SA Greens choosing their next state MP

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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.

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51 COMMENTS

  1. Farmers Fed? That’s a new one. That article pretty well insults people from Adelaide, she probably should stop doing that.

  2. Tammy Jennings was a student pollie many years ago from memory, and then worked for Natasha Stott-Despoja before joining the Greens after the Dems internal brawls. She is quite progressive.

    Paul Petit has considerable baggage from his time in the SA party (especially an internal dispute with Kris Hanna during his rather turbulent time in the SA party), but was there when it was being re-built. I say re-built because there were two SA Greens parties, the “SA Greens” & the Bob Lamb controlled “Green Party of SA”. The Bob Lamb version had held the registration when the Greens were just a network in the 80’s, and didn’t want to join the Australian Greens when they formed. I think this was largely resolved by the 1996 election – Paul Petit also ran for Wakefield in that election.

    Re: Carol Vincent, well Rick Farley stood for the Democrats in 1998 in the ACT, and he was the former Exec Director of the National Farmers Federation. Her standing as a Green shouldn’t be so surprising if you consider the problems of agricultural producers are facing with reduced rainfall and (more often) urban resumption of prime farming land such as across the Cumberland Plain or Hunter Valley (for coal mining) in NSW.

  3. Because on the east coast we’re used to rural politics being dominated by conservatives it’s easy to forget that there are many farmers who are far more progressive. It may seem unusual, but as Stewart points out, we shouldn’t be too surprised.

    Ben, you should be flattered that you apparently have such influence over the votes of preselectors that something as innocent as the order in which you list candidates is seen as so critical, or do you really wield that much power?

  4. Ben’s being sneakier than anyone here realises. This way, when Carol and Tammy win he can say “That was all down to me”.

  5. Should be a very interesting member vote. I was surprised that there were so few nominations for the first 2 positions on the Upper House Ticket. The SA Greens have surged in the polls due to having a very hardworking Member of Parliament, Mark Parnell, who has been very well received around the State and by the media as well. Secondly, the South Australian Labor Government is SO CONSERVATIVE, especially the Attorney-General, with all of his endless legislation removing another human right of some sort or banning whatever! A rightwing Anglican busybody if ever there was one! Rann is gruesome and every appearance on the media brings a few more votes into the Green fold from those who remember a DIFFERENT Labor Party. The biggest joke is that the Premier thinks he is a recreation of Don Dunstan! I have news for him!
    IT will be useful to get rid of the last Democrat up for relection and I can only dream of Family First not getting their sitting Member re-elected. However, dont worry all the ‘fundies’ will be out there en masse on election day and the Liberals always preference FF!

  6. Hi Ben, I don’t know if you know, or whether your such a psephoholic that you’d be interested, but before the German Federal elections on September 27th there are 2 German states going to the polls on the 30th August, namely Thüringia and Saxony.

    I can’t comment much about the state of Saxony, but livingin Thüringia I’ve tried to garner a much information as I can concerning the up-coming poll. The CDU are the incombents in Thuringia with 45 seats in an 88 seat parliament. The newly named “Die Linke”, ie The Left which I’m told are the leftover of the Communist party here in East Germany currently have 28 seats, and the SPD have 15 seats. Politicians are elected by a complex amalgamation of 1st past-the-post and proportional representation (I’m told), whereby if a party gets 5% of the vote they automatically are entitled to at least 6 seats.

    The current mister-president is CDU man Dieter Althaus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieter_Althaus). He came under some criticism recently when skiing in Autria where he was responsible for the death of a woman, I think becasue he was travelling cross-piste. As he was badly injued himself in the accident, and proclaims to have no memory of it, he refused to apologise, which the opposition here were very critical of.

    Of greater interest to you all though is the local Green party. At the last election they fell just short of getting enough votes for representation at 4.5%, but have improved somewhat now with polls consistently giving them 6% or more. Their webpage is:

    http://www.sommergruen.de/

    What’s also interesting is that in polls the CDU have fallen to 43%, which would mean they will no longer be able to govern Thüringia in their own right. The next biggest party are Die Linke, who until a couple of days ago, the SPD swore they would never form government with. Then I heard (and all this is second hand because my Deutsch is crap) that the SPD are willing to go into coalition with Die Linke, but only if the minister-president position goes to an SPD person – to which Die Linke have said ok!

