Big wins for Greens in Council elections

Greens NSW achieved a huge boost in Local Government representation with three Mayors and 24 councillors elected from the 29 districts that were contested in the September 2016 elections.  

Greens Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge congratulated the candidates and local groups that worked so tirelessly so soon after the Federal election.

Only half the councils in NSW were contested in the September 10 election, with others deferred to 2017 pending forced amalgamations.  No election was held in the Canada Bay Council area pending a decision by the Land & Environment Court in relation to an appeal lodged by the Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield councils against the State government decision to amalgamate the three councils.

Net increase of 11 Council representatives

The Greens went into the elections with 16 incumbents but Greens representation increased to 27 councillors.

“It’s clear the Greens NSW has had tremendous success in these elections,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Mayor of Byron Bay, Simon Richardson was rewarded for his dedication to the local community with an almost 12% swing and he will be joined by three other Greens on council, giving the party 4 out of 10 votes.

In Bellingen, sitting Councillor Dominic King came first on primaries and was elected Mayor and Greens councillors were doubled.  While in Shoalhaven, Amanda Findley was elected Mayor over former Liberal federal MP, Joanna Gash.

Amanda said the results reflect community support for our core values. “As Greens we stood side by side with residents and environmentalists to protect our beautiful coast, our homes and the environment from the pressures of overdevelopment. This vote reflects our longstanding commitment to the local community.”

First-time breakthroughs

The Greens also broke through for the first time in a number of councils. Dr Amanda Cohn and the Albury Greens backed up their strong effort at the federal election and Amanda was elected as the first Green to Albury Council.

One of our newest local groups, New England–Glen Innes now has Carol Sparkes elected to Glen Innes Severn Council. Dr Greg Clancy was elected to Clarence Valley and Leah Ferrara elected to Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

We had narrow misses in Kyogle and Ballina (both less than 80 votes) and Saan Ecker missed out by just 13 votes in Yass Valley.

Growing vote in Western Sydney

Mr Shoebridge was buoyed by the growth of our vote in Western Sydney, where we safely retained a councillor on Hawkesbury Council and gained councillors in Campbelltown and the Blue Mountains.

In the City of Sydney, Mr Shoebridge said the Greens were squeezed between Clover Moore and the gerrymandered business vote. “We congratulate Clover Moore on retaining the Mayoralty and staring down the Baird Government’s crooked electoral system.

“Across the state the Greens have been standing up for local government in the face of the Baird government’s attacks and local residents respect our consistent voice for grassroots democracy.”

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2016 Election day wrap-up

lachlan at burwood

Lachlan at Burwood Girls – a smiling face in a sea of blue

election day

Luke Foley and Craig Laundy try to recruit a new member

newington election day

Mauricio and Chris at Newington

chalmers st

On the job at Chalmers Street PS

mortlake queue

Long queues at Mortlake PS were the order of the day

As of 15 July 2016
Eight days after the big day, Bill Shorten conceded defeat and Malcolm Turnbull was confirmed as continuing in his role as Prime Minister, having reached the necessary 76 seat majority to form government, and with support from three independents to govern. 

This election has been remarkable in a number of aspects: it was the first double dissolution of Parliament since 1987 and it was one of the longest election campaigns on record, officially running for nearly 8 weeks after its announcement on 9 May 2016. This election has also seen cliff-hanging results in at least 5 seats which has meant that even after 10 days, the final seat count of the election is not yet final and relies on the counting of absentee and postal votes.

It did not bring Mr Turnbull the glorious victory that he might have hoped and the issue that triggered the DD, the establishment of the Australian Building & Construction Commission, barely got a mention by either of the big parties in the campaign.

Although nationally there was a swing towards the Greens of 1.3% with a first preference vote of 9.98%, we did not clinch our most likely inner-city seats such as Grayndler in Sydney and Batman in Melbourne.

Greens candidate Alex Bhathal in Batman received a 9.6% swing but was outbid at the last moment by Labor. In Grayndler, Labor candidate Antony Albanese preferenced the Liberals ahead of Greens candidate Jim Casey, despite his false claims that the Greens would preference the Liberals, apparently calculated to destabilise voter confidence in the Greens.

In Reid, sitting member Craig Laundy recorded a 0.9% loss in primary votes but retained a comfortable 4.7% majority including preferences, while Labor candidate, Angelo Tsirekas, the former Canada Bay Council mayor, also recorded a slight swing against him. Greens candidate, Alice Mantel increased the Greens first preference vote to 7.9% and recorded a 0.9% increase. The Christian Democrat Party and Family First recorded 6.2% of the overall vote, representing a 4.8% increase in the religious vote.

The full outcome of Senate voting is not yet known but Lee Rhiannon has been returned as Greens Senator for NSW and the Greens have certainly lost one of two senators in South Australia, with other Greens senators still at risk in Western Australia and Tasmania. It can also be expected that the representation of smaller parties such as the Xenophon party and Pauline Hanson’s party can expect to increase their share of seats and cause on-going disruption to an over-confident Coalition government.

Greens leader Richard di Natale commented in his National Press Club speech that “there have been some policy differences at the margins but overall there’s been a lack of courage, imagination and vision” in the election campaign. In that speech, Richard outlined key Greens policies and emphasised that we are in politics for the long haul. He concluded his speech saying,

Elections are about making choices. The choices we make reflect our values and aspirations. For those who choose for their precious places to be protected, for a smart economy based on education and innovation, for women to be safe to thrive and succeed in their chosen careers, for younger people to get a fair go in the housing market, for children and future generations, for a just settlement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, for poverty alleviated not entrenched in our society, for equal access to first class education, health and social services, and for a vibrant, prosperous and creative Australia — your choice is the Greens.

Thank you to all the members and supporters who contributed their time and energy to our campaign – we could not do it without you.
Alice Mantel

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Local council merger stalls after legal challenge

localcouncils

Local council merger stalls after legal challenge

The forced merger between Strathfield, Burwood and Canada Bay councils has been halted in the New South Wales Land and Environment Court as a result of a court challenge by Strathfield council.

The  Court determined that there were legal flaws in the report from the State Government appointed delegate who recommended merging the councils.

A number of other councils including Mosman, Hunters Hill and North Sydney also have challenged the Government’s proposed amalgamations and were buoyed by the result of this challenge.

On 12 May 2016 the State Government created 19 new councils under its forced amalgamation program  which reducing 152 councils to 112 with a delay in respect of the 9 councils that have commenced legal action.

The mergers have resulted in the sacking of hundreds of councillors and the appointment of administrators to administer councils until the next council elections which have been postponed until September 2017.

The first meeting of the new Inner West Council which was the result of the merged Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield councils was marked by a strong resident protest.

Several councils escaped being merged, notably the proposed amalgamation between Walcha and Tamworth council, which was strongly opposed by the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Other mergers which will not be proceeding include the Hills and Hawkesbury Shire and Kiama and Shoalhaven councils.

 

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Dr John Kaye MLC – a champion of public education

“With John’s death the Greens NSW and the NSW Parliament have lost an MP of enormous principle, energy and commitment. His colleagues have also lost a dear friend.

“John was a tireless champion of public education, leading the national debate on education funding with an unflagging commitment to TAFE and public schools.

“Public schools and TAFE colleges in this State are stronger, better resourced and more prominent in the national debate due to the work of Dr Kaye.

“A lifelong commitment to public endeavour and social justice saw John campaign across the state in opposition to the privatisation of the state’s electricity sector.

“The Greens NSW will continue to benefit from John’s work in establishing a clear path to NSW becoming the first state with 100% renewable electricity.

“John has always taken to heart his role as a Greens MP for the whole of NSW.

“While John’s parliamentary work is deeply memorable, his community organising was extraordinary.

“Preventing the disastrous Tillegra Dam in the Hunter valley was a personal highlight for John. He attributed this win to his ability to work with a spirited and united local community.

“In the Illawarra John rightly took pride in developing, together with unions and workers, the Greens’ Steel Procurement policy. John’s Steel Industry Protection Bill is still before the NSW parliament.

“John passed away after a struggle with an aggressive cancer which developed in recent months. He died peacefully in his home surrounded by friends and family.

