Labor and the Punch lie about Greens and Hanson


Plenty of people have already taken News Ltd hack David Penberthy to task for his lie that the Greens preferenced Pauline Hanson in the Legislative Council over the Labor Party. It’s a pretty easily disproved claim, considering the Greens did not give any preference to any other party in the Legislative Council, and it was made clear on all the party’s how-to-votes.

Anyway, let’s get back to Pauline Hanson. Since last Saturday Labor MP Luke Foley has repeatedly attacked the Greens and claimed that the party had helped Pauline Hanson by not preferencing the Labor Party.

In reality, the Greens didn’t “resurrect” Pauline Hanson’s political career, the 2% of NSW voters who voted for her did. So far not a single Greens preference has played a role in deciding whether Hanson is elected, and it appears that will continue to be the case. The same can’t be said for Labor preferences.

All through this period the Greens made their position clear: the Labor Party’s record had made it impossible to support, and it was believed that preferencing Labor would actually reduce the Greens vote such as it would elect more right-wing candidates.

Foley’s entire position is based on the claim during the campaign and since that the Labor Party preferenced the Greens in the upper house while the Greens did not reciprocate. But is that true?

It doesn’t appear to be so. On all Labor how-to-votes seen before election day, the ALP did preference the Greens in the upper house, even if the language was confusing and the words ‘The Greens’ were illegible.

After substantial research, it has been found that, in at least 35 electorates, the election-day how-to-vote changed its advice, dropping a second preference for the Greens. Here’s one I found online. In only twelve seats has there been confirmation that the ALP did do what they said they would do. I don’t know what they did in the other 46, but the trend suggests that the ALP went back on their public statements in about three quarters of seats.

Did the ALP really care about stopping Pauline Hanson from getting into the Legislative Council? Or was it just a convenient tactic to attack the Greens for not propping up the hated government?

As it stands now, the Labor Party’s preferences may matter, whereas the Greens preferences will not. The Greens are running just ahead of Pauline Hanson on the above-the-line count, and Hanson’s very strong below-the-line performance suggests she will outpoll the Greens by less than 4000 votes on the final primary vote.

The Labor Party’s sixth candidate, Andrew Ferguson, is expected to fall behind the Fishing Party, Family First, John Hatton and No Parking Meters. His preferences could decide this race. The question now is whether Labor preferences will flow strongly enough to the Greens to stop Pauline Hanson getting in.

All along the Greens argued that preferences could only have an impact in a narrow circumstance, and that a decision to preference Labor would drive Greens voters to the Coalition. Labor’s argument was that it was “unprincipled” to not preference the other party in order to stop Pauline Hanson. Not only did Labor not preference the Greens, but they lied about it and tried to hide it, while continuing to bash the Greens.

I believe that enough Labor preferences will flow to the Greens to stop Pauline Hanson, but you have to ask what “principles” are left with Labor and Luke Foley when they cry so much about the dangers of Pauline Hanson then hand out how-to-votes that say “Just Vote 1”.

According to the logic of Luke Foley, the Labor Party, after crying foul for weeks about the Greens not preferencing them, put up their hands and said “we don’t care who wins”, and then they lied about it. So who is “rotten and unprincipled”?

Also: when I was scrutineering yesterday, the ALP scrutineers were focusing on knocking out Greens votes, even as it became clear that the ALP couldn’t win. The only effect of this is to make it easier for Hanson to win. So principled!

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  1. I couldnt agree more with your comments Ben.

    Labor Left’s spin machine is working overtime. It’s hard to accept that your time on the stage is passing, sadly the ALP Left only got about 30 years of dominance in the inner city.

    There’s a pattern here Leichardt Council – the ALP voted with the Liberals to keep the Greens out in 2004, then the ALP got almost wiped out from Leichhart iCouncil n 2008. The ALP desperately tried to keep the Greens out in Balmain and Marrackville and looks to have only partly succeeded. If Jamie wins Balmain the ALP will be about as competitive in Balmain as they are in Sydney in 2015. In 2015 Marrackville will also go.