    Info on German elections can be seen in English here:

    http://www.bundeswahlleiter.de/en/index.html

    For Thüringia results should appear here:

    http://www.wahlen.thueringen.de/wahlseite.asp

    the Thuringian site also has a very good breakdown of voting in the area for the recent European election.

    Only for the real psephoholics though…

  7. Thanks for that info Charles. There is also a Land election in Saarland on the 30th so thats 3 states…

    For a more general breakdown, and for German opinion polls I go to: http://www.election.de/cgi-bin/news1.pl – you can see on the “Umfragen” page the polls for each of the states (which generally show an improvement for the Greens over their last results).

    You’ll notice as well that there’s also the Brandenburg and Schleswig-Holstein Land elections on the 27th of Sept, so a veritable feast of German elections.

    Hey Ben, you doing any commentary on them?

  8. I didn’t realise there was an election in Saarland too Stewart – my informant here clearly can’t be trusted. Although to be fair to her, she is East German, and so her focus is mainly local.

  9. Ben, would you consider writing a post about the history of Greens-Labor in Tas and why both parties down there are saying they won’t share government with the Greens? There was an article about this in last wknds Australian, but I felt like there might be more to the story…

  10. Meg, I’m not sure what I’d say about it. Generally it comes down to the issue of forests, that really divides the state much more viciously between the Greens and the majors than the traditional left-right divide on the mainland.

    Also, the Labor Party in Tasmania is particularly right-wing, and the two parties had a really acrimonious period of partnership 1989-92 when the Greens supported Labor in Government under the Accord.

  11. Meg, the ALP-Greens Accord process really soured the ALP towards the Greens, because when it went south it took the ALP Govt with it. The Greens did tolerate the Libs in minority Govt, and either party may yet try this again if the stake is Govt or not Govt. There’s a bit been written about the Accord over the years (Bob Brown does discuss it in his books, as does Lance Armstrong), some being from academics. But as Ben says the key issue has been the very right-wing nature of the ALP in Tas, which has placed them close to the Libs on many issues (not just forests).

  12. Thanks, yeah I have actually read Bob Brown’s book on the Greens where he discusses the partnership, I think, back in my first year at Uni. I didn’t realise how much it had soured the relationship though. When you say “tolerate” Stewart, were they actually supporting the Libs over Labor?

  13. The Liberals were a minority government from 1996 to 1998 with the Greens in the balance of power. I think the situation was that, after the 1996 election, Labor refused to consider the option of working with the Greens. Therefore the choice was between supporting the Liberals or going straight back to another election. The Greens suppported the Liberals in exchange for some concessions, but remained outside the government, so they were free to oppose the government on most policy issues outside of confidence and supply.

    The ACT Greens also supported Kate Carnell’s government in 1995. The election saw the first Greens elected and a big gain for the Liberals. It would’ve been quite difficult to form a stable Labor government. Even still, the Greens suffered quite badly from their time supporting the Liberals, one of our two seats was lost in 1998 and we didn’t recover it until 2008 and we lost a large part of our membership.

  14. Never get into bed with the Conservatives! Which these days means both the Liberal and Labor Parties! Can someone please explain what the difference between the two of them is?

  15. I think you over play the role of the support for Carnell’s Govt. Providing supply & confidence motions to one of the major parties does not mean getting into bed with them (especially when the ALP feels that it should govern with a minority of MPs but offer nothing in return. Supporting the Libs in Tas (as a minority Govt) arguably brought stable Govt but also a considerable amount of leverage on bills. It also forced the ALP to be explicit about its position on many policies – support the Greens amendments to Lib bills or support the Libs directly, which was really their prefered course. The end of result of that was the change to the Tas Electoral ACt, as an act of bastardary by the two major parties.

