CHRISTINE MILNE will use her first big speech as Greens leader to question Australia's faith in economic growth at any cost.
The senator concedes her stance will be seen as heresy by some, but she is going to say it anyway.
Senator Milne will tackle her critics head on, acknowledging the accusation regularly made against her party - ''that we are anti-growth and therefore want everyone to go back to living in caves, sipping nettle broth and whittling Huon pine condoms'' as a former Tasmanian premier once maintained.
She says the ''anti-growth'' tag is partly true - depending on what is supposed to be growing, and how it is measured.
Right now she says Australians' quality of life is stagnating, the environment is suffering and services are declining, despite Australia posting its 21st successive year of economic growth, as it is now defined.
Undeterred by the Greens' recent falls in opinion polls and poor results in NSW local elections, the Tasmanian senator who took over from the popular Bob Brown in March will say the economy is a tool which is not delivering Australians the life outcomes they desire.
She says the idea of ''decoupling'' economic growth from environmental harm is seen as ''heresy'' in Australia.
But she asserts that ''surely it is time that those who claim that economic growth derived from resource extraction and pollution is the only path be the ones labelled wacky, irresponsible, divorced from reality or connected to the CIA''.
''I am for growing natural, human, social, manufactured and financial capital and I am against growing global warming, species extinction, poverty, poor health, conflict and corruption,'' her prepared notes for the speech to the National Press Club say.
''If economic growth as it is currently measured isn't actually making us happier, healthier, cleverer or safer then it isn't real growth. If we are growing our economy in defiance of physical limits, that isn't real growth, it's a confidence trick.
''On the other hand, if people are getting happier and healthier, if we're protecting and restoring the environment … if our schools, universities and research institutions are thriving, if we're helping unemployed people find worthwhile jobs … surely this is real growth, regardless of what our GDP numbers show.''
When asked how her leadership would differ from that of Mr Brown, Senator Milne once said the ''Greens haven't been, I think, successful enough in selling our economic vision''.
Her speech makes that ''vision'' clear, arguing that gross domestic product is useful for measuring tax revenue, but not for measuring the real progress of a nation.
''GDP measures what we make and consume … it ignores work done in the home and volunteer work across society. It disregards the entrenched gap between rich and poor. It loves a catastrophe like a car accident or the Queensland floods because they generate economic activity, regardless of the human cost'', she says.
As Labor and the Coalition battle to find budget savings, Senator Milne proposes some new spending, including lifting unemployment benefits by $50 a week and a ''goal'' of increasing research and development funding from 2.2 per cent to 3 per cent of GDP.
And she insists that around the world her views are ''becoming mainstream'', citing the economists Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Amartya Sen, politicians including Robert Kennedy and even a report from the World Economic Forum, which this year debated the future of capitalism.
In March, the miner Clive Palmer claimed the Greens were part of a conspiracy with the CIA against Australian miners to benefit US mining interests, a claim he later retracted.