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Global Green Party History Chronology - 1972

A large public meeting gathered at the Hobart Town Hall in Tasmania's capital, to found the United Tasmania Group (UTG), the world's first Green political party. The UTG was formed in response to Tasmanian government proposals to flood and drown Lake Pedder, an Australian National Park, as part of a proposed dam and hydopower project. (See video retrospective about the founding of the UTG.)

Dr. Richard Jones, chair of Lake Pedder Action Committee, became the inaugural leader of the UTG. He wrote a pamphlet to outline the group's program, entitled New Ethic, which included philosophies about community and political integrity in addition to environmental protection. In doing so, he made it clear that the UTG was a movement for social and political change, as well as for environmental conservation.

The new group also focused on an immediate electoral opportunity -- an unexpected General Election scheduled for April 21st. (In March 1972, for reasons unrelated to the Lake Pedder issue, a Member of the Legislative Assembly who was the sole representative of his party resigned. His party held the balance of power, and his resignation precipitated the General Election.)

The attendees saw this as an opportunity to put Lake Pedder before the public eye on a mass scale. The group resolved that "In order that there is a maximum usage of a unique political opportunity to save Lake Pedder, now an issue of global and national concern, and to implement a national well-researched conservation plan for the State of Tasmania, there be formed a Single Independent Coalition of primarily conservation-minded candidates and their supporters."

The "Save Lake Pedder" campaign resulted in the first large coordinated environmental demonstrations seen in Australia and was a symbolic turning point in galvanising the environmental movement in Australia and internationally.

Unfortunately, the dam went ahead and the lake was flooded. However, the next hydropower project -- the proposed damming of the Franklin River -- was stopped in 1983,when the Australian High Court ruled four to three in favor of the Australian Commonwealth over the Tasmanian state government to stop the dam.

Today efforts to restore Lake Pedder continue, with the help of former Green member of Australia Senate from Tasmania, Bob Brown.

April 21: Tasmanian Greens First To Participate In Elections

Just four weeks after its founding meeting,the United Tasmanian Group (UTG) participated in its first election, for Tasmanian Parliament. The UTG fielded 12 candidates in four out of Tasmanian five 7 member electorates, with most of them stood in the two Hobart-based urban electorates of Denison and Franklin.

The first Green Party ever to contest an election, the UTG received 3.9% of the vote overall in the state, and nearly 7% in the Denison and Franklin electorates, where it concentrated its efforts. UTG leader Richard Jones just missed out on being elected in Denison

For the 1972 election the UTG produced two key policy sheets, one on conservation and one on economics. The eight point economic policy stressed conservation of natural resources, economic diversification and improved research and marketing. The conservation policy was quite specific to the Tasmanian context, listing actual sites to be protected and local environmental concerns to be addressed.

Later in 1972 the UTG ran for the federal House of Representatives seat of Denison, and won 4% of the total vote, exceeding the vote of longer established minor parties such as the Democratic Labor Party and the Australia Party.

With only a month to organise policy and process, the UTG did not emerge as a fully-fledged legal party in time for the election. It would not be until 1974 that they became a formally constituted political party, and then it developed The New Ethic into a full fledged electoral platform.

May 30: World's First National Green Party Founded in New Zealand

The world's first national Green Party - the Values Party -- was founded on this day in Wellington, New Zealand.

The meeting was held at the Student Union Hall at Victoria University and Values Party founder Tony Brunt present the party's initial platform.

To restore quality of life, he argued, it was necessary to restore or create a sense of community,and to stop over-emphasising "economic growth, technological advance, the importance of consumer goods in our lives, increasing productivity, competition between people, individualism and increasing profits."

The common thread connecting Values philosophy, he claimed, was a humanism based upon meeting "the needs of people and not the needs of the system". A new political synthesis was forming around this view, he argued, especially among young people. Himself a 24 year-old political science student , Brunt's move presaged an environmental generation in New Zealand and across the planet.

September 8: Plane of Tasmanian Green Brenda Hean Disappears

In a mysterious disappearance that was never investigated, let alone solved, the plane of environmentalist Brenda Hean and her pilot Max Price mysteriously disappeared somewhere en route from Tasmania to the Australian capital of Canberra to lobby politicians against the flooding of Lake Pedder by Tasmania's Hydro Electricity Commission (HEC).

Hean, a United Tasmanian Group (UTG) candidate in the April parliamentary elections, had planned to fly to Canberra to write ‘Save Lake Pedder” in the air above Australian Parliament. But the Tiger Moth airplane she boarded that fateful day never arrived, disappearing some where between Hobart’s Cambridge Airport and Flinder's Island, despite Price’s reputation as one of Tasmania’s most experienced and capable pilots. Neither Hean nor Price were ever heard from again and no wreckage of their plane was ever found.

Suspicion of foul play quickly arose, particularly when it was revealed that on the night before the plane took off, someone broke into its hangar with an axe and likely removed the Tiger Moth’s emergency beacon. And a few days before that, Hean had received an anonymous phone call with an inherent death threat asking, “how would she like to go for a swim?”

The UTG placed a newspaper advertisement urging the government to investigate the incident, but the Labor Premier of the day, Eric Reece, refused to set up an independent judicial inquiry and the government took no action. At the time, UTG founder Dr. Richard Jones said he had “been told quite seriously that there was top-level political direction to play down the inquiry. Public efforts to see the police files covering the incident were blocked well into the 1990s and to this day, former Australian Green Senator Bob Brown believes there was foul play and continues to call for a full investigation.

Born in Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart in 1910, Hean had been a frequent visitor to Lake Pedder, both on walking and flying excursions, and played a key role in the Save Lake Pedder movement. First she helped set up the Save Lake Pedder National Park Committee, which brought together conservationist organizations and individuals to lobbied quietly, but unfortunately, unsuccessfully. Next Hean joined Jones and other independent conservationists in setting up the Lake Pedder Action Committee (LPAC), which took a more activist stance.

For nine months they campaigned hard, collecting signatures on a petition, lobbying, and organizing a major symposium on ‘The HEC, the environment and the government in Tasmania’, which was held in November 1971. Over a quarter of a million signatures were collected on the petition. However, when it was presented to the Tasmanian parliament the Attorney General refused to accept it, giving as the reason that it was ‘ ...in conflict with government policy....’

In April 1972 Hean ran as a UTG candidate in the Tasmanian Parliamentary elections to bring attention to Lake Pedder’s plight and later camped at the Pedder lakeside Vigil even as the floodwaters rose.

Price was born in 1915 at Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania. Flying was his interest and profession and flew the World War II vintage 'Tiger Moth' to Lake Pedder several times, with his open air plane even the source of story for a children's fiction book on Pedder, released by co-incidence a few months after the disappearance.

October 21- 22: New Zealand Values Party Holds First National Conference

November 23: Values Party Contests New Zealand National Elections

Whether it was the ideas -- or the dramatic way they were presented -- the New Zealand Values Party received approximately 27,600 votes in its first election ever, contesting the nation's General Election for parliament. This represented 3.7% of the vote, in the forty-two seats where Values stood candidates. There were 87 seats overall.

Running on the party's manifesto "Blueprint for New Zealand: An Alternative Future", Values finished with the third most votes of any party in thirteen of the forty-two electorates. Overall, 55 seats were won by the Labour Party (led by Norman Kirk) and 32 by the National Party. No minor party won seats.

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