Greens Archive


Tale of three maps: Batman, Macquarie and Richmond

Macquarie2-GRNAs a further taste of the seat guides being posted now on the Tally Room (53 and counting), I thought I’d run through another three interesting seats. Today these three seats are all seats with above-average Greens votes, but also with a wide variation in the Greens vote across the seat.

These seats are: Batman in the inner north of Melbourne, Macquarie on the north-western fringe of Sydney, and Richmond in the north-eastern corner of New South Wales.

I’d like to remind readers that comments are open on all fifty-three seat guides posted so far – comments have been posted on every guide, with almost 800 comments posted so far this month. Please join in and let us know your thoughts about your local seat or another seat that you are familiar with.

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More psephojunk from the Australian

The entirely forgotten former Labor senator John Black has published a very strange and stupid piece of electoral analysis in yesterday’s Australian, basically arguing that Greens voters are richer than Liberals, therefore they won’t support the mining tax because it will hurt their share portfolios. This will apparently cost the ALP the election because every single new Greens voter came from the ALP, but they will be preferencing the Liberals en masse because of the ALP’s tax on mining.

It’s difficult to decide which part of Black’s stupidity is the worst. When you get past the snide insulting of Greens voters (I don’t know what evidence he has that Greens voters don’t study maths or economics – my experience certainly doesn’t indicate that).

Black seems to base his entire thesis on the idea that Greens voters are the wealthiest group of Australians. It’s true that the core Greens constituency consists of middle-class Australians who generally are doing relatively well, although it also includes plenty of young people and students who have low incomes.

Before trying to compare political parties, you have to recognise that major parties are made up of a number of constituencies each larger than the Greens. Labor voters include working class voters with lower educations and inner-city progressives with degrees (who are very similar demographically to a lot of Greens voters). The Coalition draws support from wealthy, highly-educated voters as well as working class voters in the fringes of the big cities and Nationals voters in rural areas without much of an education. If you average those out, the Greens may come out with the highest average (although I doubt it). It’s far too simple to say “rich people vote Green”, and is obviously absurd.

There is a variety of reasons why Greens voters are seen as relatively wealthy. Greens voters tend to be young, so they don’t tend to include as many retired voters with depressed incomes (in contrast to the Coalition). Female Greens voters would be much more likely to be employed, which also would increase incomes. Indeed, I have seen evidence that, amongst highly-educated people, Greens voters tend to be less wealthy. Greens voters are wealthier mainly because they have higher education levels.

Black argues that the Greens are serving in a similar role as the Democratic Labor Party played in the 1950s and 1960s, when it directed the preferences of Catholics away from Labor and to the Liberals. It’s a really strange comparison. First of all, the DLP actively worked to prevent the ALP from forming government, directing preferences to Liberal candidates and helping the Liberals stay in power continually for 23 years. In contrast, the Greens very rarely preference the Coalition and their preferences were central to the election of the Rudd government in 2007.

The political base of the two parties is also extremely different. The DLP’s positioning on the right wing of the ALP as opponents too communists and the ALP’s left meant that they sat in the centre of the political spectrum. The Greens instead sit to the left of the ALP. It seems very strange to think that the Greens could act as a bridge to ease the transition of voters from Labor to Liberal.

Black’s thesis appears to be based on the assumption that Greens voters are motivated by their self-interest, and they see the health of mining profits to be in their self-interest. This seems like a very courageous assumption. Greens voters are clearly strongly motivated by environmental issues and social justice. While Greens voters are usually middle-class, the party has built a base through campaigning for public health and education in preference to private alternatives and campaigning for strong action on climate change.

Indeed, the Greens have been fiercely critical of the mining industry and advocated for the gradual shutdown of the coal industry. Black figures that rich Greens voters are worried about their share portfolio and superannuation if the federal government imposes a tax on the mining industry, despite Greens voters strongly supporting action on climate change which would hit the resource extraction industry hardest.

