Greens face up to challenges after poor polling
The NSW Greens admit they have challenges to face following local government elections across the state over the weekend which saw voter support for the progressive party diminish quite significantly.
Though the re-election of Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, dominated the headlines it was the Liberal Party which perhaps was left feeling the most pleased with its performance following consistent support for many of its candidates contesting the elections.
The Liberals even managed to surprise NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell by winning their first seat on Marrickville Council by taking out the bohemian seat of Newtown.
Labor analysts are said to be happy with the minor gains the party made and are confident of rebuilding the ALP’s brand following the rout in the last state election in 2010.
The Greens though will be left with some soul searching after recording poor results in the City of Sydney, Ashfield, Randwick and Waverley elections coupled with a drastic loss of support in the party’s Sydney heartland of Marrickville and Leichhardt as well as in Byron Bay on the state’s north.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said the party would take clear lessons away from the results.
“We need to acknowledge that in local councils across the state there were voters who chose us in 2008 but who moved away in 2012,” he said.
“This was a challenging election to be running progressive messages of protecting the environment and fighting overdevelopment. The electorate’s mood was clearly conservative.”
In response to the results, one unnamed Labor strategist told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The Greens copped a big hit in areas where they make decisions”.
In Leichhardt, where The Greens remained the highest polling party with over 35 per cent of votes, the party saw an 11 per cent swing against it. Marrickville saw Labor restore its position as best polling party on the council after The Greens received a seven per cent swing against the part.
In Ashfield, The Greens saw their vote reduced to 15 per cent following an almost eight per cent swing since last election while the party lost one of its two seats on the City of Sydney after a seven per cent swing against.
In Byron Bay, Greens candidate Simon Richardson was installed mayor but not after seeing a 10.3 per cent reduction of votes from the previous election while preferences will now determine if pro-business candidates win control of the council.
Shoebridge said the election showed no party could take their support for granted.
“We have to get out there and connect with the community to earn every vote.
“Ultimately voters respect parties who stick to their principles and their policies,” he said.
“Over the coming months the Greens will be talking with the community, raising fresh ideas and connecting with the electorate to remain a party with positive, appealing and progressive politics.”
Photo: NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge with colleague Cate Faehrmann