Di Natale adds new tinge to Greens

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New Greens leader Richard Di Natale with his predecessor Christine Milne. Picture: AAP
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Our newest political leader is a beer-drinking, meat-eating, sports-loving bloke from a working-class migrant background.

He's a mad Richmond fan who played ruck-rover in the VFA for Coburg. And he is still very fit.

The 44-year-old took three wickets for 29 from seven overs against the Federal Press Gallery XI in March with his annoyingly accurate left arm in-swingers.

He's a GP with a naturally pleasant bedside manner and a politician who can get as fiery and combative as anybody in the game.

Oh, did I mention he's a Green?

Richard Di Natale is Project Mainstream for the third force in Australian politics.

And by the sounds of his first outing as leader, he wants to take the Greens from a party of protest to a party that seeks to further erode Labor from the Left.

This potentially puts Bill Shorten in the gun. Where Christine Milne seemed content to carve a 10 to 12 per cent niche in the market, Di Natale is pitching for 20 per cent. That's a bold aim, given the Greens made themselves a fixture in our political system through pursuit of ideological purity. Going mainstream has risks. Di Natale insisted yesterday he was no ideologue. Instead, he projected an image of a pragmatic doer who wanted things done.

But getting things done will mean compromise, compromise that might taint the ideological purity the Greens have too often worn like a comfortable cardigan.

Let it not be forgotten that Milne played a fair role in foisting on Australia a climate change policy that never had bipartisan support. It died as a result.

The times may suit Di Natale. Indeed, he might even find Prime Minister Tony Abbott takes the opportunity to reset his relationship with the Greens.

Abbott also wants things done.

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