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New South Wales

Sep 21, 2012

Greens crack-up in Sydney as SHY backs rival candidate

Was Sarah Hanson-Young backing a rival candidate to the Greens for the upcoming Sydney by election race? She says she was just supporting a friend but party hacks aren't happy.


A spat has broken out inside the NSW Greens after Senator Sarah Hanson-Young endorsed a rival candidate for the imminent byelection for the lower house seat of Sydney.

Last night, Hanson-Young took to Twitter to endorse gay marriage lobbyist Alex Greenwich as Clover Moore’s successor for the prestigious bearpit possie.

Problematically, the Greens have already formally endorsed a candidate, former Sydney City councillor Chris Harris, who decided not to contest the recent council poll to focus on the byelection triggered by Barry O’Farrell’s “Get Clover” laws. Harris is close to Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon’s so-called “eastern bloc” faction, which is rarely on friendly terms with Hanson-Young.

On the Greens’ Sydney electoral campaign committee mailing list late this morning, De Brierley Newton — who replaced Harris on the council ticket but failed to get elected after the Greens’ vote slumped — leapt into print to ask how Hanson-Young could be “this stupid or this calculated”.

“Perhaps a call to her office explaining that if Sydney goes pear-shaped it will impact on the Federal election result for The Greens and our lead Senate candidate. Might help,” she said.

From: De Brierley Newton
Subject: Re: [SydECC] Sarah Hanson Young endorses Alex Greenwich
Date: 21 September 2012 11:54:52 AM AEST
To: Matt Robertson, Greens Federal election Campaign committee

Hi Matt

Is SHY this stupid or is this calculated?

Perhaps a call to her office explaining that if Sydney goes pear-shaped it will impact on the Federal election result for The Greens and our lead Senate candidate.

Might help.

Cheers de

Others have been just as harsh as Newton, who ran in Sydney at the 2011 state election. Earlier, former Wentworth candidate and Woollhara council hopeful Matt Robertson told Harris to “phone her office, explain the delicate nature of the situation, and ask her to REMOVE the tweet. I will email her office and explain that her tweet is a foolish move … the tweet has already been re-tweeted, and could be used against us, or picked up by the media to demonstrate we’re split.”

But Hanson-Young appears to have ignored the advice — as Crikey hit deadline, the tweet was in cyberspace and was still being retweeted. The Senator’s office has been contacted for comment and we will add the response when we receive it.

UPDATE: Sarah Hanson-Young says “of course” she’ll be supporting the Greens: “Of course I want the Greens to win. I was just commenting on what a great advocate Alex Greenwich has been for marriage equality. The Greens always work with progressive groups and people to achieve positive outcomes for the community.”


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18 thoughts on “Greens crack-up in Sydney as SHY backs rival candidate

  1. Mike Smith

    Its out there, any damage that can be done, has been, have you never heard of caching? Don’t try and cover things up, that looks really bad.

  2. Honest Johnny

    I think Sarah’s enthusiam for her good friend may have caused her to overlook the senstivities in the NSW Greens since the tough recent local Government elections. There are many good “community advocate” so-called ‘independents’ across the state, but they do tend to soak up a large chunk of the Green vote, and also take the Greens for granted. Also, I’m not sure what the situation is like in SA where SHY hails from, but where there has been a popular ‘independent’ local member or candidate, such as Sydney or Manly, the Green vote has tended to underperform compared to neighbouring areas. That’s why, regardless of the personal friendships involved, a prominent Green, such as a Senator, should never publicly endorse an ‘independent’ candidate where a Green candidate is also standing.

  3. klewso

    So she’s a real “politician”?
    That cheap stunt of taking her baby into the house (because she could, because she’s a politician) was enough for me.
    There’s a little bit too much nitroglycerine about her.

  4. Karletta Abianac

    Oh please, nothing wrong in my eyes in saying something nice to a fellow politician. I’d rather that than the petty bagging-out that usually goes on.

