Greens announce Newcastle preference recommendations

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Greens today announced that they would not be recommending preferences to any of the other major candidates on their how-to-vote cards in the Newcastle electorate.

Announcing the decision, The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton, said that local Greens members saw little real difference between Jodi McKay (Labor), John Tate (Independent) and Tim Owen (Liberal) in the key policy issues that figure most prominently for Greens voters.

“Greens voters in Newcastle care most about climate change, and moving Newcastle and the Hunter away from coal dependency to a renewable energy economy; about sustainable urban development and public transport; and about stopping the privatisation of our public assets and services,” Mr Sutton said.

“Climate change hardly registers on the policy radar for Ms McKay, Mr Tate and Mr Owen. They all support expanded coal mining and exports, and have shown no real support for a planned transition away from coal.

“None of them supports the recent key recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into Public Transport, and they have all supported cutting inter-city rail services to Newcastle station.

“Under Jodi McKay’s watch, public transport in Newcastle has deteriorated, and she is pushing policies – including cuts to train services – that would see them decline further.

“Mr Tate and Mr Owen have failed to indicate how they would improve the city’s public transport system, and both appear to be pursuing vague and dubious notions that are more likely to waste even more valuable time and public money, and reduce public transport patronage.

“Ms McKay has actively supported the privatisation of electricity, and of our local public beaches and coastal parks. The Coalition’s record on supporting privatisation when in government speaks for itself. Mr Tate has made public statements that indicate some concern about privatisation, but – given the prominence of this issue in this election – it has been a relatively minor aspect of his campaign.

“Neither Ms McKay nor Mr Owen approached The Greens about preferences, and our local assessment of their (and their party’s) records on our key issues provided no basis on which we could credibly recommend Greens voters to preference them.

“A representative of Mr Tate did indicate his support for a significant number of matters on our list of criteria. However, local members noted that Mr Tate’s record on a number of these issues (e.g., local control of planning decisions, and the Newcastle rail line) during his term as Lord Mayor appeared to be at odds with these assurances, and that his general record on environmental, planning and local democracy issues since being elected Lord Mayor was not one that Greens voters would support.

“Consequently, in Newcastle we will be recommending preferences only to Zane Alcorn (Socialist Alliance) and Rod Noble (Independent – Progressive Labour Party), who both have a history of active community engagement in local progressive politics.

“We emphasise that how-to-vote cards from The Greens or any other party or candidate are merely recommendations to voters, and that individual voters have total control over how they allocate their preferences, despite the widespread misconception that preferences are somehow controlled by parties and candidates,” Mr Sutton said.

“I encourage Greens voters who prefer a particular candidate or party before another for their own reasons to vote 1 for The Greens and then go on and allocate preferences to the other candidates in the order that they see fit,” Mr Sutton said.

For further information or comment, please contact John Sutton (Greens candidate for Newcastle), on 4969 2668 or 0411 154 004. John Sutton’s campaign blog is at: http://newcastle2011.blogspot.com

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