“Our thoughts today are with John’s partner Lynne, his sister and brothers Dina, Andrew and Stephen and their families,” Mr Shoebridge said.

A private service will be held this week at Waverley Cemetery. Details of a public celebration of John’s life will be announced shortly

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Join us to Clean Up Rhodes and the Parramatta River on March 6

Rhodes Foreshore Park – C

Meet the Greens candidate for Reid, Alice Mantel and help clean up this site.  

There will be a free BBQ from 10 am – 12.30 pm for all volunteers at Council’s clean-up sites:

  • Rodd Park, Rodd Point with mayor Angelo Tsirekas
  • Rhodes Foreshore Park, Rhodes with the Resource Recovery team

Let’s make it the biggest and best ever! Join an existing site or register your own.

 

Site Address

Rhodes Foreshore Park
Rhodes
NSW 2138

Meeting Point: Rhodes Foreshore Park, Shoreline Drive (near Mary Street), Rhodes

Date: March 6th 2016

Start time: 10:00 AM

End time: 2:00 PM

Site Coordinator Details

Elyse Ballesty
email: elyse.ballesty@canadabay.nsw.gov.au

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SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S POETRY AND ARTS FESTIVAL 2016

One of the major feminist festivals in Sydney, the International Women’s Poetry and Arts Festival is directed by poet, filmmaker and Asylum Seekers Centre Ambassador, Saba Vasefi. It is hosted by member of the NSW Parliament Dr Mehreen Faruqi, and will be MCed by performer, writer and activist Candy Royalle. The Festival strives to honour and support female poets, writers and artists to reclaim their rightful place in literature and art by building coalitions based on solidarity, inclusion and diversity.

Sydney International Women’s Poetry and Arts Festival joins with the Women Poets International Movement (MPI) for the third year in a row to bring the Woman Scream Festival 2016 to Sydney. The Festival will take place at NSW Parliament House on March 16, 5:30-9:30pm. Woman Scream events are held in countries worldwide during the month of March. Last year the Festival was part of UNESCO’s 2015 International Year of Light.

Prominent writers, commentators, artists and scholars — such as Prof. Sahara Amer, chair of Arabic and Cultural studies at Sydney University; Jane Caro, author, novelist, commentator and award-winning advertising writer; Candy Royalle, performer, writer and activist; Adjunct Prof. Eva Cox, commentator and activist and Dr Leslie Cannold, researcher, public speaker & educator on gender, value-driven leadership and respectful relationships — will take part in a panel discussion chaired by writer Ruby Hamad.

Past festival participant, Michele Seminara, will also have her first poetry collection, Engraft, launched by Festival Director Saba Vasefi.

Wiradjuri elder and poet Jenny Munro, award winning poet Judith Beveridge, Human Rights Award finalist Yarrie Bangura, Associate Professor of English at Sydney University Dr Kate Lilly, Peril Magazine’s Poetry Editor Eleanor Jackson, and coordinator of Writing Through Fences Janet Galbraith, plus Hawraa Kash, Gloria Demillo and Gabrielle Jones, will recite their poems. Hip hop artists Sarah Anne Connor and Zainab Kadhim, as well as the classical Indian choreographer Aruna Gandhi and the Axis Wind ensemble from Tara Anglican School for Girls, will be performing.

The Festival is a showcase of diversity, including performances by Indigenous, migrant, LGBTI and refugee, as well as Australian-born, women. It aims to foster a supportive atmosphere empowering women to stand up against racism, sexism and violence.  It will shed light on the intersectional discrimination, masculine and racial biases which disempower women and damage society, while simultaneously emphasising the need to create new power structures and redefine what matters.

The Festival is partnered by distinguished academic, human rights and feminist organisations such as Daily Life, Sydney Peace Foundation, Sydney University, Amnesty International, Asylum Seekers Centre, Settlement Services International, Word Travels, Peril Magazine, Women Say Something, Full Stop Foundation and Bridge for Asylum Seeker Foundation.

The event will support donations and promotion for its partners and will be advertised in Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish and English. Twenty complimentary tickets will be offered to women of Indigenous, refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds.

Tickets: $20

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