    Of course, time will catch up with big daddy, Albo in Grayndler in 2013 or 2016 at the latest. You can forestall the demographics for only so long.

    Funniest laugh – Bob Carr blog post on March 27 “Green Party Failure” with a big picture of Verity- Surely Bob of anyone in politics knows the danger of premature declaration.

  2. David Penberthy is a pathetic liar and I hope Mediawatch do a story about this. It’s so tiring seeing News Ltd lies become the accepted norm in the media. They need to be held to account for their deceit.

  3. I wonder who really gains pouring fire on the pure ones vs the evil empire battle, and the Greens vs Labor war? I do recommend reading page 6 of today’s Weekend Australian ( if you can stand it without exploding). At least it makes it crystal clear what is actually going on. That should have been obvious a long time ago, or at least since the Coalition gave Melbourne to Adam Bandt,

    Millard and everyone else who are seething with outrage about Penbo’s and Labor’s treachery, think, think, think…

  4. Yeah, welcome back to the real world folks, where the ALP is the party which put Steve Fielding in the Senate and the DLP in Vic upper house ahead of the Greens, and preferred doing deals with the Shooters and Fred Nile in the last NSW parliament, such are their ‘progressive’ principles.

    Ultimately the ALP culture is obsessed with their own power above anything else. For them lying and premeditated deception are acceptable tactics. I’ve been involved in campaigns where I’ve seen them do things like invent fake community groups intended to wedge the Greens.

    It’s easy to become very cynical about organised politics when you see political party cultures like this which seem devoid of basic human ethics.

    I’m proud that the Greens have a strong ethical and principled grounding, and I think Labor’s tactics remind us how important and valuable that is to our identity and what attracts many people like me to join or support the Greens.

  5. “I’ve been involved in campaigns where I’ve seen them do things like invent fake community groups intended to wedge the Greens. ”

    With respect Nick, I’ve seen the Greens do that too.

    Yes, Labor stuffed up hugely by preferencing Fielding in ’04 and apparently the DLP (I didn’t know about that), but I still maintain that Ian Cohen was right in saying that it is ridiculous to pretend that Labor doesn’t have a far better environmental record than the Libs, let alone Pauline Hanson, and the Greens should preference accordingly. Frankly I considered it to be unethical to not preference the more progressive parties in with a chance of seats when there were so many reactionary forces vying for them. Like Labor if they did not preference the Greens in some seats (they did where I was), the Greens should take some responsibility of the reality of the situation.

    I worry that certain Greens revel in being the ‘resistance’ – that is to say, the only force for good in parliament (i.e eternal opposition, but at least we didn’t compromise with any of what we believe in) a little too much.

  6. All this assumes that A Green recommendation to preference in a particular direction will make any particular difference to what people voting Green will do.

    does anyone have any evidence on this?

  7. I don’t have it on hand, but yes, there is plenty of evidence that when a party recommends preferences that a greater number of its voters follow that recommendation than if they don’t.

  8. The question you need to ask is:

    Had the Greens preferenced Labor (or even the Libs)
    INSTEAD of preferencing the 0.004% “Socialist Alliance” and then exhausting all further preferences in the Legislative Council,

    Would Hanson now be looking at a return to politics ?

    Everyone knows the answer to that,

    And no matter how hard you try to spin it ..
    Greens failure to preference WINNABLE alternatives has caused a return of One Nation.

  9. I don’t think that Hanson being elected again is necessarily bad. I mean, it’s just going to embarrass the right-wing. One more accidentally stupid right-winger couldn’t hurt too much. It’ll provide for four years of entertainment at best, and if the Liberal majority works too closely to Pauline’s tune they’ll have the problem of being associated with her.