    I have heard many conflicting stories about the support for Carnell, and the internal dynamics of the ACT Greens were as much to blame for their poor situation as anything else. Perhaps its best not to place too much emphasis on one reason for a party’s poor showing. Given the electoral system used in Tas & ACT (Hare Clark, Rbson rotation & bans on canvassing for votes around polling places)its quite possible to win or lose seats you might otherwise of gained (or kept) if HTV’s or voting tickets were used. Remember, Shane Rattenbury lost by less than 50 votes when Lucy Hrodny retired (at the 1998 election). The ACT Greens did not suffer a vote loss between 1995 & 1998, but the Democrat vote went up for around 3-4% to 7% in the electorates they ran in (Brindibella & Ginninderra) undercutting any extra support the Greens might have garnered. The 2001 election is where they lost ground to the Democrats (again in Brindibella & Ginninderra).

  16. Stewart or Ben, one of you might know more on this, but I seem to recall that the Democrats in the ACT were in a rather poor state in the early 90s (even by Dem standards), which may account for why votes they would subsequently attract later, particularly in 2001, might’ve gone to the Greens in 1995.

    Just looking at those figures, and yes, there was no vote loss for the Greens between 95 and 98, though in 98 you ran more candidates (4, 4 & 7 as opposed to 3 in each electorate in 95), and that may not have helped.

  17. Small correction – it was in 2001 that Shane lost by less than 50 votes. He lost in 98 as well, but by more. The problem in 98 was mostly that our vote stayed the same, but became more concentrated, getting Kerrie Tucker elected easily, but not giving us a chance elsewhere.

    I have a slightly different take on the reason the Green-Labor accord soured things. The fact that forests are so divisive there is only part of the issue I think. A bigger problem was that the Labor MPs felt humiliated by the Greens. If you look at the Green MPs at the time you have Bob – who was already a figure of international significance (awarded Australian of the year by The Australian of all places, winner of the Goldman Prize), Christine Milne who is clearly one of the most formidable politicians of recent years, Gerry Bates who literally wrote the book on environmental law and Di Holister, who had an astonishing ability to draw votes otherwise hostile to her party.

    The Labor MPs of the time, other than Keith Wreidt who I think retired part way through the term, were not exactly heavy hitters. I don’t think any of them had any major achievements outside politics, and most of them weren’t really big wheels in politics either. The Tasmanian ALP talent pool isn’t huge, and the best people had either become senators or had been driven out of the party for equivocating over the Franklin Dam.

    Put them in a room together and the Labor people felt shamed by this bunch of hippies. They couldn’t beat them at intellectual debate and became increasingly bitter about the whole process. This was transmitted to their staff and those close to them, with the message “never deal with these people”. The fact that the while thing fell apart in the depths of the recession at the time, resulting in an inevitable backlash in the polls, created the myth that the accord was electoral poison. This was convenient for those who already hated the experience, but the real agenda was damaged egos.

  18. Ah Stephen – so perhaps you can also tell-all on who is the Vic Greens candidate in Melbourne? And yes, you are right about Shane (I went and looked it up – 48 votes in 2001, about 1480 in 1998). The Dems vote was also up considerably in 2001 (by 2.5% to 9.7% in Ginninderra). One thing about 1998 – when Shane was exclused his votes elected future ACT ALP Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, although over 50% exhausted.

    And while I agree ALP egos have something to do with their ongoing distaste for the Tas Greens I think there is more at work there (and yes, forests are only part of the issue). If you are an ALP Govt used to being in power on your own (as all ALP Govts at what ever level are) then dealing with another party, especially one that appears to have stolen part of your vote, is not something to be done lightly. Your own description of the Tas Greens MPs as a bunch of hippies belies the ALPs shock at having to share power with anyone. The myth of electoral poison now has more to do with the idea of ‘stable government’, and needing an Assembly majority – thus the endless threats of sending the electorate back to the polls until they ‘get it right’. Thats where egos really come into play.

    Oh, and you forgot Lance Armstrong in Bass.

