The first Green in the House of Reps?


By making history and sending the first ever Green to the lower house, Melbourne will send an enormous message to all the parties that these issues are important and need to be agitated and pushed in parliament.

So says Adam Bandt, wannabe Greens Party candidate for the seat of Melbourne (emphasis mine).

The campaign being run by Bandt and the Greens Party is based on the lie that Adam Bandt would be the first, and historic, Greens MP elected to the House of Representatives. By electing Bandt, apparently, this would send a message to the major parties, Labor in particular, and see a shift to the left on a raft of policies.

Furthermore, a single Greens Party MP sitting on the cross benches will, according to Bandt, have more influence with Julia Gillard (or Tony Abbott if the worst happens and he loses) than a Labor back bencher:

Having another Labor member sitting on the back bench isn’t going to achieve anything as far as getting these reforms is concerned. What will achieve it is more Green voices being able to shift the debate and hold [Julia Gillard] to account.

Now, despite Adam Bandt’s breathless sloganeering in Melbourne, Michael Organ from NSW holds the title of first ever Greens Party Member of Parliament.

Michael Who?

I was the first Australian Greens Federal Member for Cunningham in the Australian parliament from 19 October 2002 to 9 October 2004.

That’s right. For two years after a by-election in Cunningham (covering Wollongong) there was a Greens MP in the House of Representatives.

And after two years, Michael Organ was not re-elected. Because the people of Cunningham realised that the Greens Party can’t actually achieve anything.

Of course, Adam Bandt and the PR company running his campaign don’t want you to know about this.

They have fabricated the idea that “history” will be made in Melbourne. “History” was already made in Cunningham. At the time, this was a big deal, as this Canberra Times article shows. Yet Bob Brown and the rest of the Greens Party campaigners have conveniently forgotten about Michael Organ.

Why? Because in his two years as a Greens Party MP, he was able to achieve nothing. Check his Wikipedia page, or his personal web page or his list of Parliamentary speeches. No achievements are listed. Nothing delivered for his local constituents. In fact, he achieved so little that the Greens Party, Bob Brown, NSW Greens supremo Lee Rhiannon and even Adam Bandt have erased him from Greens history.

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9 Responses to “The first Green in the House of Reps?”

  1. I don't think Adam meant to deliberately disparage Michael Organ's achievements as part of involvement in some party-wide conspiracy of history, and I think it's specious for you to argue that. Adam's official page includes the line phrased this way;

    "Join us in making history by sending the first lower house Greens MP to Canberra elected at a general election."

    That has been a fairly standard message of the campaign. The point may not have been made terribly clear in the interview you cited, but I don't think it's really as relevant as you try to make out. Personally, I believe a non-Lib/Lab/ex-Nat in the House would be an exciting development and that they would be able to achieve a lot for their constituents and for the country.

    If you think that's naïve of me, I'm happy to be proven wrong. But it's a bit much to advocate a two-party system to the exclusion of all other candidates on the basis of a missing adverbial clause in one line of an interview.

    • I think it's specious of Adam Bandt to suggest that "history" is somehow made by electing a Green Party MP to the lower house during a "general election" – as if that is something considerably different to a by-election.

      Adam Bandt and the Greens Party marketers are trying to highlight the "first lower house Greens", while ignoring the fact that Michael Organ was there first. If Adam was being honest, rather than having a disclaimer of "at a general election", he would say:

      "Make History by electing the second ever Greens MP to the lower house."

      Of course, that's not very sexy or exciting.

      The fact remains that Michael Organ did not set the world of fire. He did not deliver for his constituents. He did not achieve anything other than a few rambling speeches in Parliament. His presence didn't hold Labor accountable. It didn't stop Howard from doing all the things he did.

      In fact, Michael Organ failed at all the things that Adam Bandt expects people to believe that he would achieve if he was elected. I would suggest that Michael Organ wasn't the problem, but that the Greens Party in the lower house would be entirely ineffectual regardless of the candidate.

      I'm not advocating a two-party system. There are independent MPs who consistently get over 50% of the primary vote in their electorates.

      If Adam Bandt got elected in Melbourne, he would do so with approx. 25-30% of the vote, defeating a candidate with just under 50%. If Adam Bandt were elected, it would be with minority primary vote support, and only through the tactical preference allocation of the Liberal Party. Hardly democratic or transparent. I'm sure the Greens Party would admit that a candidate with 49% of the vote is more legitimate than one with 25% of the vote. (Of course, I recognise that our preferential system allows for minority candidates and for sneaky and tactical preference arrangements.)

      • Adam Bandt has indeed made history by becoming the first Green elected to the House of Reps at a general election, just as I made history by becoming the first Green elected to the House of Reps at a national election – the fact that it was a by-election is a separate element, but no less legitimate. The Cunningham by-election took on a national focus when the then leader of the Opposition – Simon Crean – stated that he would resign if Labor lost, and Mark Latham declared the steel works would close down if I were elected. None of which happened, of course. … So much for ALP fear-mongering. As for my achievements – they were many and varied. My election was a win for the local community, who had been saddled with Labor domination for decades and who looked to our democratic systems for change. By electing a Green they achieved change, and there was a lot of local support for that. It may have seemed intangible for somebody living far away in Victoria, but it was real. Secondly, as the federal member for Cunningham I achieved a lot, along with my staff, in making representations and raising issues both locally and nationally, and in the parliament. The fact that Howard and the ALP would not even consider issues such as the Bill of Rights we drafted says more about the failure of the major parties to take on substantive issues. I was a single voice amongst 150, with only the power to speak. As a lobbyist, I am sure that you appreciate such power has its limitations. I raised issues in the House that the major parties would not, including those concerning Aborigines, death at the workplace and job losses as a result of free trade agreements. Plus a lot more. I wish Adam well and know that he will do a great job for the people of Melbourne, for the Greens, and for this nation. And finally, Mr White – your anti-Green bile is all too obvious, but we live in a democracy and that is fine by me. All the best. Michael Organ, Wollongong

  2. If the community was feeling so 'saddled' by the burden of 'Labor domination' why did they return Labor to the seat in each of the following elections?

    In fact, they felt so saddled that Sharon Bird won 53% of the vote in 2007.


  1. timwattsau - July 20, 2010

    "Bob Brown and the rest of the Greens Party campaigners have forgotten about Michael Organ."

  2. Alexander White - July 21, 2010

    @RichardDiNatale You said to @timwattsau that Bandt was clear it's "elected at a general election", but you're wrong:

  3. Matt Kunkel - July 23, 2010

    RT @alexanderwhite: Have the Greens been ignoring the first ever Greens MP in lower house? Or am I being unfair?

  4. Alexander White - August 3, 2010

    @benraue The real frauds and wastes-of-space are the Greens. 1st Green in HoReps achieved nothing in 2 years.

  5. Alexander White - August 3, 2010

    @benraue Having Green MP in Parl is useless:

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