ACT Lib expecting Greens with cash
Simon Sheikh. Photo: Rob Homer
ACT Liberal senator Gary Humphries expects the Greens to throw ''huge resources and lots of money'' into their campaign to unseat him at the next federal election.
The Canberra Times this week revealed that former GetUp! director Simon Sheikh hopes to gain Greens preselection for an ACT Senate campaign.
It is Senator Humphries' seat Mr Sheikh believes he can win, saying it is ''on a knife edge'' and would take only 1500 voters to swap from Liberals to Greens.
Senator Humphries used social media to make fun of the comment yesterday, tweeting that the knife in question was probably used to help remove Bob Brown from the Greens' leadership earlier this year.
''Simon Sheikh says the ACT is on a knife edge. Must be the same knife Lee Rhiannon had out 4 Bob Brown,'' Senator Humphries tweeted.
Mr Sheikh said if the ACT Greens put their trust in him he would campaign on ''issues that matter for Canberrans''.
''It is disappointing that it looks like Gary Humphries won't be doing the same,'' he said. ''Ultimately, a vote for Gary Humphries is a vote for Tony Abbott's job cuts.''
Senator Humphries said he had become used to the Greens targeting him each election. ''Once again we see the Greens bowling up what looks like is going to be a huge effort to win an ACT Senate seat,'' he said.
''We know from the last couple of elections that they tend to throw huge resources and lots of money into these campaigns.''
Senator Humphries said he expected that GetUp!, the lobby group Mr Sheikh ran until earlier this year, would pour money into the campaign.
But the group's new director, Sam McLean, said while the organisation wished Mr Sheikh well, it would not be endorsing his candidacy. ''At GetUp! we are about policies, not political parties,'' he said.
''Obviously that means GetUp! does not endorse individual candidates.''
Senator Humphries also raised concerns that Greens leader Christine Milne had appeared to endorse Mr Sheikh by expressing her delight at his desire to join her team.
Senator Humphries said a number of Greens MLAs who had just lost their ACT Assembly seats, as well as high-profile campaigner Lin Hatfield Dodds, who contested the Senate at the last election, might also want to put up their hands.
''All of these people are apparently being pushed to one side in favour of the federal leader's choice of candidate,'' Senator Humphries said. ''That's a bit disturbing for an organisation that is supposed to be the most grassroots organisation in the country.''
Ms Hatfield Dodds told The Canberra Times yesterday that she would not be running for the Senate again.
''If Simon gets preselected, I think he will be a fantastic candidate,'' she said.
''And he would be a great senator for the ACT too.
''It was an enormous privilege for me to campaign for the Senate on behalf of the Greens, and we came close, but I was always only going to run once.''