  19. Is it not also the case with the ACT that since the primary vote was so far short of a quota in Ginninderra both in 95 and 98 that winning or losing had much more to do with the vagaries of preference distribution and the primary vote totals other parties received than with the Greens themselves, just as which Senate seats you win or lose on the mainland has depended on preferences and the major parties’ votes rather than factors directly within the Greens’ control. Just from reading the comments here it sounds to me like the extent of the effect of the Greens’ support for the Lib govt on your electoral fortunes might have become something of a myth, no doubt encouraged by the ALP. Also remember that it’s easy to forget that the way party insiders and committed activists view something is often different to how regular voters do, so the reaction internally may have been bad, but the electorate didn’t necessarily feel the same way (or, as was the case with the Democrats after the GST vote and going into 2001, one cohort of voters may have been lost, but replaced by another one?).

    Walters is certainly a high-profile candidate. Hope he does well.

  20. And word has it that Tammy Jennings, nee Franks, will be the #1, with Paul Petit as #2. So who will be running for the Senate? There appear to be no front runners, unless its Vincent deciding that there’d be a better shot at the Senate? Otherwise the cupboard is apparently a little bare.

  21. #6 Oz, I thought you might’ve been on to something there, but it sounds like you were wrong. Ben’s obviously not all that clever after all…

  22. Just to bring you all up to date. Tammy Jennings has been endorsed as the Number 1 candidate but Paul Petit was not endorsed as the Number 2 candidate. He was rejected by the SA Greens State Council as an unsuitable candidate but any suggestions that this was/is linked to Carol Vincent withdrawing are incorrect. Mark Andrews under normal circumstances would have been promoted to the Number 2 position but this did not occur as it was claimed by some that the No Candidate option received more votes even though a recount of the ballot to confirm this was not carried out. A second ballot was undertaken for the Number 2 position only with Simon Jones winning it.

  23. Cheers Bob53 – any reasons given as to why Petit didn’t get the nod as #2? I would have thought it relatively unlikely he would be elected. I did hear (rumours, rumours!) that it had more to do with past indiscretions, and the decision surely is bit of a precedent given that it was a SA party wide ballot. Of course, I don’t know the numbers in the ballot, so it might have been small numbers voting, but it still seems odd given Paul’s past candidacy for the party. And not elevating the #3 as “No Candidate” got more – again, an odd use of the No Candidate option given you might have expected this to really mean that the members didn’t weren’t prepared to give any of the other candidates (ie; Andrews) their support.

    I rather suspect that the Australian Greens needs to spend a bit of time sorting out through the various states rules on ballots (as they each seem to be quite different) if only to provide a set of preferred guidelines. I know the arguments regarding states rights etc, but it seems problematic to argue the party is democratic when this may not be the perception (and I’m definitely not saying that the Greens in SA or any other state are not democratic, just that this may be the impression that punters are left with).

    Either way, tell us more about Simon Jones!

  24. The State council was peeved off with Paul Petit because he had refused to comply with their official “probity” procedures for the screening of candidates and coordination of campaigns etcetera.

    You can view all of that sort of stuff as a bit Orwellian – and he is a former convenor of the party after all – but never the less, he gave the strong impression that he was going to be trouble and hard to handle. The state council probably made the right decision.

    It caused a bit of strife, but it would have been a million times worse if he’d been voted in as number one rather than number two on the ticket. No-one gives the greens more than a very outside chance of a second LC seat.

    Arguements ensued over the “sovereignty” of the membership being overturned by the state council, which may have some validity, I haven’t decided. The State council argued that the members’ votes weren’t informed ones because the members didn’t have all the details and knowledge of Paul Petit’s past – i.e his “disciplinary” problems.

    This arguement may have some merit to it, but if the voters had to be well informed about the candidates they were voting for, turnouts to federal elections would be reduced to about 10%.

    Personally I disapprove of postal ballots and think members should have to actually attend a meeting to cast a vote. Exceptions could be made for those in rural and remote areas, but then in a statewide preselection the state council should probably take the show on the road and visit most parts of the state anyway.

    I don’t know much about Simon Jones, other than he is a typical middle-aged, Adelaide Hills based Green. Active in the local community but not known anywhere else.

