NSW 2019 – rising minor parties of the left


When I was analysing the list of candidates running in the state election yesterday, I was a bit surprised by which minor parties were running the largest number of Legislative Assembly candidates.

Three parties outside of Labor, Greens and the Coalition ran over 40 candidates: Sustainable Australia are running 55, Animal Justice (AJP) are running 48, and Keep Sydney Open (KSO) are running 42. Quite a lot of these candidates came out of the blue – I didn’t have a single KSO candidate on my list before nominations were declared, and it’s practically impossible to find out information about most of them.

All three of these parties could be broadly described as “on the left”. Some lefties would object to that classification of Sustainable Australia because of their approach to immigration, but all three parties clearly are competing for political space with the Greens.

The right-wing minor parties have nominated a lot less candidates: the Shooters are in 25 seats, the Australian Conservatives in 19, Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats are in 18, and One Nation are only in twelve.

In one sense the number of candidates running doesn’t really matter – very few of these people have a chance of getting elected, and preferential voting minimises the spoiler effect. But it is a test of organisational capacity – it takes time and effort to find people willing to put up their hand, and it costs money just to get on the ballot. As a contrast, I haven’t identified a single independent running in alliance with Jeremy Buckingham’s upper house ticket (although it is possible some have slipped under the radar), suggesting difficulty finding people and money to run lower house support candidates.

The growing presence of left-wing parties challenging the Greens is partly a story about the recent divisions in the Greens NSW (I’ve noticed more than one Sustainable Australia candidate who has previously run for the Greens), but it’s also a broader story. The Animal Justice Party already hold a seat in the upper house, and both Sustainable Australia and Animal Justice won seats in the Victorian upper house last November.

There are a few interesting patterns in terms of where parties are running. I have put together the following map which can be toggled to show three different layers.

Most interesting is where the three left-wing insurgent parties are running.

Keep Sydney Open is, unsurprisingly, mostly running candidates in the eastern half of Sydney. They are running in every seat on the north shore, as well as almost every seat in the inner west and eastern suburbs.

Keep Sydney Open candidates in seats in green.

The only exceptions are Canterbury and Sydney, and the seat of Sydney particular stands out. This electorate covers the area most directly affected by the lockout laws which triggered the creation of KSO. It is also the seat held by independent MP Alex Greenwich. Greenwich is part of Clover Moore’s independent alliance, and one of Clover’s councillors is running as a candidate for Keep Sydney Open in the Legislative Council. It seems reasonably obvious that this is a deliberate decision to not challenge Greenwich.

KSO is also running in a number of rural seats, including Albury, Bathurst, Murray and Orange. Interestingly they are also running in the Greens seat of Ballina.

The first map in this post shows how many candidates are running in each seat from Sustainable Australia, Animal Justice and Keep Sydney Open.

It’s probably not surprising that these parties are most likely to be running in seats which are strong for the Greens, particularly on the north shore of Sydney and in the eastern suburbs and inner west. I do think it’s interesting that all three parties managed to run in all three Greens seats (Balmain, Newtown and Ballina).

For the first time in 2019, registered election-day material (mostly how-to-vote cards) will be published online on the Monday before election day. It will be interesting to see how these preferences flow, and whether there is some kind of preference arrangement either in support of, or in opposition to, the Greens.

There is a general trend of less minor parties running in Labor seats. If you exclude the three Labor, Greens and Coalition candidates in each seat, there are 2.6 other candidates standing in the average Labor seat, compared to 3.4 other candidates in the average Liberal seat. Whether this is a coincidence or a deliberate preference strategy, time will tell.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are probably the most interesting right-wing minor party. They had almost no experience of running lower house candidates up to and including the last election, but since their win in the 2016 Orange by-election they’ve become a major factor in regional NSW politics.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers in seats in red. No candidate in seats in blue.

They are mostly standing in the places you’d expect, including 10 seats in inland NSW (including Upper Hunter) and 3 seats in the south-east, including Goulburn. They are also running in four mid-north coast seats. Most of their candidates are running in Coalition seats, which is likely just a reflection of their stronger areas.

Their presence in Sydney is mostly limited to the outer fringe, running in four seats on the edge of Sydney. But they are also running in Coogee which seems like a strange choice.

One Nation has mostly avoided running against the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, with most of their seats in mid and outer suburban Sydney, but they are still both contesting five seats.

Pre-poll voting opens on Monday, so this should give us the first hint of how these parties will be directing their preferences, and how this could effect this election.

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  1. KSO a left-wing party Ben? They’re fighting for the right of young people to party and listen to music all night, and for the right of club and pub owners to sell them booze. More like the cadet branch of the Liberal Democrats than any sort of relation of the Greens.

