Newcastle Greens announce preference recommendations

Following consultation with its members and supporters, the Newcastle Greens have agreed on the following recommendations to Greens’ voters in the electoral divisions of Charlestown, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Swansea and Wallsend.

The Newcastle Greens emphasis that these are only recommendations, and that every voter has the right and ability to cast their vote in the order of their choice.

Unlike the compulsory preferential system used in Federal elections, the optional preferential system used to elect members to the NSW Legislative Assembly does not require voters to number every box. Consequentially, voters often will not fill in all the squares, and, similarly, Newcastle Greens have not recommended preferences for all candidates.

However, we encourage individual voters (Green or otherwise) to indicate preferences on their ballots where they do prefer one or more candidates, over others.

The Greens’ organisational structure is different to other political parties. We are a party committed to grassroots democracy. There is no centralised control – no Sussex St equivalent – a fact often not understood by some in the media. Newcastle Greens are an autonomous Local Group with the constitutional right to pre-select its local candidates, and to determine its own preference recommendations.

Newcastle Greens have cooperated with The Greens NSW in achieving an agreement – a collective bargaining agreement – with NSW Labor that delivers upper house preferences and significantly improves the possibility of Greens being elected to Upper House seats.

Historically, The Greens have recommended preferences for progressive independents before Labor, and have not recommended preferences for the Coalition. Deciding preference recommendations for the upcoming state election has been very difficult, as the ALP has performed so poorly. The Coalition has shown it would be even worse.

Newcastle Greens have various criteria for determining preferences. Only after a candidate or political party has satisfied us that they warrant being recommended to receive a preference, will we discuss mutually beneficial preference recommendations. In some instances, if there is sufficient trust in a competing candidate, we will recommend a preference without receiving any reciprocal benefit. This is the case in a number of the preference decisions we have made with the six electorates we are dealing with here.

The issues we investigated with other candidates and considered in determining whether to recommend preference to them were:
* Policy or position on climate change;
* Policy or position on the Port Stephens – Great Lakes Marine Park (Port Stephens);
* Policy or position on Catherine Hill Bay (Swansea);
* Opposition to handing over industrial relations to the Howard government;
* Support to revoke Part 3A of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act;
* Support for legislation banning developer donations;
* The position the candidates would take in the case of a hung parliament.

The preference recommendations for the Newcastle Greens are as follows:

Charlestown

Jane Smith – The Greens 1
Matthew Morris – Labor 2

∑ There is no progressive independent candidate in Charlestown.
∑ Matthew Morris is a locally pre-selected incumbent Labor member who survived an earlier parachute raid from Sydney ALP power-brokers.
∑ Charlestown was included in the broader agreement between the ALP and The Greens NSW.

Wallsend

Keith Parsons – The Greens 1
Sonia Hornery – Labor 2

∑ There is no progressive independent candidate in Wallsend.
∑ Sonia Hornery has been locally pre-selected.
∑ Ms Hornery has a strong record on industrial relations.
∑ Wallsend was included in the agreement between ALP and The Greens NSW.

Port Stephens

Charmian Eckersley – The Greens 1
Jim Arneman – Labor 2

∑ Newcastle Greens welcome the establishment of the Port Stephens – Great Lakes Marine Park but do not believe it goes far enough. Whilst we consider Labor’s Marine Park inadequate, we are horrified that the Coalition and other candidates in this marginal seat have been prepared to play politics with this against the interests of both Port Stephens voters and the environment. Any reduction in size or level of protection is viewed with great concern.
∑ The ALP candidate, Jim Arneman appears to us to have the potential to be a progressive voice in the Port Stephens community.
∑ Port Stephens is included in the agreement between the ALP and The Greens NSW.

Swansea

Sue Wynn – The Greens 1
Peter Lee – Democrats 2
Laurie Coughlan – Independent 3
Robert Coombs – Labor 4

∑ The Democrats have historically had a position on many issues in line with those of The Greens.
∑ The Independent candidate, Laurie Coghlan, supports the local community’s opposition to a) the ruinous planning proposal for Catherine Hill Bay; b) Federal industrial relations takeover; and c) developer donations.
∑ Swansea is included in the agreement between ALP and The Greens NSW.

Lake Macquarie

Suzanne Pritchard – The Greens 1
Greg Piper – Independent 2
Jeff Hunter – Labor 3

∑ We regard Greg Piper as a progressive independent. During his political career, Cr Piper has generally taken a progressive approach on social and environmental issues.
∑ Cr Piper has stated he would support legislation in relation to developer donations so there is a level playing field.
∑ He has also assured us that he would not support the referral of the state’s industrial relations power to Howard’s Work Choices.
∑ Lake Macquarie was NOT included in the agreement between ALP and The Greens.

Newcastle

Michael Osborne – The Greens 1
Bryce Gaudry 2

Newcastle Greens acknowledge the role of the ALP for giving Newcastle its most interesting election in history.

Newcastle Greens have decided to recommend a preference for Bryce Gaudry only. We are making no preference recommendation for either John Tate or Jodie McKay. Our how-to-vote cards for Newcastle will urge Greens voters to follow our recommendation up to number 2, and then to preference other candidates according to their individual preferences.

∑ Bryce Gaudry:
a) has consistently supported the retention of rail through to Newcastle;
b) led opposition to the privatisation of electricity generators;
c) will support legislation to ban developer donations to candidates and political parties;
d) is well respected locally – local ALP members were not given a chance to say whether they wanted him or not;
e) has called for the repeal of Part 3A of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act; and
f) has effectively adopted our policy on establishing a renewable energy industry in Newcastle.

∑ As a party committed to grassroots democracy, Newcastle Greens share the concern of many ALP members that Mr Gaudry’s removal by Sydney ALP powerbrokers is the thin end of the wedge and the selection of celebrity candidates in this manner is an affront to democracy.
∑ Newcastle Greens believe Mr Gaudry is the candidate most likely to support Greens’ positions and policies.
∑ John Tate has constantly opposed Greens’ initiatives, policies and positions during his time as Lord Mayor.
∑ Jodie McKay was parachuted in by ALP power brokers against the will of the majority of local branches.
∑ Ms McKay has an untenable position on the continued expansion of the coal industry.
∑ There was significant opposition from members of Newcastle Greens to recommending preferences to either John Tate or Jodie McKay.
∑ The preference framework agreement between the ALP and The Greens recognises the position adopted by Newcastle Greens in relation to the seat of Newcastle.

For more information please contact:

Jane Smith Charlestown 4961 6864
Keith Parsons Wallsend 0408 446 022
Charmian Eckersley Port Stephens 0407 730 410
Sue Wynn Swansea 0431 637 643
Suzanne Pritchard Lake Macquarie 0438 596 741
Michael Osborne Newcastle 0439 442 984

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