was described as a ‘climate election’. Every election from this point on will be a climate election. We’re breaking record, on record, on record, [with] extreme weather, drought. And I think the community’s only going to become increasingly concerned about the lack of action.”
Judith Ireland is a political reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House