Greens members working on the 2016 ACT election have complained to an internal review about a culture of secrecy, with power concentrated in a few hands and information not shared.
Party members complained that they weren't able to express alternative views and people would arrive at meetings with decisions already made. They said the ACT Greens had an "in" and "out" group, "a small handful of people who feel that knowledge is power and don't want to share it" and "perceived friendship cliques", and was vulnerable to the influence of personalities.
One member commented that "no one knows what's going on and those that do share subjectively"; another that "there's a culture of quietism amongst office bearers".
The complaints were made to a independent review by Pru Gell, which also refers to three "critical" and "serious" incidents that remain unresolved and have caused deep upset in the party.
Her report, completed in February, does not spell out what happened, and nor would party convenor Michael Mazengarb disclose any information about the incidents.
Ms Gell said people had reported ongoing problems as a result, in some cases significant. She recommends an apology from the party and an acknowledgement that "there were issues in the campaign, some very serious, and that some are ongoing and that there are ongoing consequences for individuals and the party more broadly as a result".
Ms Gell said the party should address "concentration of power, transparency, clarity and flow of information", which had helped cultivate an environment where the party had apparently responded inappropriately to the three specific issues.
Her report has been leaked to Fairfax Media ahead of a party meeting on Saturday, March 11, where members will consider the party's 2016 election campaign. Greens members who want to see the reports must make an appointment to read them in the party's office.
The Greens won two seats, but their vote of 10.3 per cent was down from 10.7 per cent in 2012 and 15.6 per cent in 2008. Poling by Labor and the Greens had suggested they would do better, predicting 13 to 15 per cent.
The Gell report said the ramifications of the incidents had rippled through the party, leaving people confused and distressed. Dealing with them would "begin to positively transform some of the problematic aspects of the party's culture and also lift morale". She recommends a "critical incident and serious matter register" and proper process.
Her report, based on a debrief and interviews with party members, said party members were happy with the strategy and messaging, and thought the campaign had been run professionally.
But some were unhappy with the process for choosing candidates, calling for more transparency and questioning whether candidates should be required to live in their electorates or demonstrate links to their electorates. Nine of the 15 election candidates lived in the inner north, including all five lead candidates.
The bulk of the complaints were about campaign culture: "how decisions are made and implemented; how power is shared; how issues are dealt with; transparency and how information is shared; how accountable people are; trust; reputational risk; how valued people are and the general tone of the culture".
Ms Gell recommended the party acknowledge that some members felt the need to rebuild trust, and "take action regarding the problematic areas of the party and culture so that people see that these issues, and other specific complaints made, are being addressed properly".
The party would improve its culture and health if, rather than seeing people who raised issues during the campaign as "difficult", it viewed them as "people who are willing to speak up about important matters".
The Greens are worried about raising issues openly without "fear of media threat or risk", but Ms Gell invites them to consider how to make improvements "in a way that is conscious of potential reputational risk for the party, rather than fear of reputational risk being an enabler of poor practice".
Neither sitting politician Shane Rattenbury nor colleague Caroline Le Couteur would comment.
Mr Mazengarb said the Greens "take complaints, grievances and concerns of our members and volunteers, of any nature, very seriously. This has always been the case."
The party was seeking feedback on the Gell report, and on reports from the campaign manager and the campaign team on Saturday, "Of course there are a range of experiences and views amongst our members and volunteers who campaigned during the election, and the ACT Greens are committed to learning from each campaign," he said.
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