It’s the end of an era for the Greens (WA), and also a harsh reminder that talent and hard work alone are no guarantee of a seat in Parliament when the conservative tide turns.
In May we gathered at events to celebrate and acknowledge the work of our MPs Giz Watson and Alison Xamon MLC. Both, in their own ways strongly exemplify the qualities we hope for in our representatives; that of activist legislators, with one foot in the Parliament and one in the networks of community organising that have always been the backbone of our party. Between the two of them, our party was able to focus and represent on behalf of marine campaigners, anti-nuclear activists, trade unions, the aged, the very young, black, white, gay, straight, the most marginalised in the community and those left behind.
Both MLCs have also won the deep, grudging respect of those who they went into the chamber on many occasions to oppose. In a room with a conservative skew as deep as that of the Western Australian Legislative Council, that’s not an easy thing to win.
The Parliament has lost an elder with a 16 year history of legislative reform. It has also lost a slightly more recent arrival, a fiery campaigner who had a long parliamentary career still in front of her, but for our shifting electoral fortunes. This impacts most directly our MPs and their friends and families, but also the hard-working staff, and the extended networks of volunteers and campaigners who come to rely on the office and agency that green representation provides.
The Greens (WA) is a nuggety, resilient organisation, and we’ve had many reversals in the past from which we’ve strongly recovered. As an organisation that occupies the space between a political party and a big extended family, we pause, reflect, try to understand, and mostly, we offer thanks, to Giz and Alison, for everything you’ve given, and everything you’ve given up, to represent us over the years in the Legislative Council of Western Australia.