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New South Wales

Mar 15, 2011

Liberal candidate backs Greens push-poll claims

A Greens candidate expected to win a lower house seat at the NSW election claims she's the victim of a deceptive and potentially illegal push-polling campaign aimed at smearing her reputation.

The Liberal candidate for Marrickville has backed Greens’ claims that they have been the victim of a manipulative and potentially illegal push-polling campaign in the marginal seat.

As Crikey first revealed online yesterday, voters in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner-west say they were tricked into participating in a phone poll quizzing them about Marrickville Council’s controversial decision to boycott Israeli goods and services. Market researchers claimed they were ringing on behalf of Marrickville Council, but the council hasn’t commissioned any such survey.

Council is conducting its own investigation into the origins of the survey, but may also ask Federal Police to examine whether the pollsters breached the federal Telecommunications Act.

The Greens candidate for Marrickville is the local mayor and bookies’ favourite Fiona Byrne. Last December, the Greens and Labor-dominated council voted 10-2 to cut links with organisations that support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. NSW Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt, the current MP for Marrickville, opposes the boycott — as does her husband Anthony Albanese, who represents the area at a federal level.

Byrne said: “This is absolutely and obviously push polling, but misrepresenting itself. I think that misrepresentation is quite insidious. It’s old-style political tactics and I think people are tired of it.”

Byrne says she first heard about the survey on Friday.

“What I heard was that somebody was doing a survey on behalf of Marrickville City Council. That’s how they were representing themselves. Once they started asking questions, they started talking about me,  not about council. That’s where people started getting quite concerned and confused and started asking ‘where are you from?’; ‘who are you representing?'”

Liberal candidate Rosana Tyler, who opposes Marrickville Council’s boycott, says members of her campaign team had received the call.

“The caller gave their name but not the organisation. They just said they were ringing from a Melbourne-based company. They did say they were ringing on behalf of Marrickville Council. The questions did seem to be manipulative.”

Tyler says the boycott issue is turning “ordinary” voters against the Greens: “There is consternation in Marrickville that this council has just lost the plot.”

Greens spokesman Mark Riboldi says he believes two “push polls” canvassing the boycott issue have been running in the area. In the first, callers identify themselves as employees of polling firm Australian Fieldwork Solutions. He says this poll is “not illegal, but definitely dirty”. In the second, callers claim to be ringing on behalf of Marrickville Council.

St Peters resident Mel McCabe told Crikey she participated in the fake Marrickville Council survey last Friday evening.

“It’s made me angry,” she said. “I’m not aligned with anyone, but I’m really angry that I gave personal insights about my views to give fodder for someone to throw at Fiona. It didn’t sit well.”

She says she was asked whether she would be more or less likely to vote for Byrne given the mayor’s support for the boycott. McCabe, who describes herself as “apolitical”, knows Byrne personally as their children both attend the same school.

“As far as any leanings towards Fiona’s politics, it’s not about that,” she said. “It’s that my personal time and information were used to slur her and that’s not correct.”

Petersham retiree Gavin Smith, a well-known local environmentalist, told Crikey he received a call last Tuesday purportedly on behalf of Marrickville City Council. He said the caller asked whether councils should be involved in foreign affairs.

Byrne says she’s concerned the council’s database of Marrickville residents willing to provide feedback on local issues has been breached.

Tebbutt says she is unaware who was behind the survey.

A Galaxy poll released last week had Byrne winning 44% of the Marrickville primary vote against Tebbutt’s 33%.

This is not the first allegation of push polling to emerge in the campaign. Last month the Liberal Party accused the ALP of dirty tricks for asking Blacktown voters how they would feel about the Liberals cutting 25,000 public sector jobs, outsourcing call centre services to India and being “anti-teachers”.

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35 comments

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35 thoughts on “Liberal candidate backs Greens push-poll claims

  1. Astro

    Guess who the Greens are preferencing in NSW Upper House

    1. Labor

    2. Fred Nile / Christian Democrats

    3. Socialist Alliance

    Answer: Socialist Alliance – scary.

  2. AR

    When Tebbutt loses, let’s hope that hubbie decides that it’s time to spend more time with his wallet.
    His sinecure Grayndler, previously held by Leaping Leo, Macleay, has gone to preferences for the last three Federal elections.
    A seat that has been Labor since Federation.
    Astro – distribute your own preferences, only need to be able to accurately count to fifteen.

  3. Joanna

    Not quite accurate AR. The boundaries have shifted. Much of the current Grayndler lies in the old seat of Sydney which Peter Baldwin wrestled from the ossified right.

    Neither Tebbut nor Albanese were involved in the long hard slog that saw these branches move from ALP machine right (supported by Tom Domican) to activist left. However once they took control, the Tebbutt/Albanese double act happily presided over the rapid decline of ALP membership in their area. Neither could be described as an involved local member.

    Curiously enough some of those people who have joined/supported the Greens are former ALP members/supporters who have felt disenfranchised by the fiefdom.

    I think Tebbutt(and Albanese) are about to discover the true meaning of “you reap what you sow”.