  5. John Newton

    I would have thought that Senator Hanson-Young might have checked the local political landscape before leaping in with an endorsement

  6. Frank Campbell

    Neither faction of the Greens seem much interested in the environment. This reflects their class and regional limitations. Climate millenarianism is no subsititute for environmentalism- in fact subverts it. And the pressing concerns of extremely low postcodes differ markedly from those beyond the GPOs.

    I’ve been saying constantly for three years on this site that the Greens are doomed to remain stuck where they are on 10% or so- at best. Remember it’s not so long since (a) progressives were sure the Libs were about to split into impotence, followed a year later by (b) certainty that the degenerate ALP would be replaced by the Greens as the only party with the moral coherence to oppose the hard Right.

    And now? The Greens were abruptly abandoned by their talismanic leader. Brown looked old and tired. I think he knew he’d blown it. History won’t be kind to Bob: the leader who fell for climate catastrophism, seeing it as the short-cut to green Nirvana. The genuine environmental hero who led his devoted flock into the wilderness and left them to be slaughtered. They know the game is up, and (leaderless) they’re turning on each other.

  7. klewso

    “Two of three little pigs”, ideas above their station – too many not prepared to build, they want to “move in now”.

    Until they change that fringe mentality mind-set they’ll remain a boutique/niche market on “≤15%” – but that’s still 1:6-9 of us that vote for them. If we had a more proportionally representative voting system we’d have more of them in our federal house of legislation, instead of just in the more reflective Senate.

  8. Steve777

    Frank – a 68 year old man retired after 30 years in various leadership positions in the Green movement, 16 years in the Senate and 7 as Federal Greens leader. He retired mid term to give a new leader time to settle in and get the team ready for the next election. That is not ‘abandoning’ the Greens. And it was certainly not because he decided that he was wrong on Climate Change.

  9. Frank Campbell

    I agree, Steve777, Brown is still a Believer, years away from recanting climate catastrophism. Eventually he will, like James Lovelock (who has been airbrushed from existence on Crikey and similar sites since March this year).

    But Brown did finally comprehend the political cul-de-sac into which he led the Greens. Perhaps he briefly believed his own bluster about the Greens eventually replacing the ALP, but that seemed to me to be mere political piety. (Followers less astute than Brown had visions of a rapid apotheosis of the Greens). The failure of the Greens in Higgins and Bradfield- after much hubristic chestthumping- was probably the turning point.

    As for giving the new leader time to consolidate, this begs the question of why an unchallenged icon like Brown, who knew full well that the Greens were beset with competing ambitions and factions, would depart before a crucial election which could come at any time. He must have known Milne could not match his popularity, and that at best the Greens would take a hit at the next election. In effect, Brown has admitted that extra-parliamentary environmental activism is better than a fruitless slog in Canberra. As I said, Bob looked old and tired when he checked out, and now is tanned and revivified.

  10. Mike Smith

    @Frank: apotheosis? Apoptosis is, I fear, more likely, given this article.

  11. Hamis Hill

    The Four International Greens principles can be simply presented as; No planet without peace, no peace without justice and no justice without democracy.
    Sooner or later the principle of grass-roots paricipatory democracy will be sufficiently enabled by technology(The NBN?) to replace representative democracy, single -issue Senate parties and glorious leaders.
    Activists of all sorts, and not just The Greens, will be involved.
    But to succeed the principles will have to be applied together and not in isolation.(As is done now in most party factions)
    The vast success of The NSW Greens part of the national federation of parties, at the local government level, can be attributed to their early adoption (1984) of the four principles, especially paricipatory democracy.
    There is no room for Frank’s party hijackers in this future scenario.

  12. Peter Ormonde

    I’m starting to think that Ms Hanson-Young needs a holiday. I am concerned when Senators get emotional. I’m not talking about NP “emotional” after an all too good a meal in the Parliamentary Dining Room, I’m talking about getting personally involved in an issue to the point of trembling bottom lips and outbursts on national TV.

