The Australian Greens have taken a step towards professionalism with the appointment of a federal director – but since that sounds a bit hierarchical they’re calling him a “national officer.” Mark Jeanes, from Melbourne, takes up the position in Canberra in two weeks, just before the arrival of two new Greens senators on 1 July.

In his early 30s, Jeanes seems intelligent and personable and committed to the cause; he will need all those qualities, and more, to deal with his party’s byzantine internal politics. The Greens are a federation of state parties with different traditions and sometimes very different ways of doing things. As always with small parties (remember the Democrats?), there are not many spoils to go around, so the fight over them can be exceptionally bitter: Greens sources wonder whether Jeanes fully realises what he has let himself in for.

I stopped by for his farewell in a local pub on Monday night, and asked him how he felt about dealing with the factional and personality clashes that have been characteristic of the Greens. He told me that the party has been going through its adolescence and is now emerging into maturity, where, although such things will never disappear, he expects factional clashes to be handled more professionally.

Although party staff are not supposed to dictate policy, everyone knows that they have considerable influence in that direction, and the Greens are likely to be no exception. Jeanes comes to the job from, of all places, the National Australia Bank, so he actually understands something about economics and the world of business. Let’s hope that’s the expanded Greens caucus will be a more constructive place as a result.