  4. Liz45

    I support what Marrickville Council has done – taken a stand against the Israel’s invasion, occupation and terrorising of the Palestinian people. If I knew what I could boycott, I’d do it too!

    I also support Socialist Alliance! I believe that another way is possible and preferable to what empire building, capitalism regardless of who suffers and dies is offering now – all acclaimed as our ‘way of life’? Not mine!

    Japan is just another manifestation of it – they’ve suffered twice over now!

    The ALP lost my primary vote in 1984 when Bob Hawke gave us the ‘middle finger’ over the third uranium mine – against ALP policy! So, I gave him one back and said, ‘you’ve lost me’? OK to work your butt off prior to and on polling day, but the rest of the time they ?????

    Now our uranium is going to kill innocent Japanese people! Good one! Not to mention the other stuff we sold them that contains plutonium – special reactor – forget the name!
    I’d never vote for the Libs either! Or Fred Nile or the shooters party or Pauline whatshername!

  5. Mark Riboldi

    @Astro – that’s completely untrue. Where are your facts for such a statement?

    The Greens in Marrickville are recommending people vote 1 the Greens, and then make up their own minds if people want to allocate further preferences.

  6. Carlos

    Tyler is correct in saying many “ordinary voters” in Marrickville have been turned off the Greens due to their actions at council, Ive voted green at the last few elections, at all levels of govt including my local council in Marrickville. Now the ultimate in irony in the context of this election is that Ill be voting for Labor and preferencing liberal as a protest vote against the Greens.
    Any one who attended the Marrickville Council meeting held on Tuesday night would have witnessed what a farce this Council led by Mayor Fiona Byrne has been reduced too, where not for the first time a local council meeting can be hijacked for over an hour by discussion of Israel is an embarrassment. We had jeering idealoges applauding a nutty Catholic priest lecturing the local Jewish population about how their current lack of support for the BDS was comparable to the lack of international action which lead to the Holocaust!! Councillors attacking each others credibility, Two local Israeli women got up and told of there own sense of alienation within their community. Supporters of the BDS including a Palestinian man spoke of the atrocities committed by Israel and it status as a rouge Nation that one imagines must make China or North Korea seem like Switzerland. They also spoke of how the BDS movement somehow aims to economically attack and discredit Israel but is not out to harm Israel. The whacky Catholic priest even dramatically pronounced that the world will remember that the road to Justice and Peace began here in Marrickville!!??!!. Missing in all discussion was any mention of Hamas or suicide bombings in nightclubs and buses or rocket and sniper attacks on Israeli residential areas, also no mention of Hezbollah’s recent call for martyrs to hurl themselves at Israel to bring about its total demise, I suppose that just complicates the BDS narrative.
    The meeting was a disgrace with the council unable and unwilling to even enforce its own boycott of sporting exchange, allowing an Israeli AFL team to use Marrickville Town Hall.
    Bored with local issues the Greens have decided to use their position on council to introduce a divisive nasty policy that has nothing to do with building peace , understanding or diversity and everything to do with promoting mistrust and the demonisation of Israel and Jews.
    read the attached green left weekly article documenting the first Australian BDS conference. http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/45978

    I don’t care about the state election I just want this hateful policy out of my neighbourhood and am shocked that it was introduced by the Greens.

  7. Astro

    @ Mark Riboldi

    Mark, you are completely incorrect.

    The Greens are preferecing Socialist Party in Legislative Assembly.

    Take a look at Australian Electoral Website (second preferences). I have cut and pasted it for your ease of reference. Apologise for the formatting, the column 1 is the part and next to that who they preference.

    A LIBERAL/NATIONALS F CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY
    B NO PARKING METERS PARTY M BUILDING AUSTRALIA
    C JOHN HATTON GROUP E SAVE OUR STATE
    D OUTDOOR RECREATION PARTY O THE FISHING PARTY
    E SAVE OUR STATE C JOHN HATTON GROUP
    F CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY G FAMILY FIRST
    G FAMILY FIRST A LIBERAL/NATIONALS
    H LABOR/COUNTRY LABOR I THE GREENS
    I THE GREENS K SOCIALIST ALLIANCE
    J PAULINE HANSON F CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY
    K SOCIALIST ALLIANCE I THE GREENS
    L AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS C JOHN HATTON GROUP
    M BUILDING AUSTRALIA B NO PARKING METERS PARTY
    N RESTORE WORKERS RIGHTS PARTY L AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS
    O THE FISHING PARTY A LIBERAL/NATIONALS
    P SHOOTERS & FISHERS F CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY

  8. Astro

    Australian Electoral Commission Weblink proving Greens are preferncing Socialist party

    http://www.votensw.info/candidates_and_parties/second_preference_group

  9. Mark Riboldi

    @Astro. You don’t seem to understand how the electoral system works.

    The Legislative Assembly is the Lower House. All of those parties you list are not even running in every seat. There are 7 candidates in Marrickville besides the Greens. The Greens are not recommending preferencing any of them.

  10. Astro

    @ Mark Riboldi

    I said the GREENS are preferencing the SOCIALIST PARTY in the UPPER house.

    Should have said legislative council not assembly

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