Greens give Labor a helping hand

The Labor Partys candidate for Lismore in the upcoming state election, Peter Lanyon, has welcomed a helping hand from the local Greens who are preferencing him ahead of sitting Nationals MP Thomas George.

For the March 24 election, the Greens are preferencing Labor ahead of the Coalition in 24 marginal seats but Greens candidates in the three Far North Coast seats of Ballina, Clarence and Tweed have bucked that trend by refusing to endorse Labor through preferences.

The preference deal between Labor and the Greens has come under fire from several quarters including the Coalition, which stands to lose ground as a result, as well as the Shires Association of NSW and the Climate Change Coalition.

Mr Lanyon, a Country Labor candidate, said the move by the Greens Lismore candidate Andy Gough to recommend his supporters put Labor at No. 3 behind the Democrats at No. 2 on their how-to-vote card was good news.

Yes, it will help because if votes exhaust, theyre gone, but by preferencing, a vote for the Greens can be a vote for Labor, he said.

Greens supporters are smart people who understand how it (preferencing) operates.

Labor in Lismore is preferencing the Greens in both the upper and lower house and Im inviting the Greens to reciprocate, he said.

Mr Lanyon said Mr Goughs move was unusual as in the past two state elections, the Greens in Lismore did not preference Labor.

Mr Gough said that despite his move, many voters in Lismore would not direct preferences to Labor no matter what we have printed on our how-to-vote cards they would rather exhaust their vote than have it end up with Labor.

We have put numbers on our how-to-vote card in Lismore but we want all voters to know that under optional preferential voting in the state system they dont have to give preferences as we suggest. Numbering only one box is not an informal vote, he said.

I have always encouraged voters to decide their own preference flows.

The Greens candidate in Ballina, John Bailey, has urged Green voters to decide their own preferences, as has the Greens candidate in Clarence, Theo Jongen and the Greens Tom Tabart in Tweed, the most marginal seat in the state.

Mr Gough said it was no surprise that the three candidates refused to direct preferences to any of the major parties which had identical damaging policies and regularly voted together to weaken our rights and make it easier for developers.

Patrice Newell, who heads the Climate Change Coalitions Upper House team, said the Greens preference deal with Labor made it more difficult for community and environmental groups, plus independents, to make a difference at the election and urged all independent candidates to work together to fill the void the Greens have left.

Shires Association of NSW president Col Sullivan said the Greens had disappointed rural and regional councils with their preference deal which showed they had stepped back from putting pressure on the state government over issues such as the removal of council planning controls and the concentration of power in the hands of Planning Minister Frank Sartor.

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