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Robert James "Bob" Brown (born 27 December 1944) is a former Australian Greens politician, medical doctor, environmentalist, former Senator and former Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens. Brown was elected to the Australian Senate on the Tasmanian Greens ticket, joining with sitting Greens Western Australia senator Dee Margetts to form the first group of Australian Greens senators following the 1996 federal election. He was re-elected in 2001 and in 2007. He was the first openly gay member of the Parliament of Australia, and the first openly gay leader of an Australian political party.


While serving in the Tasmanian parliament, Brown successfully campaigned for a large increase in the protected wilderness areas. Brown led the Australian Greens from the party's foundation in 1992 until April 2012, a period in which polls grew to around 10% at state and federal levels (13.9% of the primary vote in 2010). From 2002 to 2004 when minor parties held the balance of power in the Senate, Brown became a well-recognised politician. In October 2003 Brown was the subject of international media interest when he was suspended from the parliament for interjecting during an address by United States president George W. Bush.


On 13 April 2012, Brown resigned as leader of the Greens and indicated his intention to resign from the Senate in June. This occurred on 15 June 2012.


Political career

In 1978 Brown was appointed director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society. In the late 1970s he emerged as a leader of the campaign to prevent construction of the Franklin Dam, which would have drowned the Franklin River valley as part of a hydroelectricity project. Brown was among the 1500 people arrested while protesting during the campaign. He subsequently spent 19 days in Hobart's Risdon Prison. On the day of his release in 1983, he became a member of Tasmania's parliament for the House of Assembly seat of Denison after the Democrats MP Norm Sanders resigned to successfully stand for the Australian Senate; Brown was elected to replace him on a countback. The Franklin campaign was a success after Federal government intervention protected the Franklin River in 1983.


In 1989 Tasmania's system of proportional representation allowed the Greens to win five out of 35 seats in the Tasmanian House of Assembly and Brown became their leader. He agreed to support a minority Labor Party government, on the basis of a negotiated Accord (signed by Michael Field and Bob Brown) in which the Green independents agreed to support the budget but not motions of no confidence, and the ALP agreed to develop a more open parliamentary process, to consult on departmental appointments, provide a legislative research service, parity in parliamentary staffing and a reform agenda which included equal opportunities, freedom of information, national parks protection and public disclosure of bulk power contracts and royalties from mining companies. This agreement, however, broke down over forestry issues in 1992. In 1993 Brown resigned from the House of Assembly and stood unsuccessfully for the federal House of Representatives.


Brown was elected to the Australian Senate for Tasmania in 1996. At the 2001 federal election Brown was re-elected to the Senate with a greatly increased vote, and was outspoken on Prime Minister John Howard's refusal to allow 438 asylum seekers (mostly from Afghanistan) to land on Christmas Island after they had been rescued from their sinking boat in the Indian Ocean by the MV Tampa, a Norwegian freighter. Brown was equally critical of Opposition Leader Kim Beazley's acquiescence to John Howard's stance on the Tampa incident.


On 13 April 2012, Senator Brown resigned as leader of the Greens and announced that he would be resigning from the Senate in June when his replacement was available. His deputy, Christine Milne, became Greens leader, and federal Melbourne MP Adam Bandt became Greens deputy leader. Peter Whish-Wilson, who had formerly stood for the Greens, was selected as Brown's replacement in the Senate.


On 8 January 2013, it was announced that Brown would be taking o. er as director of the Australian chapter of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a non-profit, marine conservation organisation.



December 7, 2011

updated: 2013-07-29

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