Since appearing in the 1970s, Green parties have grown from obscurity to electoral prominence globally. The Australian Greens trace their origins to various social movements in Australia, and could be said to have originally been a movement party. However, as the party has grown and become electorally successful changes have occurred within the structure, organisation and modes of operation. While some of these changes are in response to an increased membership, they also represent a shift towards a new organisational form: the electoral professional party. There is now greater emphasis on the party organisation and electoral success that marks a shift in emphasis from the party in the electorate to the parliamentary party. Have, then, the Greens moved from being a movement party to an electoral professional party?
To trace the importance and impact of these changes within the Australian Greens this thesis examines two groups within the party, activists and staff, through survey and interview. The analysis demonstrates that some aspects of movement operations still exist within the party, but views supporting these are more likely to be held by long-term members. In the last ten years there has been a major expansion of the party’s vote and membership. Recently recruited members are more comfortable with changes that move the Greens towards being a professionally organised party that focuses chiefly on electoral success. While staff generally act as interlocutors between the party organization and MPs, they also have divergent positions on party priorities and leadership, with party-based staff advocating far greater membership input into both strategic and leadership discussions. Therefore there is still some ambivalence towards the changes, indicating that the party sits in a unique place in Australian politics somewhere between a movement and electoral professional party.