On membership wrangles within the Greens

Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon writes: Re. "Clowns to the left, jokers to the right: Greens, Libs wrestle with party memberships" (Monday)

Bernard Keane's analysis (Crikey, 3 July 2017) of the Greens NSW voting in parliament and the level of our electoral success is off the mark. The use of Labor's "faceless men" term is a derogatory argument often used by some MPs and their supporters to limit member involvement and party democracy so that the MPs get to vote however they want. Member involvement in decisions about how to vote does not mean there can't be negotiations about amendments to legislation. The Greens NSW gives its MPs a lot of flexibility in parliament. While Greens NSW MPs are required to vote according to policy it is extremely rare for the party to make a formal decision to bind an MPs vote on a bill.

The assertion that the Greens NSW underperforms electorally is not true. The demographics for the Greens are more favourable in Victoria. NSW has many more non-coastal, rural federal electorates and a large number of seats in Western Sydney where the Greens vote has never been strong, although it is slowly improving. That brings down the state wide vote for the Greens. Nevertheless the Greens polled 10.3% in the last NSW state election, which compares favourably to other state Greens parties. The Greens NSW has some strong areas of support and is the only state Greens party to win three single member state electorates in the one election in 2015. It currently has nine MPs just behind Victoria with 10 who have the most MPs for the Greens.