UPDATED: Tasmanian Senator Christine Milne has resigned as leader of The Greens triggering a leadership ballot that will be held at 11:30am today.
In posts to her Facebook page and Twitter Milne said she was resigning with “a mix of optimism, pride, excitement and sadness”.
Victorian Senator Richard Di Natale has put his name forward for this morning’s ballot while former Deputy leader Adam Bandt has declined to comment on whether he will do the same.
West Australian Senator and leadership favourite Scott Ludlam was unavailable for comment.
Both Ludlam and Bandt are reported to have put their names forward however neither has confirmed if this is the case.
The announcement has taken many in Canberra by surprise with Treasurer Joe Hockey saying he hoped Milne’s retirement was “for all the right reasons rather than anything else”.
The Prime Minister has taken the opportunity to respond during a press conference about a new 500 million dollar road project in W.A saying he has “respect” for Milne.
“It takes a great deal of commitment and patriotism to offer to serve in the parliament” he said “it is a testament to her commitment to Australia”.
Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten has also spoken out on Milne’s resignation saying he “would like to place on record that she has been a distinguished public advocate in public life for 25 years”.
“I can certainly respect the conviction and the passion with which she has advanced her issues” he said “I congratulate her on two and a half decades of distinguished public life”.
There has still been no official word on whether Adam Bandt or Scott Ludlam have put their names however there are unconfirmed reports that Milne had given Senator Ludlam advanced warning of her resignation.
Greens Senator Lee Rihannon has tweeted that she believes party members should have a say in who leads the Greens with Labor MP Terri Butler calling on the Greens to “have a rank and file vote like we do”.