The recent council election was one of the toughest in the twenty-one year history of Newcastle Greens, with an outcome to match.
We now have a multi-millionaire developer as our new Lord Mayor, and a council with at least four Liberal councillors (plus Allan Robinson), swept in on the wave of Jeff McCloy’s advertising blitz.
We confirmed our position as the third force in the city’s politics, though our vote was down across the board.
Ironically, we may improve our representation on the council.
As I write, we know that Michael Osborne – our sole Greens councillor on the outgoing council – has been reelected in Ward 1, and that the final make up of the new council hangs on two seats that Greens candidates (Therese Doyle in Ward 2 and Keith Parsons in Ward 3) look like they will win or lose by a handful of votes.
If they are both elected, the three Greens and four Labor councillors may be able to restrain the worst of Mr McCloy’s agenda. If we lose either of these contests, we need to brace ourselves for a council that is likely to be a rubber-stamp for Mr McCloy for the next four years.
It’s an election that reminds us that political fortunes wax and wane, but that we are in this for the long haul.
As the Australian electorate generally – and the Newcastle electorate in particular – veers toward more conservative politics, it’s crucial that The Greens stand firm on defending local democracy and our basic community services, and work for a more just and sustainable city.
Perhaps the most positive lesson we can take from this election is the reassurance that – even in the toughest circumstances – we can put together a solid grassroots campaign that can do all the basics.
We managed to put a leaflet in almost every letter-box, and to have almost every booth covered for handing out our how-to-votes on election day. A Liberal candidate admitted to me that he envied our ability to do this.
We can do this because people like you care enough to help when the call goes out. When the political tide turns – as it will – it’s this solid grassroots commitment that will provide the foundation for a Greens resurgence.
For me, it was a privilege to be The Greens Lord Mayoral candidate for this election. I want to thank everyone who helped out in any way, and I hope you continue to support The Greens and our ongoing campaign for a healthier, happier, fairer Newcastle.
Newcastle Greens Lord Mayoral candidate, 2012