Greens and Labor heavyweights line up behind Greenwich
In perhaps a further ploy conducted by Labor’s Sussex Street headquarters to ensure a Liberal defeat after deciding not to contest the Sydney by-election, former NSW Premier and recently retired Labor MP Kristina Keneally has today publicly thrown her support behind Independent candidate Alex Greenwich.
Keneally’s words of backing come as federal Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was forced to hose down her public support over Twitter for the former Australian Marriage Equality national convener after coming under fire from enraged local Greens members.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Keneally said though she remained a loyal Labor supporter it was important for the seat to stay out of Liberal hands.
“It’s a pragmatic decision,” she said. “What Barry O’Farrell and the Liberals would like to see is the Greens, Labor and independent split the vote and therefore the Liberals can sneak in up through the middle.
“Alex represents the best opportunity to make sure there is another voice in that Parliament arguing against the massive cuts we have seen already in education and in health.”
Greenwich welcomed the support from Keneally, whom he has got to know well over the past few years through his campaigning for marriage equality.
“The only thing Barry O’Farrell has done for Sydney recently is take away our vote, and force a by-election in the hope he will insert a silenced Liberal backbenchers in the seat,” Greenwich added.
The Greens are also contesting the seat but following poor polling for the party at the recent local government elections most election analysts believe Liberal Party candidate Shayne Mallard will pose the biggest threat to the seat no longer remaining independent.
Proving himself to be a popular first-time politician, Greenwich was caught in the crossfire of an internal Greens slanging match after Hanson-Young last Thursday sent off a tweet in support.
“Fabulous news! wonderful to see @AlexGreenwich putting his hand up for the people of Sydney. A great community advocate and good friend,” she tweeted.
A day later, De Brierley Newtown – who contested the 2011 election as a Greens candidate for the seat – fired off an email to Greens head office questioning the motives of the South Australian senator.
“Is SHY (Sarah Hanson-Young) this stupid or is this calculated?” Newton wrote.
“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.
Hanson today clarified she still wanted Greens candidate Chris Harris to win the seat.
“I was just commenting on what a great advocate Alex Greenwich has been for marriage equality,” she said.
Proving himself to be adept at the political game, Greenwich was non-plussed about the controversies surrounding the other parties and said he was only committed to emulating his “political hero” Clover Moore to ensure the seat remained independent.
“Even a former Labor Party Premier understands the effectiveness an independent member of Parliament can have in being a strong voice for the community, if elected I will be that voice,” he said.
Photo: Independent candidate Alex Greenwich with former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally