Federal Greens deputy leader Christine Milne is positioning herself as the likely successor to retirement age party boss Bob Brown, although younger more radical Sarah Hanson-Young is keen to rain on her pragmatic parade. Readers will recall Hanson-Young challenged Milne for the party deputy leadership in a secret Greens party meeting shortly after the last federal poll.
Sophie Morris for The Financial Review magazine (offline) reports that:
â€œMachiavelli is an unlikely inspiration for Greens deputy leader Christine Milne as she tries to forge a deal that will define not only her future but her partyâ€™s as wellâ€¦â€
Inadvertently aiding Sarah Hanson-Youngâ€™s case against her rival, it continues:
â€œAlong with having more experience of power-sharing than most politicians, her guiding principle comes not from Aquinas but Machiavelli.â€
The article â€“ well worth a read â€“ quotes business figures telling the journalist that they â€œconsider (Milne) obstinate and difficult to deal with.â€
Yet Milne insists she is a model of pragmatism and even cynicism.
She admits her two decades in elective office have involved â€œendless compromises to get outcomes.â€
â€œAs if to underscore her pragmatism, she reveals that one of the quotations that has guided her throughout her career is from that most ruthless realist of political advisers, Niccolo Machiavelli. In his treatise on power, The Prince, the 16th-century Florentine wrote that there was â€˜nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the the introduction of a new order of thingsâ€™.
Positioning as the party pragmatist who quotes Machiavelli is a curious approach for one who wishes to fend off a feisty young challenger.
Turning sixty-seven years old next year, Bob Brownâ€™s departure after the next election is guaranteed. While heâ€™s a healthy old bloke in that annoying way spritely doctors can have, the party wonâ€™t want to be lead by a bloke in his or very close to his 70s. His departure will deprive them of what has previously been their most politically effective operator and set the stage for an epic fight between the extremist-left parts of the Greens and the more traditional anti-development environmentalist Greens. Milne will have to get a lot smarter than quoting Machiavelli if she wants to avoid being the victim of Sarah Hanson-Youngâ€™s mobilisation of the increasingly stridently leftist mainland membership of the Greens party against the more pragmatic and power-mad Tasmanian branch.