Difficult Homework Bob Brown

Emma Alberici speaks to former Greens party leader Bob Brown about the resignation of Greens deputy leader Larissa Waters after she realised she still holds dual citizenship.

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Greens Deputy leader Larissa Waters has followed in the footsteps of her colleague, Scott Ludlam, announcing her resignation from the Senate today after discovering she, too, holds dual citizenship.

She was born in Canada and didn't renounce her citizenship before returning - running, rather, for office making her ineligible to serve in the Federal Parliament. The Senate face twos recounts, Scott Ludlam was forced to quits last week after the revelation he is still a New Zealand citizen. When announcing her resignation, Larissa Waters couldn't hide her disappointment.

LARISSA WATERS, EXITING GREENS DEPUTY LEADER: I just want to apologise to, um, my party. And to all of the wonderful Queenslanders that I have been so proud to represent in the last six years. It's been a real honour to speak for them and to stand-up for things I'm passionate for.

EMMA ALBERICI: Richard Di Natale says he's gutted by Larissa Waters' resignation but insists he's taking steps to ensure the mistake won't happen again.

RICHARD DI NATALE, GREENS LEADER: I note today, many of them will be frustrated. I share your frustration. I have immediately spoken to our two national co-conveners and we are committed to a thorough root and branch review so we strengthen our governance, improve our internal processes and we make sure that this never happens again.

EMMA ALBERICI: Bob Brown is the former leader of the Greens. He joined me earlier from Hobart. Bob Brown, welcome back to Lateline.


EMMA ALBERICI: You could say to lose one Deputy may be regarded as a misfortune but to lose both looks like carelessness?

BOB BROWN: Well, I'm sure Oscar Wilde would have an even better line about that, but whatever way you look at it, it is a misfortune for my two good friends, Scott and Larissa, and for the Greens - and for their voters and supporters.

But we'll - the Greens are going to plough through this, theyve got a huge role to play in Australian politics', and these two people have left the Senate not through any malfeasance or skullduggery, but through an innocent inadvertence. And my heart goes out to them.

EMMA ALBERICI: Do you feel some level of responsibility here, given both were recruited under your watch?

BOB BROWN: Look - no, I think the party processes, I didn't go through the nomination processes with these good folk. I was well aware of this glitch, and in Tasmania was making sure that candidates who came forward were aware of it.

But they didn't know about it. You know, they didn't - they certainly knew where they were born but they didn't know about the citizenship that's still carried with them down the line. They're intelligent people, they're good people. We all are subject to making sometimes what shocks us - decisions in life that with another go we wouldn't make.

And I put it down to - they're not the Rupert Murdoch's of the world that sold their citizenship for some other reason that's not in Australia's interests. These are two people who were really there serving Australia and serving the future of Australia on the behalf of Green voters in a way which speaks for itself.

Their record in the Senate is terrific, their record in public life is terrific and they got a lot more to give to public life in the future.

EMMA ALBERICI: When you refer to the glitch, do you mean the lax vetting procedures?

BOB BROWN: Look, the Greens don't have - is a federation of parties. And you would have heard me talk about this before, Emma, that we don't have that strong secretariat in Canberra which is able to scope at national level to make sure that indeed the eyes Is are dot and the Ts are crossed in this way. The Labor Party does, the Coalition does. And we're being held back from that.

And I note that today Richard Di Natale, the Greens' leader, has said there'd be a root and branch review. Good thing, because some of our state parties need to know that the federal party has got to be an Australian Greens party which is strong and which provides that sort of scoping ability to watch for mistakes like this that the big parties have.

That said, we are a smaller party, we are growing. This is part of the growing pains. We'll get passed it and we'll get bigger and stronger as we run to the next election.

EMMA ALBERICI: The importance of leaders to small parties, minor parties, can't be overstated, can it? I mean, even more so than major parties. The very survival of the Greens rests on strong leadership, doesn't it?

I mean, one of them, either Scott Ludlam or Larissa Waters, would have had to have been groomed potentially as a future leader. Do you worry now about the void that exists when Richard Di Natale stands down?

BOB BROWN: Well, I don't think Richard is going to stand down, and there are...

EMMA ALBERICI: You wouldn't want him to now!

BOB BROWN: I don't think so. He's a warrior, a Green... and he's going to, you know, lead through this and into the next election. And you've got fantastic other senators, you know. And indeed Adam Bandt in the House of Representatives, one of the more popular members of the House of Representatives because of the performance he puts up for Melbourne.

So the party is going - has got a great depth of leadership. I don't think- I don't know of anybody being groomed for leadership. I just think that that's a matter of the party having a range of options there, and it will into the future.

EMMA ALBERICI: Andrew Bartlett, the former Democrat, hasn't been in the Senate for nine years. If he does come back as a Green, I mean, he knows more than most what can happen to a party when there's destabilisation at the top, ie, after Cheryl Kernot left, and the Greens under your leadership, Bob Brown, took advantage of the vacuum that was created when the Democrats imploded electorally.