There is no evidence at all that Greens voters oppose the RSPT. Bob Brown today has criticised the government’s policy for subsidising mining, and that position seems to be in line with where Greens voters would stand. So is there any evidence at all that Greens voters are being pushed away from preferencing Labor because of Rudd’s policies on mining taxes? I can’t find any. It is probably reasonable to assume that most new Greens voters are coming from the ALP, but it is also reasonable to assume that most of those voters will return to Labor in preferences, despite their gross disillusionment with the Rudd government.

If Labor is to lose power in 2010, it will be due to voters in the centre switching to the Liberals, it won’t be due to left-wing voters deciding to preference Tony Abbott because Kevin Rudd is too hard on the mining industry!

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Greens preselect in inner-Sydney seats

The Greens have now preselected candidates for the two seats in Sydney’s inner city where the party has performed most strongly in the past. These candidates join other prominent Greens inner-city candidates Adam Bandt, running in Melbourne, and former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, running in Brisbane.

Greens candidate for Sydney, Tony Hickey.

In Sydney, the Greens are running activist and teacher Tony Hickey. Hickey is the Greens NSW state secretary and has long been a party activist. He has started his campaign by calling on the ALP to change its position on same-sex marriage, a major issue in the Greens’ inner-city campaigns.

Greens candidate for Grayndler, Sam Byrne.

In Grayndler, the Greens have just preselected Sam Byrne, former Mayor of Marrickville. Byrne was a Greens councillor on Marrickville council from 1999 until 2008, and ran as the Greens candidate at the 2005 Marrickville by-election, where he polled almost 39%.

The Greens managed their best results in NSW in Sydney and Grayndler in 2007. They polled 20.7% in Sydney and 18.7% in Grayndler. While there were swings against the Greens in the House of Representatives, the Greens polled substantially higher in the Senate, polling over 24% in Sydney, reflecting a strategy of focusing attention on the Senate.

It is always difficult for the Greens to win lower house seats, and 2010 will be no exception, but after three years of the Rudd government governing from the centre, the Greens should perform strongly in left-wing inner city seats where the sitting MPs struggle to straddle the left-wing politics of their constituencies and the demands of ALP solidarity. Sitting ministers Anthony Albanese (Grayndler) and Tanya Plibersek (Sydney) have in the past worked to create an image of progressivism on issues like climate change and same-sex marriage while supporting contradictory Labor policies, and this will become harder as they sit in government.

Sydney and Grayndler also cover the key state electorates of Balmain and Marrickville, where the Greens will be seeking a breakthrough into the NSW Legislative Assembly in 2011. They also cover Leichhardt and Marrickville council areas, which both elected large numbers of Greens councillors at the 2008 council elections.

Read more in the Tally Room seat profiles for Sydney and Grayndler.


Tasmanian poll: Greens outpoll Labor

Another EMRS poll has been released over the weekend in Tasmania, which reinforces the trend seen in a February poll towards record levels of support for the Tasmanian Greens.

While it appears that the full breakdown of results has not been published online (only appearing in the Examiner), the topline figures are:

  • 29 – Liberal
  • 22 – Greens
  • 21 – Labor
  • 2 – Others
  • 26 – Undecided

All EMRS polls are published with high levels of undecided voters, meaning that these numbers would be much higher once those are taken into account, and undecided voters usually favour the major parties over the Greens, particularly that major party with the best shot of majority government, although on the current numbers that doesn’t seem likely at all.

The poll also broke down votes according to each electorate. Samples are usually too small to take them seriously, although much has been made of the Denison poll predicting that Scott Bacon, son of the former premier, would possibly take the only ALP seat, beating out Premier David Bartlett and ministers Lisa Singh and Graeme Sturges, showing the importance of name recognition in Tasmanian politics.

Since the last two polls were very similar, Tasmanian psephologist Kevin Bonham has combined the electorate breakdowns to produce a more solid sample. These figures suggest that the Greens are solidly on track to win 6 seats (one in every district and two in Denison) and even outpolling the ALP in Franklin, which could suggest Adam Burling would have an outside chance of winning a second Greens seat in Franklin, although he doesn’t have a high profile.