  10. You have no idea what you are talking about “Get Real Dude”.

    Greens preferences will play no part in deciding whether Hanson gets in, since it will be a race between Greens and Hanson for the final seat. Instead, Labor preferences may have an influence, since the ALP candidate will be excluded. Labor were the ones who said all along how horrible it was that the Greens weren’t preferencing, then at the last minute decided to not preference either.

    So far there has been no return of Pauline Hanson, and if there is, it will be the fault of Labor, not the Greens.

  11. And on Balmain – does anyone really know why, at such short notice, Maire Sheehan decided to throw her hat in the ring? I’m sure it must have been based on a personal desire to stand up for a vibrant democracy and had nothing to do with any other strange, perhaps personal reason. But you never can be too sure.

  12. There seems to be one crucial fact overlooked here – THERE IS NO PREFERENCING BY PARTIES IN THE LC.

    This was abolished before the 2003 election.

    While parties can preference other parties in federal Senate elections the only people who can preference candidates in NSW elections are voters.

    This was brought in for the very reason of stopping fringe dwellers like Hanson et al doing preference swaps with others and getting a seat.

    The NSW system is being considered for the Senate.

    The only way parties can influence preferences is through How To Vote cards.

    I find it highly unlikely that the Greens failure to place Labor second on its HTV card would lead Green voters to end up preferencing Hanson on the ballot sheet.

  13. Ben Raue: Theres an official pdf of preference flows at the State Electoral Commission website.
    Read it yourself out and quit regurgitating juvenile undergrad student propaganda.

    The final MLC seat has Hanson ahead with the ALP and Greens alternating at 2nd depending on how preferences are allocated as each subsequent candidate is knocked-out.

    Here’s the fact…
    The Greens refused to preference AGAINST Hanson ..

    For all Greens voting above the line in the MLC, preferences exhaust after the “Socialist Alternative” was knocked out of counting.

    The Libs put Greens ahead of Hanson, Labor put Greens ahead of Hanson even the frikken CDP put the Greens ahead of Hanson.

    If Hanson doesn’t get in, it will be from ALP AND Lib preferences to the Greens.
    If it’s Hanson vs ALP for the last spot .. Then she’s back

    Then the Greens will have to “PLEASE EXPLAIN” to the public.

  14. @Get real dude

    No I am sorry you are wrong.

    This is not the Federal Election. There are NO preference flows. Just whatr box voters choose to number. Plus the Greens if ti comes down to a Greens an Hanson contest ythe Greens preferences would never flow anyway. Not even Federally

  15. Also Greens did not preference Socialist Alliance

    There are no How to Votes I have seen marked as such. Nor really would there be any reason given the SA is sure to be knoced out first

  16. The Libs also did not preference the Greens. Anywhere upper or lower house.

    There is no automatic preferncing in the NSW election.

    Ignorance is never a good thing

  17. @”Get Real Dude”

    Almost everything you say is completely wrong.

    Not only have I been reading those reports from the Legislative Council Count Centre, I spent four days there this week watching the count myself, so I am aware of what is going on. Here is the link, because clearly you haven’t read it.

    If you actually look at those figures on the website, they have the Greens well ahead of Hanson on the count (0.56 quotas to 0.46) with Labor trailing, not just behind the Greens and Hanson, but also No Parking Meters, John Hatton, Family First and the Fishing Party.

    I happen to believe those votes will change as the figures come in from more country areas, and Hanson and Greens will draw neck-and-neck at the end of all primary vote counting, but Labor still remains miles behind. Labor will not win, or even come close to winning.

    The Greens did not preference Socialist Alliance on any how-to-vote card. The Greens did nominate SA as the party who would receive their preferences if enough candidates died that meant that the Greens did not have 15 candidates on their ticket. The Greens ran the full 21, so they would need to have had seven candidates die for this contingency to kick in. On how-to-vote cards, there was no preference at all.

