IN a West Melbourne warehouse on election night, Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt reclaimed the seat of Melbourne ahead of the Labor candidate Cath Bowtell and Liberal candidate Sean Armistead.
With a DJ in one corner, a bar in the other and live election news projected onto the end wall of the room, the atmosphere was like a dance party but with the lights on. Each time Bandt stood among the crowd before a live TV interview he was met with a deafening wave of applause and whistles.
It was after 10.30pm when Bandt addressed supporters in a 12 minute speech and finally let his hair down.
“The Greens will be ready to hit the ground running from day one to be the real alternative to Tony Abbott,” he said referring to the Labor Party’s failure to retain power under Kevin Rudd and the time it will take Labor to regroup.
“With representation now in both houses of Parliament and [under] the superb leadership of Christine Milne, we are up for the challenge.
“In these dark days ahead, The Greens will keep alive the light on the hill. It’s just that this time it will be solar powered,” he said in a rousing speech followed by a mighty roar from the crowd.
Bandt thanked unions including the National Tertiary Education Union, Electrical Trades Union and the United Firefighters Union Australia [Victoria Branch] for supporting the party “at great cost to themselves.”
He said their support showed that they wanted “people in Parliament who aren’t just going to say the right thing but will vote for it as well.”
He thanked his partner Claudia, his parents who had arrived from Perth a week earlier to join him on the campaign trail and the Greens party faithful for their support.
“You have just laid down the template for how the Greens will continue to grow in other seats around the country,” he said. “And you have just shown that the Greens will be this country’s next major political party.”
Down a bluestone laneway lined with bicycles stacked against a chicken wire fence, the Greens election party kicked up a gear.