In other news, four former premiers (two Labor, two Liberal) have come out to warn Tasmanians against a minority government, although at this point it doesn’t seem clear how Tasmanians could vote to avoid a hung parliament. Peter Tucker has commented on this panic-stricken move at his Tasmanian Politics blog.

Update: William Bowe has managed to track down more information about this elusive poll over at Poll Bludger. After including “leaners” the figures come out as:

  • 30 – Liberal
  • 23 – Labor
  • 22 – Greens
  • “almost a quarter” undecided

Which he interprets as 39 Liberal, 30 Labor, 29 Greens. Compared to the February poll, this has the undecided vote up a large amount (from 13% to 23-4%), with Liberals down four, Labor down four, and the Greens down two.


Andrew Bartlett runs for Greens in Brisbane

The Greens have today announced that former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett will run for the party in the federal seat of Brisbane at the next election. Bartlett was a senator for Queensland from 1997 until his defeat in 2007 saw his term finish in 2008.

No doubt about it, Bartlett is a strong candidate for the Queensland Greens. His eleven years in the Senate give enormous credibility to his bid, and he has a strong record on various policy issues. Although he was previously a member of another party, his record suggests he fits in comfortably with Greens policy, something that cannot be said for some previous high-profile outside recruits. He has been strong on trademark Greens issues like refugees and environmental issues, while working in the difficult environment of the imploding Democrats following their support of the GST (which Bartlett opposed). On the other hand, it’s still to be seen how well he performs as a campaigner. His time as leader of the Democrats saw the party lose three of its seats and suffer a massive swing at the 2004 election.

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Greens preselection wrap

There a whole bunch of interesting preselections currently taking place or concluding in various Greens state parties. Unfortunately I know a lot more than I’m able to say here, but I’ll give you what I can. This list shows that the Greens are currently preselecting for potential new MPs in every state  except for Western Australia (where they’ve hit the ceiling for the near future).

It looks like Tammy Jennings is the clear frontrunner now to be the Greens’ lead MLC candidate in South Australia. I can’t say any more than that at this time.

Former president of Liberty Victoria and prominent barrister Brian Walters SC has been preselected as the Greens candidate for the state seat of Melbourne, defeating, amongst others, Moonee Valley councillor and President of the Victorian Local Government Association, Rose Iser.

The preselection to choose the Queensland Greens Senate candidate is currently underway, with the process wrapping up in early October. There may be other candidates, but there are at least four candidates, with Connors and Waters being the clear frontrunners:

  • Larissa Waters – 2007 Senate candidate and 2009 candidate for Mount Coot-tha
  • Libby Connors – Perennial candidate, most recently in Yeerongpilly at the 2009 state election.
  • Jenny Stirling – Perennial candidate in the Townsville area.

The Greens are also currently choosing their candidate for the ACT Senate race. While nominations are yet to close, it appears that previously reported rumours about potential candidates do not appear to be accurate. However, there is another figure from outside the party who appears to be the frontrunner, and hopefully I can report that at a later date.

Preselection for the Victorian Legislative Council’s Eastern Metropolitan region is also taking place at the moment. The race is the best chance for the Victorian Greens to elect another MLC from Melbourne. Amongst those standing are Emma Henley and Peter Campbell, who both have websites, although it appears Henley’s website is no longer accessible. Update: Stephen L reports in comments that Eastern Metro preselection was won by Damian Magner, 2006 candidate for Eltham. Marcus Ward has also been preselected to run again in Western Victoria.

The Tasmanian Greens have chosen their candidate for Braddon, the only electorate which does not have an incumbent Greens MHA. The candidate is Paul O’Halloran, who led the ticket at the 2006 election. I think it’s safe to assume that Nick McKim, Kim Booth, Tim Morris and Cassy O’Connor will be preselected again in their own seats.