    The Greens here in SA have a real problem talent wise. Mark Parnell is excellent (if a bit weak on the non-environment issues) and Sarah Hanson Young has quite a good profile, but, like the candidates for the number 2 spot on the LC ticket, the three candidates for this year’s senate race were dreadful.

    Sure, the SA senate seat in the non-Xenophon election year isn’t one of the more winnable ones in the country, but still. I heard talk that more than a few people put “seek a further candidate” as their first preference.

  25. “The Greens here in SA have a real problem talent wise.” – well, that begs the question of what the party is looking for in terms of talent. if we mean a high-profile individual then yes, that’s probably true of a few places. However, if you mean that their doesn’t seem to be candidates of suitable intellectual ability and community credibility that’s another problem altogether. I would hope that is simply the former (lack of profile) as this could be overcome through extended campaigning. I would have thought, given her previous political experience, that Tammy Jennings would be good candidate in terms of ability, but may lack a certain amount of electorate credibility and profile – although I also note her involvement in groups such as the Mental Health Council, YWCA and Youth Affairs Councils she does have experience in the social justice field/community.

    Perhaps, along with sorting through preselection rules, the Australian Greens might need to give some thought to candidate selection and training (including succession planning?), rather than leaving it all to chance? But then, all parties struggle with talent pool issues (just look at the NSW ALP!!).

  26. “However, if you mean that their doesn’t seem to be candidates of suitable intellectual ability and community credibility that’s another problem altogether.”

    Stewart I tend to judge candidates on their ability to “perform” in a media sense. Parties like the ALP with their dozens of ultra safe seats can afford to put quiet and thoughtful or entirely locally focussed candidates into parliaments. There will always be a core of good “performers” who can do the business with the media on everyone’s behalf and cover for the duds.

    But for a party like the greens – where winnable seats are rarer than gold – it is vital that the party preselect people who will be able to attract (good) attention in the media. Every state in Australia needs to have at least one green parliamentarian who is a household name (whether before or after their election), otherwise the greens have no chance of ever making any serious progress.

    I think many in the greens don’t understand exactly what a good candidate in this respect is. They tend to overestimate the ability of small-fish local people to translate their community work onto a larger scale.

    The problem is that the people who make good media performers are often a bit egotistical and this freaks greens out. They don’t like dominant types of people. But the greens need them. It’s a bit like the Nationals with Barnaby Joyce. He upset a lot of his colleagues (particularly in his early days), but his egotistical grandstanding is political gold for all of them. The Greens need to understand this lesson.

    In New Zealand they’re so short-sighted they actually have two leaders of the parliamentary party! One man and one woman. The greens need to drop this sort of crap as well as the ridiculous dislike of even calling someone a leader. Using wanky words like “convenor” instead of leader might fly in left-wing activism circles, but with the mainstream electorate it is just a bad joke.

    Green members of parliament need to be big personalities who can compete for space in the mainstream media. Being well-regarded community activists isn’t enough. We need fewer Lyn Allisons, fewer Vicki Bournes and more Don Chipps.

    Because who has ever heard of Vicki Bourne or Lyn Allison? Maybe fifteen percent of the population? They weren’t BAD or unqualified members of parliament, but in the business of getting attention and attracting mainstream support, they were essentially useless. Too many greens (I deliberately name no names – and have used former democrats as examples) are in this mould.

  27. Salmon; interesting argument. But perhaps we can separate out your two arguments above – 1. the Leader question, and 2. the media performer question.

    On the first, I remain unconvinced by demands that the party needs a “leader” to tell them what to do. While most Greens have made the point that it is only a title, it is what it embodies is where the problem lies. So, in WA, Tas and federally the Greens have “Leaders”. The level to which they and their offices influence the workings and policies of the respective parties varies. The ACT has a “Parliamentary Convenor” who acts as the title suggests. As far as I’m aware the Vic Greens don’t have a formalised leader, even if they have a media figure (Greg Barber) and a person who sorts out the votes in parliament (Sue Pennicuik). Does that make them “Leaders” or media savvy? And WA did not have a formal “Leader” for most of its existence, but the media were perfectly capable of sorting out who they needed to talk to and who was the leading spokesperson for the party.