    It’s a long tedious and tense grind in the Senate. I’m not kidding – the hours are obscene, the detail is crushing and the frustration – of being one step removed from the real action and decisions – is palpable. It grinds normal people into a fine powder over time if they take it too seriously.

    But politicians must be more than mere people – or perhaps less, I’ve never been sure. But they must exercise constant judgement and self-discipline if they are to be effective, if they are to last the distance.

    And Ms Hanson-Young’s enthusiasm for slogans, for the emotive and the visceral is very wearing – running at 110% commitment and passion…wearing on her and wearing on us actually. It makes one’s judgement go wonky, reduces the effectiveness of ones comments and puts oneself and one’s “feelings” above the national interest and that of your colleagues.

    Time for a break Ms Hanson-Young.

  13. Hamis Hill

    The Four International Greens Principles can be simply presented as: No planet without peace,no peace without justice and no justice without democracy.
    Sooner or later the principle of grass roots participatory democracy will be sufficiently enabled by technology (The NBN?)to replace representative democracy, single-issue Senate parties and “glorious” leaders.
    Activists of all sorts and not just The Greens will be involved.
    But, as in the development of the European Greens in the late sixties and early seventies, the “activists” will have to work together.
    Exactly as do the once separate and now combined political movements that are “The Greens”; plural, and not just about the environment.
    Not alone, as is done now by most party factions.
    The vast success at the local government level of the NSW Greens can be attributed to their early adoption (1984) of the four principles, especially participatory democracy.
    There is little room for Frank’s party hijackers in this future scenario.

  14. John Bennetts

    Nothing said about that worn-out old warhorse, Lee Rhiannon?

    If SBY followed that person’s crazy line, which was frozen in her socialist 1960’s and has never since been updated, would be insane – as are the NSW Greens for sending her to the Senate in the first place.

    Of course the Greens in NSW are split – it is impossible for rational, thinking people to discuss anything with her, let alone follow her. Any hope that the NSW Greens had of a bright future was dashed when they selected a representative of such calibre, essentially a throwback from 50 years ago.

    So, SBY has called this one absolutely correctly. The tweet was no accident.

  15. Honest Johnny

    John, I’ve read your comments about Lee before. Boy she must have really broken your heart. 13 years ago I was part of a protest to save some urban bushland about to be destroyed by developers. Many politicians expressed their support but when the bulldozers and the police came it was only Lee Rhiannon who was there with us and carted away in a paddy wagon. The bushland sadly is gone but Lee’s courage and environmental credentials will never be forgotten by those who were there. Whatever happened 50 years ago John, can you get over it?

  16. Hamis Hill

    And Lee is the best chairperson I’ve ever encountered; something essential for true grassroots democracy.
    But isn’t there a fraction to much fiction in all this beat up about friction between factions?
    The fact remains that if you do not support the four International Green Principles and work them together then you can, indeed, be “green” but you will not be a member of The Greens. There’s a reason the noun is plural.
    Oh, and yes, as has been said repeatedly for decades now: “They do things differently in The Greens”.
    There is more than a bit of fakery in applying “old” party factionalism to the new politics represented by “The Greens”. But if you’re just trying to fool the voters why not give it a burl? Old politics in action?

  17. John Bennetts

    Fair enough comment on a personal level, HJ.

    How does a lengthy arrest record translate into parliamentary effectiveness? It’s difficult to argue effectively from inside a paddy wagon. Is this lady’s history not indicative of a tendency to adopt flawed strategies?

    Perhaps it’s the fight that is important and not the victory… and no, I am not saying that the end justifies the means, just that unachievable goals are not relevant in a parliament. What has this Senator ever achieved, apart from making up the numbers?

  18. Edward James

    Honest Johnny. Lee Rhiannon may have done what was needed from time to time to impress some people on some occasions, but she has no respect from me, in regard to her email to me about the changes which may happen when GREENS were represented on Gosford City Council! where politicians are involved talk is cheap! Edward James


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