Greens leader’s shock resignation
Richard Di Natale has resigned as leader of the Greens and is set to leave parliament entirely within months.
Dr Di Natale says he wants to spend more time with his family, and has been considering his decision to quit politics over the summer break. He has two sons, Luca and Ben, who are 11 and nine years old, respectively.
"The time right for me, my family and for the Greens," Dr Di Natale told Nine Newspaper this morning.
"It's a tough, demanding job. It's been a privilege to do it. But I've got to the point in my life where I've got two young boys, I want to be there for them.
"Being away for half the year from a young family has just become, for me, too difficult. And when I've got my youngest boy saying, 'I wish you weren't a politician dad, because we don't see you,' it's telling you something."
The Greens will elect a new leader at their party room meeting tomorrow. Dr Di Natale will remain in the Senate until the party settles on a replacement for his seat.
The position of deputy leader will also be decided tomorrow. Senator Larissa Waters currently shares the role with the Greens' sole lower house MP, Adam Bandt. Both will be seen as contenders for the leadership.
This morning I took the incredibly difficult decision to step down as Parliamentary Leader of the @Greens. It’s not something easily put into words because representing this incredible movement has been one of the biggest honours of my life. Farewell and thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/WAOHl7neW0— Richard Di Natale (@RichardDiNatale) February 3, 2020
There are 10 Greens in parliament - Mr Bandt in the House of Representatives, plus nine senators - so it's a fairly small pool of options from which to choose.
Dr Di Natale said transitioning to a new leader now would give his replacement "a good opportunity to launch into the next election".
Shortly after the news of his resignation broke, he posted a video on social media fully explaining the decision.
"It's been an honour to lead the Greens in the federal parliament and fight every day for the values that millions of Australians care so deeply about," Dr Di Natale said.
"It's not a decision I've come to lightly, because leading this incredible movement for nearly five years has been one of the biggest honours of my life.
"But my boys are nine and 11 years old now, and they've only ever known their dad as a busy and tired, and sometimes grumpy politician. They're growing up quickly, and I want to spend more time by their side than a relentless political schedule allows."
Addressing the Greens' members and supporters, Dr Di Natale admitted the news would come as "a bit of a shock".
"I do leave with a great sense of optimism," he said.
"Because of you, last year we achieved our second-best federal election result ever.
"We've achieved so much together these past 10 years. I'm so proud to have led a party that demanded marriage equality from the start. To be the driving force behind royal commissions into the banking and finance sector and disability sector. To have won cross-party support for a federal anti-corruption watchdog.
"And of course, what stands out was establishing a world-leading price on carbon in partnership with the Gillard government back in 2011.
"I remain filled with confidence that our country can take major action on the climate crisis, and gain all the benefits of a transformative transition that leaves no one behind."
Dr Di Natale said he was not sure what he would do next.
"I intend to continue to make a positive contribution to all of the things I've been passionate about my entire adult life - Green politics, climate change, health, all of the issues facing First Nations people, and tackling inequality," he said.
"And of course, there's going to be more time for me to cuddle my boys and to support my wife in her career, because she sacrificed so much to support mine.
"What I do know is I won't be following the well-worn path of politicians who spruik for the fossil fuels industry, the gambling industry or the banks."
Before entering parliament in 2011 as a senator for Victoria, Dr Di Natale worked as a GP. He started his political career as the Greens' health spokesman, and then succeeded Christine Milne as leader of the party when she resigned in 2015.
He is expected to hold a press conference shortly.
More to come.