    Yes the Greens do have something against egotistical people – but I would also suggest this is linked to a credibility and integrity question. It takes a certain amount of ego to want to be an MP in the first place, and loads of chutzpah to put your views out publicly. I would note that Bob has been doing this for almost 30 years, and his integrity and credibility are not questioned even if for most of that time he wasn’t a “Leader” of the party.

    As to media performers – a lot of that CAN be learned, especially if building upon a healthy ego. Looking at those Green MPs who have done well in the media, I’d suggest most have worked damn hard to build both their profile and credibility – Giz Watson in WA being one that springs to mind. Christine Milne is another who has worked assiduously to build not just her profile but also the credibility of her arguments – and is now being vindicated for her work around climate change.

    Lastly, I think we will see more people enter the party with an eye to being an MP as the opportunities grow for people to be elected. Whether this brings those with both egos and who are media savvy is an open question, but it will naturally enlarge the pool of talent. It will also depend on the kind of seat we’re talking about (local electorate MP, regional seat, ala Tas, Vic or WA, or state-wide seat) as to whether that local campaigning experience is valued.

    Oh, and I keep hearing about attracting “mainstream” support – what is actually meant by this? 20% of the vote? 30%? And what does it mean in terms of policy (as most people do still vote with an eye to policy outcomes)?

  28. Stewart if you are satisfied with Christine Milne and view her as being a success in terms of building a profile for the greens, then to me that just sums up the problem in thinking within the greens.

    I have nothing against her personally, but if she becomes leader on the retirement of Bob Brown, then the greens will be going nowhere. Outside of Tasmania 80% of the population have never even heard of Christine Milne. That number will only barely move if she becomes leader.

    The problem with the greens is that they pop the champagne corks when they get seven percent of the vote at a federal election or ten percent in an opinion poll. These are not good results – particularly given the populist, centrist nature of labor and the lack of any other minor party competition.

    With the move by Labor to the centre over the last twenty-five years, and with the collapse of the Democrats, there is a huge amount of political space for the Greens to occupy. They are failing to do this, and in my opinion it is because they are culturally unable to preselect the types of people who are able to effectively communicate in our modern mass-media society.

    New South Wales is Australia’s largest state, and has by far the largest greens branch, yet they have just preselected Lee Rhiannon for the senate! As if Kerry Nettle wasn’t bad enough. They will never get anywhere unless they preselect better people – not just better people, but normal people.

    And let’s not argue about what constitutes “normal” – people know normal when they see it, and it doesn’t happen often enough when they look at a greens candidate or member of parliament.

    How long will it be until the greens in Australia decide to preselect a proud pot-smoking Rastafarian to a winnable position, like the Greens in New Zealand did? Madness, absolute madness.

    Yes, I know he was actually a good MP who worked extremely hard for vulnerable and marginalised people. I know that. But I’m not a “normal” voter – the greens already have my vote, but there aren’t enough people like me to allow the greens to fulfill their potential.

  29. You ask first for people who are “media performers” then for people who are “normal people”. More often than not those are mutually exclusive.

    It’s hard to argue that any people who are willing to immerse themselves in the cauldron that is political life are “normal people”. I believe most people – normal people – don’t give two hoots about the people in politics. Names don’t matter as much as they used to in today’s soundbite age: rather, it’s brands. “Normal” in politics is more about image management than being someone one would have a beer with.

    One can prognosticate about the formula for a party to gain power but I would not be happy to be part of – or vote for – a party who is willing to compromise their core principles to that end. That is the Green brand: integrity first. It’s a tough sell because the public trust of politicians is regrettably so low that “politics with integrity” seems almost paradoxical, but the Greens are directly fighting that.

    I guess that’s why it’s so hard to represent the Greens: one has to show integrity, and it appears Paul Petit did not sufficiently demonstrate that to the Greens SA council.

