The Greens: Their Role and Agenda in State Politics

The Greens embrace a global view of environmental problems and solutions. They question the private ownership of property and resources that underpins democratic capitalism.

Their approach is informed by their roots in the community legal centre movement and human rights groups. It can be seen in their choice of parliamentary leaders, with Sarah Hanson-Young and Robert Simms both drawn from this world.

Climate Change

The human-induced climate crisis is a major global threat to ecosystems, biodiversity and humanity. It requires a comprehensive, systemic response that reduces national greenhouse gas emissions and plans to adapt to the impacts of climate change. South Australia needs to become carbon neutral or net negative by 2035, end subsidies for fossil fuels and invest in clean energy technologies. The government should also support sustainable forestry, agriculture and aquaculture practices that harness plants’ natural ability to absorb and store carbon, restore native vegetation, sea grass beds and marine kelp forests and provide retraining and transition assistance to communities and workers as industries move towards sustainability.

Greens State MPs at the recent election included environmental lawyer Mark Parnell, who won a seat in the lower house on a primary vote of 7.7% and was the party’s best performer in Adelaide. Sean Cullen-MacAskill won a seat in the upper house and Prof Barbara Pocock was elected as SA’s newest senator, gaining a Senate spot on a primary vote of 11.9%.

While the Greens’ primary votes have fallen in the state, they remain stronger than nationally, with a strong presence in inner city seats such as Melbourne’s Higgins (22.7%), Sydney’s Grayndler (18.9%), Canberra’s Denison (14.8%) and Brisbane’s Wentworth (16.9%). In 2019, they have contested Liberal-held city-based seats in Adelaide (Higgins, Boothby and Mayo) and in suburbs around the state such as Kooyong, Curtin and Batman.

The Greens are preferencing independent candidates in urban seats and Labor in regional areas to promote their climate action agenda. The party’s parliamentary leader, Christine Milne, has been a fierce critic of the federal government’s decision to repeal laws against euthanasia and has called for greater state powers to protect the environment. Newspoll this week has the Greens primary vote steady at 9%, down from 12% six months ago.


The Greens have a health policy focused on the social determinants of wellbeing, including education and employment. They oppose discrimination, and support a universal basic income, and policies that ensure access to quality healthcare. They would ban new coal, unconventional gas and underground coal gasification projects, and subsidise solar panel and battery storage on all government buildings, including hospitals, schools and tenanted public housing properties.

The party advocates for a more equitable work culture, and supports fair wages and conditions for all workers, with a view that work should be rewarding, energising and meaningful. The Greens want a rethink of work laws, to allow unions to prosecute workplace breaches more effectively, and to water down the laws that restrict independent contractors.

They have also pledged to set up a ‘psychologist subsidy scheme’, aimed at young people and low income earners, who are often too afraid to seek professional help due to the cost. This could be a key step towards implementing the Greens’ policy of introducing a national health insurance scheme, which would be funded by a carbon tax.

The Greens are hoping to retain their three seats in the upper house, and increase their vote in the seat of Adelaide. University of South Australia social scientist Sophie Guy has been preselected, and told InDaily that she is ‘in it to win’. The Greens’ main rival in the seat is Labor candidate Kate Ellis, and Guy will need to attract a big swing to win the seat. She says the Greens’ focus on mental health is an important factor in winning the seat, and the party’s ‘environmental integrity’ will be key to delivering on promises made to voters.


The Greens believe that education is a fundamental human right and that schools should be free for all. They are committed to eliminating fees, charges and ‘voluntary contributions’ in public schools and abolishing them in VET and university. They also want to restore funding to the Gonski model, as well as addressing issues of social disadvantage by providing targeted funding for Aboriginal students and increasing the number of support workers in schools. They also commit to removing barriers to student participation in school life, including by ensuring that the arts and physical activity are integrated into the curriculum.

The Greens are opposed to privatisation of Government assets unless there is a clear public benefit and they will ensure that all Government procurement and publicly-funded projects source locally-made goods and services whenever possible. They will support the establishment of a public energy company that provides clean, affordable and local renewable electricity to low-income households. They will also support measures to make it easier for people to access housing by updating the National Construction Code to include minimum mandatory accessibility standards.

Disabled people face significant barriers to achieving a good quality of life. The Greens want to eliminate these barriers and make sure that disabled people are provided with the services they need. They will reform disability policies, strengthen the rights of people with disabilities and make it easier for them to access jobs. They will also support the reintroduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme and expand Medicare to cover dental care and mental health.

The Greens are committed to a fairer society and will improve the wellbeing of everyone in our state. We will tackle climate change, make big businesses and billionaires pay their fair share of tax and guarantee universal health coverage in Medicare.

Animal Welfare

The Greens believe animals are sentient beings and that the welfare of animals should be a primary consideration in society. The Greens are also committed to ending the suffering of animals caused by human activities, as well as preventing environmental damage that affects the survival of animal species.

The South Australian Greens support a ban on commercial production of eggs from caged hens. The Greens also support a ban on the sale of meat from animals that have been reared in battery cages, and a national scheme for certification of free-range, organic and biodynamic animal products.

As part of their vision for a sustainable economy, the Greens support an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a move towards a carbon pricing scheme. The Greens also support policies to encourage a diverse and vibrant local economy, with a focus on the arts, education, community development and sustainable agriculture.

In addition, the Greens advocate a shift in the balance of economic activity to more locally-based employment and an end to excessive speculation in property. They also advocate for the establishment of a genuine progress indicator in place of gross state product as a measure of state performance and promote measures to minimise government debt and deficit.

The Greens are powered by a huge network of volunteers and members, whose grassroots approach has seen the Greens succeed at every level of politics, from local councils to the federal parliament. Join your local Greens branch to meet like-minded people, talk politics and policy, and get involved in fundraising and campaigning for the Greens. It’s a great way to make a difference in your community. Join a branch today!


With climate change a central issue for many voters, it was expected to be a major talking point for the Greens in the state election. Yet it has been largely overlooked by the major parties, with headlines instead focused on a crisis in health and a looming energy price rise.

The Greens are committed to addressing the climate crisis. They want a ban on new coal and unconventional gas projects, and a shift to renewables. They would increase investment in solar and other clean energy technologies, remove subsidies for fossil fuels and invest public funds in climate change mitigation sectors. They would also impose a carbon tax on big businesses and make companies pay their fair share of tax.

Getting dirt money out of politics is another key Greens priority. They want to ban all donations from fossil fuel corporations and cap other political donations, and lift parliamentary standards with an enforceable code of conduct and truth in political advertising laws. They also want to put a cap on media ownership and end the sway of Rupert Murdoch, who is using his News Corp papers and Sky television to push a national agenda that suits his fossil fuel interests.

Other environment issues include the need to protect and restore the state’s natural habitats, re-establish a sustainable pastoral industry that does not permanently damage native vegetation and supports biodiversity, and ensure livestock grazing practices are environmentally sustainable. They want to provide resources for the Native Vegetation Council to improve compliance with existing grazing regulations, and develop finer-grained threatened species recovery plans that recognise regional variations in population trends. They would also introduce a metropolitan-wide tree planting program to improve air quality and reduce urban temperatures, promote sustainable water management and reduce flooding risks, and strengthen legislative protections for regulated and significant trees.