Richard Luigi Di Natale (born 6 June 1970) is an Australian Senator and leader of the Australian Greens. Di Natale was elected to the Australian Senate in the 2010 federal election. A former general practitioner, he was the lead Greens Senate candidate in Victoria in the 2007 federal election but failed to win a seat. Di Natale became federal parliamentary leader of the Australian Greens on 6 May 2015 following the resignation of Christine Milne. Di Natale led the Greens at the 2 July 2016 federal election.
Early life, education and pre-parliamentary career
Di Natale was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to Catholic Italian immigrant parents and grew up in Melbourne. He attended Parade College, graduating in 1987, and Monash University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree in 1993. Di Natale later obtained Master of Public Health and Master of Health Science degrees from La Trobe University.
Prior to entering parliament, Di Natale was a general practitioner and public health specialist. Di Natale worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory, on HIV prevention in India and in the drug and alcohol sector.
In 2004, Di Natale was the Greens’ second Senate candidate, behind David Risstrom, who missed out on winning a Senate spot.
Di Natale also ran for the position of Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 2004, coming second to the elected John So.
In both 2002 and 2006, Di Natale was narrowly defeated in the seat of Melbourne in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, almost unseating ALP health minister Bronwyn Pike. Richard received 48% of the two-party preferred vote in both elections, missing out on a win. Di Natale has acted as health spokesperson for the Greens in Victoria and in 2002 spoke about the Greens’ support for harm reduction policies to manage illicit drug use.
In April 2007, Di Natale spoke out about the health implications of climate change, and later that year voiced concerns about terror laws in relation to the then suspect Dr. Mohamed Haneef.
Di Natale was nominated as the Australian Greens‘ lead Senate candidate for Victoria for the 2010 federal election. Greens leader Senator Bob Brown described Di Natale as the Greens’ “next strongest hope” at this election.
At the 2010 election, Di Natale won a Senate seat representing Victoria. His term began on 1 July 2011. Upon taking up his seat in the Senate, Di Natale became the Greens’ federal spokesperson for health. Di Natale’s other portfolios include sport, gambling, youth and multiculturalism.
Di Natale was elected unopposed as parliamentary leader of the Greens party room on 6 May 2015 following the resignation of Christine Milne from the position.
The Greens achieved mixed results at the 2016 Federal Election. The Party targeted several House of Representatives seats, but did not win any additional seats despite achieving large swings. The party also lost a senator. Di Natale argued that the Greens’ election strategy had been successful, with voters now seeing them as a major party.
In June 2017 Lee Rhiannon was suspended from the Federal Greens party room following an internal dispute over her opposition to the Federal Greens’ support for the Turnbull government education funding changes. The Greens New South Wales subsequently issued a statement reiterating its support for Senator Rhiannon and support for public education.
Di Natale, his wife and two young sons live on a working farm in the foothills of Victoria’s Otway Ranges.