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Greens squabbling about Sheikh's Senate preselection

Date

Chris Johnson

Celebrity candidate ... Simon Sheikh has nominated to run for the Greens in the ACT.

Celebrity candidate ... Simon Sheikh has nominated to run for the Greens in the ACT. Photo: Rob Homer

ACT Greens are fighting among themselves for the right to try to unseat Liberal senator Gary Humphries in next year's election.

A bitter stoush has been sparked by the nomination of high-profile former GetUp! director Simon Sheikh and the apparent endorsement he received from federal Greens leader Christine Milne.

Nominations for the party's ACT Senate preselection closed on Monday with two other Greens members putting up their hands.

One of those candidates, Kate Hamilton, on Wednesday said she would be actively running against Mr Sheikh for top billing on the party's Senate ticket.

Describing Mr Sheikh as a ''celebrity candidate'' who had only recently joined the Greens and moved to Canberra, Ms Hamilton said the strength of the party was in its grassroots origins.

''Parachuting in candidates will alienate members like it has in the major parties,'' she said. ''I am surprised Mr Sheikh chose the Senate seat in Canberra as his next career goal. You know Canberra voters don't necessarily reward fly-in fly-out lobbyists.''

Ms Hamilton returned to Canberra last year after living 22 years in Sydney. Between 2004 and 2008 she was a Greens councillor on the Leichhardt Council.

But ACT Greens convenor Simon Copland is angry she has spoken out against Mr Sheikh, whose nomination has been largely welcomed by the local environmental community.

''Kate Hamilton's actions are against ACT Greens process which prohibits preselection candidates from campaigning against each other in the media,'' he said. ''For this reason, the party will take appropriate action in relation to this.''

Mr Copland did not say what that action might be.

Nor did he comment on the fact that Mr Sheikh spoke to Fairfax about his nomination last week and that Senator Milne publicly said she was delighted at his willingness to join the team.

The ACT convenor said Mr Sheikh had approached the Greens in relation to preselection, not the other way around.

''The ACT Greens are a strongly democratic grassroots party,'' Mr Copland said.

Fairfax sought comment from Senator Milne about Ms Hamilton's nomination but got no response.

Ms Hamilton said she had ''enormous respect for Christine''.

Mr Sheikh responded to Ms Hamilton's statement, saying: ''I've found Canberrans to be warm and welcoming and have enjoyed engaging with the membership of the ACT Greens.

''I have a long-term relationship with Canberra and believe my track record shows that I am effective at getting outcomes.

''If I am preselected I will be putting all of my energy towards getting better outcomes for the people of Canberra, particularly in the face of Tony Abbott's job cuts.''

Ballots will go to ACT Greens members in two weeks' time and stay open for three weeks.

The preselection will be decided early in December.

The third candidate who nominated is local Greens member Stephen Darwin.

16 comments

  • Who cares, with a bit of luck the Green's are a spent force and will go the way of the Democrats.

    Commenter
    Irene
    Date and time
    November 01, 2012, 8:34AM
    • A spent force? They lost three seats but at least two of them polled more primary votes than three of the members elected. They lost because of the large quotas of Zed and Katie and the vagaries of the Hare Clark system. They are hardly a spent force when they now hold the balance of power. Zed and Katie will do a deal on anything to gain their favour. Minor parties suffer when people perceive times are tough. Abbott has many Aussies convinced that we're Spain or Greece and about to go down the gurgler. They will be in trouble Federally as they've lost a charismatic leader. At the moment they're the most powerful force in ACT politics.

      Commenter
      Lord Lucan
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 9:02AM
    • Greens are definitely not a spent force Federally. With Federal Labor moving more and more to the right (unlike ACT Labor which still supports progressive issues), progressive Labor voters will be looking for an alternative party to vote for.

      Commenter
      rdr
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 9:33AM
    • Bravo Irene

      Commenter
      margo
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 9:34AM
    • Welcome back to yumq aka Lord Lucan.

      Welcome back as well to a swing against Independents and minority issue Parties. Sadly the Greens are not the Democrats and who apparently prefer hubris to humility as the basis for their policy platform. Unfortunately the loss of Bob Brown and the revelations about what under-pin much of senior Green thinking have put this Party into a downward spiral.

      Commenter
      Outraged of Palmerston
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 9:39AM
    • Right so it's Abbott's fault, got that. Or is it the Hare-Clark system? It's just got nothing to do with people being sick to the back teeth of people like the greens (and get up). "charismatic leader"? Surely you don't mean that mono-toned buffoon Boooooob Broooowwwnnn.
      P.S.
      Congratulations to the Canberra Times for finding an even more smug picture of one of our society's great "do nothings". Simon Smug please go away you are nauseating.

      Commenter
      WotTha?????
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 10:01AM
    • Electoral success is cyclical. Political parties experience ups and downs, as we all know. The Australian and ACT Greens (plural number, not possessive case, so no apostrophe, Irene) may well go the way of the Swedish Greens who, after defeat in 1991, have now gone from strength to strength, with 25 seats in the Swedish Parliament. The same story elsewhere in Europe.

      Commenter
      Trish
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 10:24AM
    • "The Green's [sic] are a spent force." This ignorance of the Hare Clarke system is as common as it is frustrating. Yes, the Greens did get fewer votes, but the Hare Clarke system worked against them on this occasion, just as it worked for them in the previous election - that's what happens sometimes.

      And it is wishful thinking. Over the last decade, if you bother to look at the trends, the Greens have gradually increased their vote across the country.

      More importantly, in my view, the Greens have stood up for sensible policy instead of populism, to which the two major parties seem addicted. The war in Afghanistan, immigration, gambling reform, carbon emissions, water conservation - on just about every serious policy, the Greens have shown themselves to be decades in front of the major parties, they do the hard yards to drag them kicking and screaming to catch up with the rest of the world

      Commenter
      edgeways
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 11:07AM
  • I say good luck to Simon. no need for sour grapes from other members. Simon would add valuable merit to the team. And yes whilst he is high profile, so too have other candidates in the past been aka Clive Hamilton in contesting for Costellos seat.
    Seems every party is full of in house bickering these days, I'd hoped the Greens were bigger and better than that or at least keep the hat on it!

    Commenter
    A country gal
    Date and time
    November 01, 2012, 9:23AM
    • Right so it's Abbott's fault, got that. Or is it the Hare-Clark system? It's just got nothing to do with people being sick to the back teeth of people like the greens (and get up). "charismatic leader"? Surely you don't mean that mono-toned buffoon Boooooob Broooowwwnnn.
      P.S.
      Congratulations to the Canberra Times for finding an even more smug picture of one of our society's great "do nothings". Simon Smug please go away you are nauseating.

      Commenter
      WotTha?????
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 10:23AM

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