Biographical entry: Brown, Robert James (1944 - )


27 December 1944
Oberon, New South Wales, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Brown, Bob


Bob Brown was an environmentist, politician, medical doctor, Senator for Tasmania representing the Greens (1996-2012). Between 2005 and 2012, he served as the first national leader of the Australian Greens; a position which he had held informally since his election to the Senate almost a decade earlier (for many years the Greens party resisted instituting a heirarchical leadership).


Bob Brown moved to Tasmania in 1972 and worked as a medical general practitioner in Launceston. He soon became involved in the state's political and environmental movement, joining the newly formed United Tasmania Group, Australia's first "green" party. In a newspaper interview in 1976, Brown announced that he had a gay partner in order to highlight discrimination and encourage law reform (homosexual activity was a crime in Tasmania at the time).

In 1978 Brown was appointed director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society. He was a leader in the campaign to prevent construction of the Franklin Dam, and 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.

During his term of office in the Tasmanian parliament, Brown introduced a wide range of private member's initiatives, which include freedom of information, death with dignity, lowering parliamentary salaries, gay law reform, banning the battery-hen industry and advocation for nuclear free Tasmania. 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, and was an outspoken voice in support of green and human rights issues, including international issues such as Tibet, East Timor and West Papua. He introduced bills for constitutional reform, forest protection, to block radioactive waste dumping, to ban mandatory sentencing of Aboriginal children, to prohibit the use of cluster munitions and for greenhouse abatement.

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