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Eat your Greens! The candidate classes

By John Hargreaves - 2 November 2015 19

KURRAJONG ACT Greens candidates

This old Labor warhorse looked at the offerings from the Greens, as announced in the papers and online recently and thought, well, is this all that different?

I am looking at the process and the results of that process.

I have written about the Labor preselections coming up and what those candidates have to produce to get preselected and have also written about the political environment in which those preselections must be played out. When the Libs do so early next year I’ll go to print on them too.

Them Greens is funny cattle, ain’t they?

It struck me as funny when I saw the Greens preselect, as they did in previous elections, lead candidates for each electorate. A cursory reading of this idea is that they intend to push the lead candidates at the detriment of the support candidates.

This really relegates support candidates to political cannon fodder. The problem is that those support candidates will all believe that they have a chance of being elected. It is just part of candidate’s disease that they think they have a chance. If it was not, their effort on the campaign trail would be nil.

So, the lead candidates are Kurrajong, Shane Rattenbury (no surprises here); Murrumbidgee, Carolyn Le Couteur (no surprise here either except that she lives in Downer which is way, way away from the suburbs of South Canberra, Weston and Woden, let alone Kambah).

[Interesting here to note that when the Greens had four members in the Assembly, two of them did not live in their electorate – is this a trend?]

Ginninderra’s lead candidate is Indra Esguerra (Shane’s chief of staff and an Assembly staff member for many years – again no surprise); Yerrabi’s lead is Veronica Wensing (a lady with good creds in the women’s support sector); and Brindabella has Michael Mazengarb (this guy is a true greenie working on the environment and clean energy).

So the lead candidates are a current MLA, a former MLA, an Assembly staffer, a community advocate on women’s issues and a real greenie.

But how much talent is being lost by relegating the support cannon fodder to the back bleachers?

In Kurrajong is one of the most promising candidates, Rebecca Vassarotti (a household name in the community services sector. Ask anyone about her and they will say, oh yeah she’s with the Y or ACTCOSS), but with respect, Jillian Thomsen is there for the experience.

In Murrumbidgee, Jennifer Faerber is a former journo but also a political staffer working for Christine Milne and Richard Di Natale. (Staffers do get an inside run, eh?) Emma Davidson has good creds and is a strong candidate. (Too bad she’s only there to get Carolyn elected).

In Ginninderra, the blokes don’t look all that wild for my money. Richard Merzain seems to be a young guy with greenie stuff in his DNA but his idea of bringing the concept of a Sunday Assembly to life in Canberra is a worry. What about the separation of church and state? Sunday Assembly seems to be a bit hair brained to me. Jason Chappel seems to be a bit light on in his claim to be a small business person and making vague promises like “being committed to making Canberra and our whole community, a fairer place with more opportunity for those who slip between the cracks of our current system”. Drrrgh! Really! All candidates think this. And none can tell you which cracks there are, who is falling through them, and what they will do in real time to fix this one.

In Yerrabi, Andrew Braddock and Tobias Holm haven’t given anything to excite people to vote for them yet. Let’s hope that they don’t just run dead.

Down my way, Ben Murphy is backing up again, after failing at the run in 2012. I still don’t know anything about him and I don’t think the election will enlighten us. Tuggeranong is a funny place and really is not ready for more than one Green MLA. Its experience last time was enough. Amanda Bresnan didn’t live in the electorate and concentrated on shadow ministerial work. If you don’t get a core constituency in Tuggeranong, you won’t win in Brindabella. Young Johnathon Davis seems to want to follow Wyatt Roy and be the youngest MLA ever. Ros Dundas did that when elected at age 23 but that was a protest vote and this time the Greens will be the subject of the protest not the beneficiary of it. (I have a small affection for the young fella cos he spells his first name the same way as my grandson and they share the same surname – but I’ll get over it).

Back to the machinations. If a party has lead candidates and support candidates, it is not truly a democratic one. It has two classes of candidates and makes this obvious. So who is going to get the lion’s share of the resources and the media?

With the election spending cap in place and shared among the candidates of parties, does this mean that the lead candidates will soak up all of the cap at the expense of the support ones?

I feel sorry for the cannon fodder because they will all think that they have a chance of winning and really not even their party agrees with that. All they will do is give the donkey vote to their lead candidates as one by one they get eliminated. It is true that the party’s votes for eliminated candidates stays in the box and travels upwards. This is about 80% right. It is not true in all cases but consistent enough to bargain on.

So the cannon fodder are there to maximise the votes of the lead candidates and nothing else.

All major parties are guilty of this and what a waste of good talent.

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
Eat your Greens! The candidate classes
Nilrem 3:57 pm 04 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

Nilrem said :

rubaiyat said :

schmeah said :

Labor is also very guilty of letting staffers get a good run.

Look at the candidates up for preselection – in every electorate staffers are looking for preselection, some with very strong and influential support from MPs and Senators or MLAs, and they’re all so boring I could cry. The best candidates are not the staffers – they are the candidates that have the most potential to bring diversity and everyday appeal.

