September 2015

It’s a case of “much transparency, such openness” from the Australian Greens.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has reshuffled the Green’s party room, but you wouldn’t know it from him. There hasn’t been so much as a media release or statement about the reshuffle from Di Natale.

Instead, the Greens have simply updated the portfolio responsibilities list on their website and issued an updated contact list to journalists.

How the Greens see fit to notify people about changes to their Parliamentary team.

How the Greens see fit to notify people about changes to their Parliamentary team.

The only public indication from Greens’ federal parliamentarians has been this brief statement from Lee Rhiannon.

The content of the unadvertised reshuffle further demonstrates that the Greens are a party lurching rightwards.

Lee Rhiannon and Janet Rice have been stripped of key campaign portfolio responsibilities, on the same day Richard di Natale has indicated he will work with the Liberal party on refugees and marriage equality.

Lee Rhiannon’s work in higher education, especially in the critical and much neglected TAFE sector, has consistently won kudos and respect from officials in both of the major education unions. Lee Rhiannon is also publicly identified as the most consistently left wing Greens parliamentarian.

The portfolio reshuffle sees responsibility for higher education go to South Australia’s yet-to-be-appointed replacement for Penny Wright, Robert Simms.

Robert Simms has also picked up responsibility for the LBGTI and Marriage Equality portfolio from Victorian Senator Janet Rice. Within the Greens this is a key campaigning portfolio; its move away from someone associated with the left based in Melbourne to an Adelaide based newcomer is significant.

In a sick twist sure to disappoint Greens supporters in the education sector, new Tasmanian Senator Nick McKim has been given the “Schools” portfolio.

In 2011 McKim served as Minister for Education in a Tasmanian Labor dominated government where he oversaw significant cuts to public education funding in that state. The appointment of McKim to this role is unsurprising given their new leader. Within the Greens Di Natale is said to oppose the Greens’ longstanding commitment to free tertiary education.

The Australian Greens under Richard di Natale are continuing their trajectory to the right. If those who identify as ‘the left’ within the Greens do not successfully fight this trajectory, they will have become little more than window dressing for a right wing party in much the same fashion as the Labor left.

Assuming they have not already.


Nick McKim has now released a presser celebrating his new portfolio responsibilities. It includes the following:

“I will work with my colleagues to champion entrepreneurship and the collaborative economy, which will be real economic drivers into the future.”

“I will be a fierce advocate for small business, and will continue the great work done by Senator Peter Whish-Wilson to ensure they get a level playing field to compete with the large corporations.

“The Greens will present an alternative vision for the economy that looks to the innovators, small businesses and entrepreneurs to generate sustainable wealth and prosperity in the 21st Century.”

The NSW Young Greens have posted a statement on their Facebook page which includes the following:

The NSW Young Greens object to the decision to remove the Higher Education portfolio from Senator Lee Rhiannon.

This decision will hurt the entire education movement across the country. Activists, students, NAPU and NTEU & AEU members have relied on the support of Senator Rhiannon for many years, and have developed a strong working relationship with her. These close relationships, and the actions Senator Rhiannon has taken, have allowed the Greens to be at the forefront of the campaign against deregulation, and together we have played a key role in defeating it. This decision will, in many ways, alienate thousands of young people and union members from the Greens.

The NSW Young Greens would also like to object more broadly to the manner in which portfolios are chosen in the Australian Greens Party Room.

The Sydney University Education Action Group has posted this:

Chris Pyne losing the Education portfolio is an unsurprising attempt by the Turnbull government to save face in light of failed higher education reform. In the midst of the shambles of Federal politics, we’re devastated to hear that the The Australian Greens have inexplicably replaced Lee Rhiannon as their higher education spokesperson, in what many are interpreting as a rightward lurch.

Further Update:

Sky News posted Greens reshuffle while all eyes on PM late last night:

The Greens have reshuffled their party room in a move overshadowed by of Malcolm Turnbull’s first day as prime minister.

New South Wales Senator Lee Rhiannon lost the higher education portfolio, while Victorian Senator Janet Rice is no longer the spokesperson for same-sex marriage and LGTBI issues.

The move is likely to further anger certain sections of the party’s membership already concerned about the lack of transparency and consultation shown during May’s leadership spill.

Meanwhile others have been wondering what on earth Di Natale was doing at this last week.

Wednesday Updates

New Matilda running with Anger In NSW After Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon Loses Higher Education Portfolio:

Despite playing a prominent role in the push-back against Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s attempts to deregulate the higher education sector, Rhiannon has lost the portfolio to New South Australian Senator-designate Robert Simms, who has also received the high profile LGBTI and Marriage Equality roles.

New Matilda understands the ultimate responsibility for redistributing portfolios lies with Greens leader Richard Di Natale, and that MPs were informed of the final changes at a party room meeting on Tuesday morning.

Green Left Weekly has picked it up with Federal Greens leader sidelines two popular Green MPs.

Thursday / Friday Updates

Crikey ran an article (paywalled) on Thursday entitled Greens’ sneaky portfolio reshuffle upsets NSW branch.

A couple of of commentors in the thread below have pointed to this blog post by Richard di Natale on the Greens magazine website. Apparently it proves the Green’s total openness, transparency and lack of a rightward shift.

See Also

New Matilda, New Greens Boss Richard Di Natale Forced To Clarify Israel Stance.
SBS, Pension Changes to Pass with Greens support.
Kieran’s Review, 5 reasons the Greens aren’t good enough on asylum seekers.

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