EMMA ALBERICI: Yeah, but Cheryl Kernot jumped parties. And without telling her colleagues that she was going to do it. Look, listen...

EMMA ALBERICI: The point of the matter is, when you have problems at the top, it can really be the beginning of an end to a party. You were there leading the Greens, you took advantage of their electoral problems?

BOB BROWN: No, nothing like that, Emma. This is not problems within the party. This is a constitutional- I heard Richard say today, stuff-up.

By the way, I think the constitution needs looking at. Most Australians wouldn't know that this clause in the constitution prevents half Australians, anybody who's in an office- of profit under the Crown, for example, a pensioner or a public servant, for standing for Parliament.

You know, I was pushing for that to be changed. It requires a referendum. It's something that needs reviewing. We're not in 1899, we're in 2017. The world's moving, people move around the world, a lot of people coming to this country have terrific talent to bring to the country - not just in business and in the professions, but in Parliament as well. And we need some failsafe system so that right at the outset, they are aware that they have to drop any other citizenship...

EMMA ALBERICI: So Bob, do you suggest - pardon the interruption, do you suggest the constitution ought to be changed so that dual citizenship is no longer a barrier?

BOB BROWN: No, I'm suggesting it could be changed so that in standing for Parliament, there's an automatic search for your place of birth and get rid of this glitch that otherwise catches people up.

But more importantly, though, I'm suggesting that the prohibition on people who survive on money coming from government, that includes pensioners and public servants, standing for Parliament, it's absurd.

It's antiquated. And people are barred from Parliament under that rule. It should be changed.

In short, like with everything else, we should be reviewing the constitution and where it's causing difficulties for people to stand for Parliament, I reckon the Australian people would support improving the situation, getting rid of at least some of those difficulties.

EMMA ALBERICI: Bob Brown, critics of the Greens like to paint the party as a bunch of idealogues who don't pay particular attention to policy-making and they don't think through consequences. This seems to feed perfectly into that narrative, that the party isn't big on fact-checking. These two didn't even do their homework on their own citizenship status.

BOB BROWN: Well, those critic of the party are involved in a venal and nasty and hateful sort of politics - knock everybody down, kick them as best you can, never let a sucker have a go, as the old saying goes.

I don't go along with that. I think these are delightful good-hearted intelligent people who've made a mistake. And I can only sympathise with them as they go through the agonies of that, and I heard Larissa today apologising for the embarrassment.

No, Larissa, you're a great woman. You are a great Australian citizen. You have contributed greatly to the Senate and to Queenslanders. Don't you be embarrassed as far as I'm concerned. I have you in enormous respect, as with Scott Ludlam.

And let the critics bay and yell and scream. That's standard for being a Green, standing up for a long-term future, which is a much more clear view of where the world is going to and where this country should be going there than either of the old parties have.

I'm very proud of these people. They are human beings, and we'll see a lot more of them in the future, Emma.

EMMA ALBERICI: Might it be safe to assume that Tasmanian Senator Nick McKim is the most likely successor as Deputy?

BOB BROWN: I wouldn't object to that. But Nick's - I had a cup of tea with him today here in Hobart. He's a great guy. Peter Wish-Wilson, the other Senator with his economic background, terrific contributor.

These are quality people. But the other states have them as well. So I'm not going to be betting on any horse there. I'll leave that to the party room.

But you're right in saying - pointing to the fact that there's going to be no shortage of talent to take up that position that's been so sadly now vacated by the loss of these two wonderful people, senators that we have seen in the last fortnight.

EMMA ALBERICI: Let me ask you this in terms of timing, that this has been uncovered. Is it a coincidence that it comes when there is such tension within the party, especially between the federal leadership and the New South Wales Greens and this whole brouhaha with Lee Rhiannon.

BOB BROWN: No, it's got nothing to do with that, but I do think it will lead to a review and that the holding back the Australian Greens, you know, you'll hear Lee Rhiannon talking about they didn't want centralised power. Well, that's what a National Party does and the New South Wales Greens have enormously centralised power in Sydney.

But they have been able to hold back that - the growth of a secretariat and a proper party structure and leadership and direct servicing of members, which I have been talking about a little bit earlier.

I think it is timely that there is a review, not just of what led to the two recent resignations, but the way the Greens need to, as a business-like party, offering Australians the terrific alternatives they have, move more strongly into the future.

And I look forward - I would endorse what Richard is proposing there. I hope it happens and I'm sure the membership will be right behind that.

EMMA ALBERICI: Bob Brown, appreciate your company tonight. Thank you.

BOB BROWN: Thanks, Emma.

После паузы, показавшейся ей вечностью, она прошептала: - Коммандер. И в тот же миг осознала свою ошибку. Она ощутила запах Хейла, но повернулась слишком поздно. И тут же забилась, задыхаясь от удушья. Ее снова сжали уже знакомые ей стальные руки, а ее голова была намертво прижата к груди Хейла.

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