RICHARD WILLINGHAM April 14, 2012
On the rise: Adam Bandt. Photo: Andrew Meares
MELBOURNE MP Adam Bandt has continued his meteoric rise in politics, winning the Greens' deputy leadership just 18 months after he seized a safe Labor seat.
Mr Bandt, who won the Greens' first seat in the lower house at the 2010 general election, is a former industrial lawyer with Slater & Gordon. He was the first cross-bencher to support Prime Minister Julia Gillard's push to form minority government.
He said yesterday that he had had no warning that Senator Brown was about to stand down. But he said he was ready to give his constituents a bigger voice as deputy leader and to show the Greens were the most economically responsible party.
Mr Bandt defeated Sarah Hanson-Young and Scott Ludlam for the position but the Greens are keeping the tally secret.
Mr Bandt, who was once an ALP member, first ran for the seat of Melbourne at the 2007 election, (when he took the Greens vote up to 23 per cent, from 18) before winning the seat in 2010. He was elected on a platform of a fair go for asylum seekers, climate change action and same-sex marriage - issues he has continued to champion - and was successful in securing disillusioned ALP voters.
His role as deputy is seen as bold by some because he is not guaranteed to retain the seat at the next election, especially if the Liberal Party preferences against the Greens as it did in the 2010 Victorian election.
But the Bandt camp is confident he can retain the seat. They are buoyed by a Galaxy Poll last year that found even if the Liberals preferenced away from the Greens, Mr Bandt was likely to win. The September poll gave Mr Bandt a two-party vote win of 56-44 per cent - even with the Liberals preferencing Labor.
Monash University politics lecturer Dr Paul Strangio said Mr Bandt would have the advantage of incumbency and being a first-term MP. Dr Strangio said if anything, Mr Bandt's rise to deputy leader would boost his profile.
Mr Bandt said having a leader in both houses cemented the Greens as the third political force in Australia.
''It reinforces that we are serious about replacing the old parties not just holding them to account.''
He denied the rise was a ''stepping stone'' to becoming leader, adding that: ''Unlike other political parties we have not ripped ourselves apart over a leadership change.''
Mr Bandt is currently the party's spokesman on workplace relations and banking, positions he would like to retain, but he said that was up to Senator Milne to decide.
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