    Integrity and “image management” more often than not don’t go hand-in-hand, unfortunately. It doesn’t mean that a talented political support team can’t deliver on both fronts, however, and that’s what I believe the federal Greens are trying to build.

    As for “leader” of the party – did some research on the NZ Greens after your mention of a Rasta MP and learned they have a female and a male co-leader. I like that idea. The retirement of Bob Brown may see something like that come to pass: Christine Milne and Scott Ludlam, perhaps.

  30. Deconst, I agree with you about the “brand” of the greens being important. The problem is that the Greens aren’t associated primarily by normal voters with “integrity first” rather they are associated with being weird.

    And that is the word I hear when I try and talk to people about politics and try to persuade them to vote greens. A few years back John Howard used the word “kooky” to describe the greens – quite rich coming from Uncle Fester himself you might say – but it resonated with normal voters because in their minds that is the image they have of the greens. Weird, kooky, living on another planet.

    This is the greens brand for the 90% of the electorate which will not vote for us. Not because the greens chose it and not because it’s neccesarily accurate or fair, but because that’s how things have worked out. Even ordinarily decent and fair journalists can’t write about the greens without a titter or some reference to tofu or mung beans. You might say this is the journalists problem – and their fault – and this is true, but it doesn’t change anything for us. The media is what it is, and it is up to the greens to change their approach and change their image, otherwise, as I said before, they will get nowhere.

    Preselecting the right people is key to this. What we need is people who are able to come across as being normal. Kerry Nettle and Lee Rhiannon do not come across as normal. Anyone who thinks they do needs to expand their social circle and start mixing with ordinary people. People like Kerry Nettle and Lee Rhiannon make ordinary voters roll their eyes. And in many respects I don’t blame them. I struggle not to roll my eyes myself when I see them on TV, and I always vote green.

    As for the idea of having both a male and female leader, this is NOT a good idea. Because it plays into the negative stereotypes of the greens which they need to dispel. It makes the greens look (yes) weird and slaves to political correctness, affirmative action, and all the left-wing wankiness which is associated with those things.

    Wankiness, this is another word associated with the greens. Kooky, weird and wanky. Too much “save the gay whales” and not enough focus on bread and butter issues that matter to normal voters – which incidentally, are issues on which the progressive left actually has a lot to say.

  31. It’s not the representatives of the Greens that are the reason that the Greens are not elected into parliament: it’s that the Greens platform is difficult to swallow for the general public because it offers a real alternative and that, frankly, is scary. The major parties share platforms far more than at any other time of political history.

    “Left-wing wankiness” is just a matter of perception. I’ve got a demotivator calendar and one of the maxims is: “The downside of being better than everyone else is that people tend to assume you’re pretentious.” It’s difficult being right because it really gets on peoples’ nerves. Rather than exclaiming how right we are, we’re better off just keeping our heads down and working for change, one voter at a time. Ignore ideologues’ claims that the Greens are ‘kooky’ and ‘weird’ – they really want to sell you something, so instead point out how shortsighted and self-serving their own message is.

    Preselecting the right people is not the key to convince people that the Greens are normal. That’s up to the members of the Greens to do, by being responsible, solid citizens of the community themselves. “Grassroots” means convincing others from the roots, not from the leaves.

  32. Deconst, you write:
    ““Grassroots” means convincing others from the roots, not from the leaves.”

    This is not the way our modern mass media society works. Grassroots political activism doesn’t work on a large scale and with a society which is disengaged from the political process.

    Getting a green onto Sunrise every week to chat about pointless crap in a light and airy way with Mel and Kochie will do more for the greens overnight than every greens member with their “grassroots” activism does for the greens in a lifetime.

    This is just a fact, unpleasant as it may be. And the greens must start to deal with the world as it is, not as how they wish it might be.

  33. I had to laugh at the “typical hills based Green” comment. It reminded me of another Simon Jones who played Arthur Dent in the Hitchhikers Guide where humans were described as “mostly harmless”

  34. Actually Simon, I believe the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was describing the planet Earth as “Mostly Harmless”, I am quite sure that Douglas Adams had no such delusions about humans!

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