A Sheikhy time to be entering politics stage left
There is fresh evidence Australians are dividing between Labor and the Liberals and that the shift to the political poles is leaving the Greens adrift and losing much of the electoral ballast accumulated over the past five years.
Voting last weekend in the Australian Capital Territory has followed the broad trend set in recent NSW local government elections and recorded in opinion polling.
It could be that the latest third-party bloc, balance of power heirs to the Australian Democrats, is being stranded with reduced influence. Which additionally could mean that in the history of really unfortunate political timing there might be a footnote, at least, for activist Simon Sheikh who is setting out to enter Parliament.
Mr Sheikh is known for exposing Sophie Mirabella’s lack of paramedical training when he collapsed onto the desk during an ABC TV program as the Liberal shadow minister sat next to him looking on, somewhat bemused.
He is more broadly known as one of the founders of GetUp, the guerrilla political group which has marshalled an online constituency and its money to launch raids on the major parties with such issues as gay marriage and carbon emission reductions.
Mr Sheikh wants to be an ACT senator for the Green party at the next federal election but he has picked a moment in political time when the electorate appears to be heading elsewhere.
The ACT has traditionally and neatly elected one Labor senator and one Liberal senator. It probably isn’t the time to attempt to disrupt that arrangement by knocking off the Liberal.
The Greens in the Australian Capital territory last weekend lost three quarters of their number in the local Legislative Assembly. The party had four of the 17 assembly members but now will be left with just one, latest counting shows.
The remaining party member will have to decide whether to support a Liberal Government (eight members) or retain Labor (eight members).
The ABC’s election expert Anthony Green says this is the biggest ever decline of a political party which saw a 300 per cent boost to its result in the previous election, four years ago.
That’s no doubt true but it is a bit hard to use a drop from four MLAs to one to establish a benchmark.
However, it is clear that the ACT, with some of the best educated and informed voters in the country, wanted to push the Greens to the side. Without proportional representation in multi-member electorates there might be no Green presence at all.
Quite likely there will be a Labor government supported by the solitary Green, and many ACT voters will be disappointed there was no uncluttered result.
The federal experiment with the minority Labor government of Julia Gillard and the Greens has not impressed some voters. They don’t want it’s repeat elsewhere.
Major polls show the Greens maintaining their 10 to 11 per cent of the primary vote as Labor has slowly improved its numbers while still being well behind the Coalition.
In the ACT, however, the Greens share of the vote fell from close to 11 per cent to just under five per cent. All that since 2008.
It was a similar outcome in very dissimilar ballots in the NSW local government elections in September when the Green vote shrank in areas where it had been strong in the 2007 federal elections and in the 2008 council votes.
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