Greens ructions over Vic preselections … Abbott and his ‘brothers’ … ‘gay love story’ over immigration ruling …
From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Grumbles amid the Greens. The Victorian Greens are settling their preselections for next November’s state election — and there’s some ructions in the ranks. Christine Milne staffer Ellen Sandell was this week preselected for the state seat of Melbourne, prompting this tip:
“Adam Bandt has stacked Melbourne branch in the recent preselection for the state seat of Melbourne. Ellen Sandell was parachuted into the seat with the support of Adam just three weeks prior to the ballot. She won the preselection in a very surprising landslide against a long-term member and party favourite Alison Parkes — the former candidate for Melbourne lord mayor. Start asking questions about the preselection rules and the result and see how credible the numbers sound. The results show Ellen is either a miracle campaigner or something else is going on. Senior party insiders are furious.”
We’ve asked around, and yes, Sandell beat Parkes by a thumping 48 votes to 14 in the postal ballot. The Labor-held state seat of Melbourne is tricky but winnable for the Greens, after Adam Bandt held on to the federal seat in the same area. Sandell is a young face and rising star; she used to head up the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and has allies in Simon Sheikh and Milne. Parkes is an accounting lecturer who ran for the Greens for lord mayor of Melbourne.
So where there any dirty tricks in the Sandell v Parkes race?
Tony Kelly, co-convenor of the Victorian Greens, told Crikey: “We certainly refute that there’s been impropriety in this preselection process.” Re: the branch-stacking claim, Kelly said the Melbourne branch’s membership had risen by 27 since the federal election, consistent with other branches in the inner city (and that does seem roughly correct on the numbers Kelly gave us). There are about 180 members in Melbourne branch now. Kelly said the Greens took any allegations of impropriety seriously and asked us to pass on that anyone with concerns should raise them formally.
A spokesman for Bandt told us the allegation of branch-stacking was “untrue”. Bandt was effusive in a media release on the result, saying: “Ellen Sandell is a fantastic candidate who will be a strong a voice for Melbourne.”
Parkes told us: “I can confirm that I was a candidate for this preselection, and that I was not the winning candidate.” She didn’t comment further.
The Liberals hold government in Victoria by a wafer-thin margin. Premier Denis Napthine has to rely on the vote of eccentric independent Geoff Shaw to govern, and expensive plans for a new under-Melbourne highway (the East West Link) have pissed people off. Labor and the Greens will be fighting it out in Melbourne and some other inner-city seats at the state election.
Boys’ club, as usual. Tony Abbott prefers the company of blokes — his cabinet is 95% male — but sounds like he might have taken it a bit too far at the recent COAG talkfest. This from “the filly’s mouth”:
“Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings and ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher were not impressed when the premiers and chief ministers were welcomed to the start of the COAG meeting as ‘brothers’ by Tony Abbott. After their protesting, Abbott later referred to the group as ‘siblings’.”
Gee — that’s a way to appeal to female voters. And according to the ABS, there are more female voters than male. Just trying to help, Tony.
Laid-back Xmas for arts staff. We’ve been bringing you tales of some of the best / worst work Christmas parties. This is what the Australia Council (the federal government’s arts funding and advisory body) got up to:
“In the midst of cutbacks and severity the Australia Council CEO struck a modest but upbeat note by suggesting everyone bring a plate and share lunch in the park across the street. Happy Christmas and or summer to those workers supporting Australian artists when they sit under a tree for lunch.”
Happy Christmas indeed — sounds delightful. Email us with the goss about your work’s party.
‘Gay love story’. A concerned reader pointed us to this Pozible campaign, which some might think raises questions about the immigration system. Ali, born in Pakistan, says he will be deported from Australia in January because he’s been denied the right to stay with his partner, Matt — authorities apparently ruled “[we] do not consider that you are in a long-standing relationship”. Ali says they’ve been together for almost four years.
The couple used Pozible to mount a “A Gay Love Story” campaign to raise $2594 for a legal challenge to the deportation, set for January 8. They’ve already exceeded that — the tally stands at $3794. We’re trying to get in touch with Ali and Matt (email us here) to keep you posted on what happens.
Crikey gets trolled. Ms Tips is delighted at being trolled by preference whisperer Glenn Druery, one of the nominees in our 2013 Arsehat of the Year award (our readers decide the winner via a popular vote). The top image is from our Facebook page, the bottom from Twitter.
The notion of Druery stitching up a preference deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is arresting. But we’ve got bad news for Druery. The vote is first-past-the-post … so only a true arsehat can win it. We’ll bring you the results in tomorrow’s Crikey (voting has closed) — will Druery need that speech?