The news that Bob Brown has stood down as leader of the Australian Greens came as a shock to me.

Bob Brown has been part of the Australian political landscape for over 16 years and before that a well known identity in Tasmania. My first memory of him was his stand against the building of a dam on the Franklin River in Tasmania in 1982/83. He was an inspiration and stirred my interest in the environment and the need to re-think how I used the environment. For me he stands out from other people for his integrity, conviction and ability to remain calm amidst strident opposition.

Bob Brown joined the  first ever Greens Political Party (the United Tasmania Group) which has culminated in the Australian Greens, established the Australian Bush Heritage Fund and was appointed director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society.

He’s been an absolutely strong voice for the environment, minority groups and setting right injustices (e.g. banning the battery hen industry). He has stirred the status quo of political life in Tasmania and then nationally.  Bob Brown could be trusted, something that is sadly missing in Australian politics.

It’s very interesting that political figures (from both sides of politics) such as Eric Abetz (a Liberal Senator from Tasmania) fundamentally dislike Bob Brown as Alan Ramsay (quoted from Steve Biddulph’s article on the Tasmanian Times) said:

“There’s venom in Abetz’s voice when he talks of Brown. The veteran political commentator Alan Ramsay says this is typical, as Brown is widely loathed by politicians from both major parties. ‘He represents everything that they are not,’ Ramsay tells me. ‘He is a man of conviction, a thoroughly honest man, a man of principle. They see in him what they want to be and they hate him for it.’”

I’ve read lots of articles about how well the Greens will go without him. I don’t know and right now, I don’t think anyone can say with certainty how the Greens will go. Christine Milne is politically savvy and good at negotiation. She doesn’t have the same charisma as Bob Brown but she too has conviction, integrity and can be trusted. What the Greens have done is conducted their political life through not demeaning or hating others, so rare when one considers the ALP and Liberal behaviour.

Australian public life will be poorer for his departure and here’s his National Press Club speech on the expanded Green parliamentary team … a Living National Treasure