  2. KSO not running in Sydney seems a mistake to me.

    1. Their negative impact would likely be minimal thanks to (optional) preferential voting. No worse than The Greens.

    2. There is utility in having a lower house candidate to drive the upper house vote.

    3. Election funding based on votes.

    4. Next election. There is no guarantee who will be the candidates next election or what will be their position. This election is practice for the next when KSO May need to run in the seat.

    5. It’s the actual seat that the lock outs are in, and a resident can’t vote for them (in the lower house).

  3. Jack, KSO certainly has a libertarian streak in that it is a reaction to “nanny state” policies around licensing and music festivals. But you cannot argue they aren’t left leaning. Among all the core areas of lock-outs and live music, they also throw in the anti-Westconnex, pro social housing etc etc. I don’t think your argument holds water.

    KSO’s relation to the Greens is that it will be plundering the Greens’ youth vote in areas where Green (and progressive Labor & Liberal) MPs and Councillors have talked a big game on night life and live music, but simultaneously pander to older wealthy NIMBY interests.

  4. I assume the SFF candidate in Coogee might have something to do with the campaign against the marine park, and some of those other SFF candidates around Sydney probably represent the ‘Fishers’ wing of the party.

    There are still more minor right parties actually in contention for upper house seats, but it’s interesting that parties like the CDP who have traditionally run a lot of lower house candidates have so few this time.

    It’s quite likely there are some ‘deals’ going on, but to be fair these parties could’ve been doing this anyway. KSO is the interesting one because they’ve chosen a name and framed their platform in a way that is intentionally Sydney-centred which makes running outside Sydney seemingly pointless. Their platform would nonetheless, despite their branding, still have some relevance in a seat like Ballina, where lockouts have been an issue and the festivals and live entertainment industry is significant, not to mention the area being a hotbed of diverse political activity. They aren’t running in the Greens key target seat of Lismore. I also think from the perspective of a party like KSO, it does make sense to not run against an independent MP who is ‘on side’ but to run against Greens MPs since you wouldn’t exist as a party if people thought the Greens were doing an adequate job of representing them. Political inexperience could also be at play in how they have managed candidates – there are certainly elements of their platform that show political inexperience. We’ll have to see what they do regarding preferences, but I notice they have just said on Twitter that they are preferencing the Greens.

  5. I would hesitate to call the Animal Justice Party a party of the Left. Their attitude towards feral animal management flies in the face of ecologically sustainability and many of the ‘brumby advocates’ are overtly right wing.

  6. Single issue parties are neither left wing or right wing and most are inedible scrawny old hens rejected by the fox.

  7. Lots of confusion here about what constitutes “left wing”, and that’s telling… The Sustainable Australia lot are anti-immigration, as Ben notes, and likely to attract grumpy old white men like Dick Smith unhappy they haven’t got enough space to park their private helicopters; KSO a ginger group for the massive alcohol industry as someone else notes; and even AJP is suss too on culling, sections of it “overtly right wing” according to someone else…

    So let’s throw the cat in with the pigeons and say, “Some lefties would object…” (sorry Ben) to the Greens being called left wing too. How can a party that only has seats in the State’s richest areas be “left”? The seat of Ballina includes Byron Bay, alternatively known as “the billionaire’s playground”, Newtown and Balmain have median household incomes nearly double the NSW State average, and (thanks Ben) I see that the Greens highest voting booth in Balmain (62% of the primary) is right on the peninsula’s eastern tip – the bit with the $5m dollar views of Sydney Harbour. It’s home to stockbrokers, barristers and merchant bankers.

    Whatever these people are voting for, it isn’t socialism.

  8. A lot of it comes down to the Greens’ drug policies and them not understanding that a good chunk of their supporter base don’t agree with them on that issue. I’ve spent the last few elections looking around for who else I can vote for to push the Greens further down ballot, despite agreeing with them on nearly every other issue.

    To use drugs is to consent to becoming a rapist, a murderer, an abuser. That might not happen, but you’re consenting to it the first time you use. It’s an extremely low act which deserves to be punished. It’s also what’s behind much of the racism, misogyny and right-wing populism that has risen in the last few years, and which saw Trump and Hanson elected – their supporters are mostly drug-addled morons, the younger ones at least. There’s nothing left-wing about defending drugs when it leads to that.

