NSW Labor delegates vote to deny Greens automatic preferences
- From: AAP
- July 14, 2012
DELEGATES at New South Wales Labor's annual conference voted overwhelmingly to deny the Greens automatic preferences at elections, despite a passionate defence by Left faction stalwarts.A clear majority of the party's 850 delegates, including the Left, supported a resolution that ‘NSW Labor should not provide the Greens Party with automatic preferential treatment in any future preference negotiations’.
The motion also reaffirmed that Labor would continue to put One Nation and other “racist right” parties last.
The vote followed a week of a week of Labor attacks on the Greens, amid party fears that Julia Gillard's deal to govern in minority with Greens support had alienated moderate Labor supporters.
NSW Labor general secretary Sam Dastyari, whose anti-Greens motion was revealed by The Weekend Australian last weekend, told delegates earlier today that the Greens’ “free ride” on Labor preferences should be ended. “The Greens political party are not our friends, they are not our allies, they are our political rivals,'' Mr Dastyari said.
But Senator John Faulkner, a former defence minister, told the conference that floating the motion in the media appeared to be a ploy to chase headlines and would not win over Greens voters. “There's another reality. You have to win primary votes to have preferences to give,'' Senator Faulkner said. “And in case you hadn't noticed, our primary vote is far too low and getting lower.” “Our party is facing a crisis of organisation and a crisis of belief and instead of grappling with those threats to our survival as a party ... we're talking about the miniature of politics, tactics, preferences,’ he added.
Assistant secretary John Graham, from the party's Left, said that the NSW Right's proposal would do more to alienate Greens voters. Mr Graham described Mr Dastyari and Australian Workers' Union chief Paul Howes, a right-wing ally of the state secretary, as “human headlines''.
NSW Labor senator Doug Cameron, from the party's hard Left faction, said that while he disagreed with the Greens' stance on the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme and refugee policy, Labor should not attack their left-wing values. “I say that we should not attack any party that takes progressive positions,'' Senator Cameron told delegates from the conference floor. “The type of positions that the Greens take on the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the WTO (World Trade Organization; my union the AMWU wrote those policies and they plagiarised them so why should we attack them on decent policy?”
But Joel Fitzgibbon, a right-faction federal MP from the mining-rich Hunter electorate, who moved the motion, said that the minority government was being unfairly blamed for its alliance with the Greens. “For too long we have been appeasing them and it must come to an end,'' Mr Fitzgibbon, the chief government whip, told the conference. “There's an assumption wrongly out there that the Greens are pulling us by the nose, that we are too close to the Greens, and therefore too close to some of the extreme policies they promote including policies that would have a devastating impact on my electorate like the ... effectively the closure of the coal mining industry.''
However, federal infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese, who faces a strong threat from the Greens in his inner-western Sydney seat of Grayndler, said that Labor needed to talk more about its values than about preference deals. “Labor will defeat the Greens political party by the value of ideas and our principles, not by the value of our preferences,'' Mr Albanese said.
Senator Faulkner saved his venom for Mr Howes, who has actively pushed for Labor to distance itself from the Greens. “I've even fought more Greens and Nationals than you've done media interviews,'' Senator Faulkner said. “Why don't you just put a sock in it for once?''
The conference also passed a motion to have a committee examine a proposal for rank and file party members to directly elect Labor's parliamentary leader. The Right and NSW opposition leader John Robertson supported this position