The Greens are set to preselect a former politician with no previous links to the Greens to run in the federal seat of Brisbane, and I’m not talking about Ronan Lee.

The NSW Greens are about to kick off the preselection to choose our ticket for the Legislative Council for the 2011 state election and to choose a replacement for Lee Rhiannon when she resigns to run for the Senate. The preselection will take place mainly in October-November with the conclusion in early December. I’m actually the Returning Officer, so it will be inappropriate for me to provide any commentary, beyond possibly listing the candidates when nominations close. I’ve also decided that it would be too hard for me to separate my RO role from moderating comments on the topic, so any comments on the NSW Greens Legislative Council preselection will be deleted. Sorry, you’ll need to go somewhere else.

Update: I originally listed Matthew Ryan-Sykes as a Queensland Senate candidate, but apparently he is not standing. Sorry for my mistake.


SA Greens choosing their next state MP

The South Australian Greens are also in the middle of choosing their ticket for the Legislative Council for the March 2010 state election. The meet-the-candidates forums are currently taking place, and the ballot and endorsement of the ticket will take place in September.

The four candidates are:

  • Carol Vincent – Chief Executive of the SA Farmers’ Federation.
  • Tammy Jennings (nee Franks) – Convenor of the SA Greens, Jennings was on the Democrats Senate ticket at the 2004 election.
  • Paul Petit – Former Convenor of the Australian Greens, Greens SA lead Legislative Council candidate at the 1997 election.
  • Mark Andrew – I don’t really have any info at hand about him.

There are no incumbent MLCs up for election, as Mark Parnell’s term does not expire until 2014. The quota to win a seat is just over 8%, which they should get considering recent polling. Recent polling putting them on a vote of 11% suggests that, with strong preference flows, they could have a small chance of electing two new MLCs.


What colour are you?

Imre Saluzinsky, the Australian‘s NSW politics reporter, wrote in today’s Australian about the Mayor of Leichhardt, Jamie Parker, and his prospective candidacy for the state seat of Balmain for the Greens. Most of the article is fairly reasonable analysis of the Balmain race and the Greens’ chance, although he mostly ignores the fact that Parker does not seem to have yet been preselected for the race:

And according to most observers and polls, he’ll win, creating history twice, by becoming the first Greens MP to crack the NSW lower house and by slaying Labor at its birthplace (the ALP was formed at Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel, in 1891).

“We’re definitely within striking range,” is Mr Parker’s assessment.

In fact, Labor held on against the Greens in 2007 by a margin of just 3.75 per cent, and since then Ms Firth has copped plenty of political pain over Labor decisions to widen the Iron Cove Bridge and build a metro from the CBD to Rozelle.

Saluzinsky, however, veers off the rails in the last paragraph, again pushing his bizarre analysis of internal Greens politics:

According to the loose factionalism of his party, Mr Parker is a “blue Green” rather than a “red Green”. With a background in marketing rather than Stalinism, he carries none of the far-Left baggage of many senior NSW Greens.

It’s not the first time the old media has pushed a line about ideological divisions within the Greens. Indeed Saluzinsky pushed a similar line in an article about NSW Greens Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon three weeks ago:

“People constantly say that about us,” she tells Inquirer. “But I can show you the first document produced by the NSW Greens, in 1984, in which the environment is one of many issues. The Greens are an organisation where you’re looking at everything and the interactions of everything.”

Maybe, but the NSW Greens are frequently described as an uneasy alliance of urban guerillas and tree-huggers, with Rhiannon representing the former and her upper house colleague Ian Cohen representing the latter strain. This will make for some interesting dynamics if Rhiannon makes it into the senate. Federal Greens leader Bob Brown, who came to politics from the campaign to save Tasmania’s Franklin River in the early 80s, is closer to Cohen than he is to Rhiannon and is one of those Greens whose top priority is saving the planet. The destruction of Western capitalism lies further down the list.