  9. Sustainable Australia are a bunch of racists who are using the environment as a thinly veiled cover for their agenda. They aren’t progressives or libertarians like the Greens are. Economically speaking, they may be of the left, but they certainly aren’t when it comes to social policy. They remind me of the so called “moderate” faction of the Liberals and many of the independent liberals that are running lately. They claim to accept the science of man-made climate change and make noises about taking weak action on it. Meanwhile, they’re quite happy to continue physically and mentally torturing innocent asylum seekers in concentration camps on remote islands. They claim that they are opposed to a “big Australia” due to concerns about the environment but this fails to acknowledge the reality that a human will continue to contribute to emissions no matter where in the world they are. The environment and the damage we’re doing to it doesn’t end at the Australian coastline. Indeed, with the right government policies in place (which is currently definitely not the case), a human may very well have less of an impact on the environment by living in Australia than they would if they remained wherever they are.

    The Greens have been at the forefront of the campaign against Sydney’s lockout laws for years, so I don’t think there’s any difference between them and KSO when it comes to that. The question is what are KSO’s other policies, if any, and how will they vote on issues other than the lockout laws. Like them or not, you know who and what you’re voting for when you vote for the Greens. I also think it’s a bit amusing that KSO is running in electorates that are far closer to Brisbane than they are to Sydney. Frankly, people in northern NSW couldn’t give a rats whether Sydney is open or not. In fact, I’d say none of the millions of New South Welshman who live outside Sydney care enough about their lockout laws to waste their vote on a single issue party.

  10. Geez, I knew the leftist propaganda would come to the surface eventually.
    Thanks for reminding us firefox that the Greens haven’t learnt any lessons over the past year.

  11. Please go and educate yourself on the massive differences between communists and progressive libertarians before you come to a serious psephology website like this and make a fool of yourself.

  12. People can quibble about the progressive credentials of KSO, SusA or AJP, like they do about the Greens, but these parties are clearly competing over the same space. SusA is appealing to a bunch of people in the Greens base (indeed some of their candidates are ex-Greens). KSO is competing for the inner-city progressive libertarianism which is a key part of the Greens brand. All these parties stand apart from the right-wing minors like ON, CDP, SFF, LDP and you can see it in their preferencing decisions.

  13. Oh, have they announced their preference recommendations? Do tell. But it’ll be interesting to see how strongly those who vote for those parties follow the parties’ tickets. Betcha there’ll be at least a few 1 KSO 2 Lib Dems and some 1 SusA 2 SFF – voters for the maverick parties tend to be mavericks themselves.

  14. Re: Firefox

    Whilst there are, of course, people out there who support lowering immigration because they are racists, I can assure you that there are people out there who support lowering immigration for other reasons. Thus, I must ask that you please do not generalise about Sustainable Australia, or in general, really. I personally support Sustainable Australia and I can assure you that I’m not racist and that I have a great deal of concern for the welfare of those people seeking asylum in our country. I am personally horrified by the current treatment of refugees and would much rather we had onshore detention so that the Australian public had better oversight of their treatment. Moreover Sustainable Australia’s policy itself doesn’t mention lowering refugee intake, just the intake of economic migrants.

    My desire to lower immigration intake is in no way related to race, but rather because continuous population growth will result in more and more of our beautiful country being destroyed to make way for endless bloody suburbs that the government hangs out to dry with regards to public transport, resulting in not just destroyed habitats for our wildlife, but also an increase in emissions. To that end, I also support the AJP’s stance on keeping the birth rate at or below replacement.

  15. Whether all of their policies can be classified as left-wing or not, and whether they also attract voters who might be better described as right-wing or not, SusA, AJP and KSO clearly attract progressive voters and certainly in terms of the Greens base they do reflect and draw on parts of it. SusA were overlooked as micro party most people have never heard of, but now they have won a seat in Victoria and the Greens are splintering they are well-placed to attract a part of the Greens ecological base who are concerned about population. Those people are only a small part of the Greens base but they definitely exist and I’m surprised they haven’t picked up more ex-Greens already. The people behind SusA I believe were the same people behind the Save Our Suburbs party which contested a few state elections in the 2000s.

    Some of the AJP people I know I would describe as more left-wing than the Greens, at least in their local area, which in some ways might suggest that AJP and these other parties at the grassroots level may attract people who are unhappy with or unattracted to the local Greens group in their area.

    KSO appears to be an electoral coalition of sorts, that perhaps is only seen as a vehicle for this election by many of its participants. I understand some of their lower house candidates are members of other federally registered parties which I don’t believe are organisationally related to KSO.

    The Greens boomer-heavy membership is almost certainly majority pro-lockouts, and at least one of their current MLCs has publicly supported lockouts and criticised the Greens position during a previous preselection campaign. The Greens in NSW as a party aren’t really progressive libertarians per se.

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