    The Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party only issued preferences to each other and then exhausted. They did not give preferences to any other party. I don’t know of any political party that issued any more than 2 preferences on their how-to-vote. It is completely wrong to say the Liberal Party and the CDP preferenced the Greens ahead of Hanson.

    As for the Labor Party, they said before election day they would preference the Greens, but it appears they went back on that. We have found at least 35 seats where Labor changed it’s how-to-votes to not preference the Greens, and only 7 where they did what they said they would do. We haven’t found evidence for the other 51, but I assume many others also didn’t preference the Greens.

    If Hanson is ahead of the Greens and Labor preferences don’t flow strongly enough to the Greens to elect Buckingham, it will be because Labor, despite their public lies to the contrary, did not preference the Greens.

  18. ‘Also: when I was scrutineering yesterday, the ALP scrutineers were focusing on knocking out Greens votes, even as it became clear that the ALP couldn’t win. The only effect of this is to make it easier for Hanson to win. So principled!’

    I wonder about this quote from you though Ben,

    Doesn’t make much sense to me. Sure the real world often is nonsensical, but maybe this was a communication problem or just some rogues. Might be a bit tough tarring other with this brush

  19. @ Roberto on Balmain

    I’m assuming you are talking about the DA refusal, which Jamie Parker mentioned on ABC TV and radio, and that in raising this question now (totally irrelevantly) you are trying to make some sort comment on her motives.

    I am in the local media and I received some correspondence on that from someone who self-described themselves as “a friend of Jamie Parker”. (I know the person, and know that is accurate) The message was libelous, offensive and contained personal abuse. I have no idea of its accuracy and I couldn’t care less.

    I threw the email in the bin, but it did prompt me to make a few phone calls, including to Maire Sheehan. Roberto, whatever you are trying to do, spell it out. Or stop wasting everyone’s time.

  20. Well said Ben, couldnt agree more. Just one thing. Im trying to work out what exactly you mean by Labor srutineers knocking out Greens votes? Thanks

  21. @Andrew,

    There were lots of ALP scrutineers, and they were primarily focusing on Greens votes all week. They weren’t rogues, that’s what scrutineers do.

    Of course it’s possible it took a little while for it to become obvious that Labor had lost any chance of winning, but this has gone on for a long time.

    Anyway, all along the most likely outcome was that the Greens and Hanson would compete for the final spot. So while there was a slim chance of Labor knocking out enough Greens votes to overtake, the more likely consequence was to make it easier for Hanson. Some of their scrutes did target Hanson, but most went for the Greens.


    Scrutineers focus on other people’s ballots to find ballots sorted into the wrong pile or ones that may be informal. However it’s very hard to do this in the upper house count due to a whole bunch of reasons, including how ballots are data-entered, and the fact that scrutineers are outnumbered many times over.


    Of course you’d expect Labor to behave like this but I still think it’s worth exposing lies and dirty tricks. Would you expect a major party to let such lies go past without comment.

  22. errr….if Pauline Hanson gets elected its because people opted to vote for her/preference her themselves. I dont like it but if people want her up then people want her up.

    Its called democracy @Getrealdude…suck it up.

  23. “If Hanson is ahead of the Greens and Labor preferences don’t flow strongly enough to the Greens to elect Buckingham, it will be because Labor, despite their public lies to the contrary, did not preference the Greens.”

    That’s a bit rich to criticise given the Greens non-preferencing stance. All left-of-centre parties should shoulder a responsibility/blame if Hanson is elected when the left-of-centre parties did not preference. (As I said before, for the record, Labor did preference the Greens in Heffron).

  24. @Russell

    So, as someone in the local media, perhaps you can enlighten us as to why Maire Sheehan decided to stand. Did she think she was going to win?

  25. Hi Roberto – I’m happy to oblige, even though this is probably the wrong thread for that discussion. I’m going to post my answer in the Balmain electorate section.

Comments are closed.