I wonder whether political journalists ever actually speak to anyone in the Greens, or simply make their prognostications without any research. Because anyone who is actually involved in the Greens can tell you that it is complete crap. Lee was involved in environmental activism long before she was an MP, and Cohen first gained his activist cred in the 1980s as a peace activist in inner-city Sydney. And what the hell is a ‘blue Green’? Is Saluzinsky suggesting that Parker is somehow a more conservative Greens politician? Considering his origins in the student left, it seems slightly bizarre to extrapolate an ideology from his choice of a degree in marketing.

So if a marketing degree makes Parker a ‘blue Green’, and those of us who have backgrounds in Stalinism (?!) are ‘red Greens’, what colour are you, my fellow Stalinists?

I personally think I might by cyan.


Greens pick Adam Bandt for Melbourne

In an unsurprising move, the Greens have chosen Adam Bandt as the candidate for the federal seat of Melbourne. Bandt is the Convenor of the Australian Greens, and was  candidate for Melbourne in 2007 and Lord Mayoral candidate in 2008. Bandt is a former partner at Slater and Gordon and specialist in industrial law, representing unions and workers in various cases.

Melbourne is the only Greens seat where the Greens came  second at the 2007 election, and it is held by Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner by 4.71%. It will be difficult for the Greens to win in 2010, but it is definitely possible and probably the Greens’ best prospect.


Victorian Greens choose candidate in Richmond

The Victorian Greens on Friday announced their first candidate for a winnable seat for the November 2010 state election. The Greens will be running Kathleen Maltzahn for the inner Melbourne seat of Richmond at the state election.

Maltzahn is a former City of Yarra councillor from 2004 to 2008 and is currently the Executive Director of a local women’s health service.

In regards to the preselection, Maltzahn said that “people get climate change. They want the government to make real change. I’m running to help make that happen. We’re also seeing more and more Greens elected, including, with Adele Carle’s win in Fremantle, in lower house seats. Winning Richmond is a real possibility.”

Richmond is the second most marginal Labor/Greens seat in Victoria, behind the state seat of Melbourne. The seat mostly covers Maltzahn’s City of Yarra, with the exception of small parts at the northern end of Yarra LGA.

Richmond is held by ALP Minister for Housing, Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs Richard Wynne, who has held the seat since 1999. Richmond has been a safe Labor seat since 1908, with the exception of the 1955 election when the sitting Labor MP was re-elected for the DLP for one term.

The Greens first came close to winning in Richmond in 2002, when Gemma Pinnell polled 28.6% of the primary vote and produced a two-candidate-preferred result of 53.1% for the ALP over the Greens. In 2006, the Greens went backwards slightly on the two-candidate-preferred vote, with the ALP winning 53.6%. There were swings against both Greens and Labor on primary votes towards smaller parties, in particular local Socialist councillor Stephen Jolly, who polled 5.6%, which largely contributed to a 3.9% swing against the Greens, who ran then-Yarra councillor Gurm Sekhon, and 1.1% against Wynne.

Maltzahn’s preselection is another in the long line of preselections for potentially winnable seats that the Greens will be conducting over the next few months. Lee Rhiannon and Richard di Natale have already been preselected for the Senate next year, with similar preselections in Queensland, South Australia and the ACT expected soon. In addition, there will be preselections for one winnable seat in the South Australian Legislative Council and four winnable seats in the NSW Legislative Council. The Victorian Greens are currently preselecting lead candidates for all eight Legislative Council regions, all of which are winnable. And, of course, we’re still waiting on preselections for the state seats of Balmain, Marrickville, Melbourne, Brunswick and Northcote.

Update: Greg Barber and Colleen Hartland have both been preselected to run for second terms in North Metro and Western Metro respectively. Yarra Ranges Councillor Samantha Dunn is running for Eastern Victoria region. The other five regions are yet to be concluded.

Update 2: Colleen Hartland hasn’t actually been preselected yet, but she is the only candidate in Western Metro.