If you ever met those staffers they are the worst of the worst, vindictive, petty, revengeful and have the blankest look ever when you talk about principle or a higher (not personal) objective.

I was at a party once where I had to listen to an hour of what they were going to do to a long list of people. At the end of the hour I was still no wiser as to what Party they worked for or what agenda (if there was any).

To be fair, you are generalising a little too much. Sure, some staffers are clueless pains in the butt. But there are others who are senior, hard-working and smart public servants, leading academics etc. It’s like saying all public servants are lazy, time-serving, risk-averse, nepotistic slobs. It’s not true.

I understand that “all” equals 100%.

What percentage are you suggesting in its place? Keeping in mind that sincerity and concern for others is not actually on the job description of any political staffer I ever met.

I have come across many. Even so, I could not even guess a percentage, but I think you are seriously over-generalising. I have encountered a significant number of sociopaths in other workplaces, including the APS and in the private sector. Perhaps the issue is that staffers are required to represent the interests of their employers i.e. politicians, and that’s where the perception comes from.

rubaiyat 1:20 pm 03 Nov 15

Nilrem said :

rubaiyat said :

schmeah said :

Labor is also very guilty of letting staffers get a good run.

Look at the candidates up for preselection – in every electorate staffers are looking for preselection, some with very strong and influential support from MPs and Senators or MLAs, and they’re all so boring I could cry. The best candidates are not the staffers – they are the candidates that have the most potential to bring diversity and everyday appeal.

If you ever met those staffers they are the worst of the worst, vindictive, petty, revengeful and have the blankest look ever when you talk about principle or a higher (not personal) objective.

I was at a party once where I had to listen to an hour of what they were going to do to a long list of people. At the end of the hour I was still no wiser as to what Party they worked for or what agenda (if there was any).

To be fair, you are generalising a little too much. Sure, some staffers are clueless pains in the butt. But there are others who are senior, hard-working and smart public servants, leading academics etc. It’s like saying all public servants are lazy, time-serving, risk-averse, nepotistic slobs. It’s not true.

I understand that “all” equals 100%.

What percentage are you suggesting in its place? Keeping in mind that sincerity and concern for others is not actually on the job description of any political staffer I ever met.

Jill123 1:19 pm 03 Nov 15

As an additional note, in relation to the Sunday Assembly, are you aware that it is not a church? Your article makes me think you forgot to Google it before writing about it.

Jill123 1:15 pm 03 Nov 15

Its really hard to take an article seriously if it contains the grammatically horrifying sentence “Them Greens is funny cattle, ain’t they?”, but with respect, I’m not “there for the experience”, I’m there because I want a greener, more progressive assembly and the way I plan to build that is by campaigning as part of a diverse and formidable team.

Your painting of support candidates as sad, sorry candidates who have been mislead about their prospects of winning is both patronising and ill-informed. I am fully aware that Shane will have more campaigning resources than me and I’m not exactly weeping into my cereal over it.

HenryBG 12:57 pm 03 Nov 15

dlenihan said :

Mr Rattenbury says:

“If a candidate’s strongest claim is that they live in a particular suburb,…

A strawman fallacy from Rattenbury, sure sign of a weak argument…

Nilrem 12:07 pm 03 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

schmeah said :

Labor is also very guilty of letting staffers get a good run.

Look at the candidates up for preselection – in every electorate staffers are looking for preselection, some with very strong and influential support from MPs and Senators or MLAs, and they’re all so boring I could cry. The best candidates are not the staffers – they are the candidates that have the most potential to bring diversity and everyday appeal.

If you ever met those staffers they are the worst of the worst, vindictive, petty, revengeful and have the blankest look ever when you talk about principle or a higher (not personal) objective.

I was at a party once where I had to listen to an hour of what they were going to do to a long list of people. At the end of the hour I was still no wiser as to what Party they worked for or what agenda (if there was any).

To be fair, you are generalising a little too much. Sure, some staffers are clueless pains in the butt. But there are others who are senior, hard-working and smart public servants, leading academics etc. It’s like saying all public servants are lazy, time-serving, risk-averse, nepotistic slobs. It’s not true.

John Hargreaves 11:41 am 03 Nov 15

John Hargreaves said :

rubaiyat said :

schmeah said :

Labor is also very guilty of letting staffers get a good run.

Look at the candidates up for preselection – in every electorate staffers are looking for preselection, some with very strong and influential support from MPs and Senators or MLAs, and they’re all so boring I could cry. The best candidates are not the staffers – they are the candidates that have the most potential to bring diversity and everyday appeal.

If you ever met those staffers they are the worst of the worst, vindictive, petty, revengeful and have the blankest look ever when you talk about principle or a higher (not personal) objective.

I was at a party once where I had to listen to an hour of what they were going to do to a long list of people. At the end of the hour I was still no wiser as to what Party they worked for or what agenda (if there was any).

Interesting but not all that accurate or informed. For the 25 positions available, the ALP is considering
6 MLAs, 2 current staffers, 6 former staffers and 21 non staffer candidates. In other words, MLAs 17%, current staffers 6%, former staffers, 17% and non staffers 60%.

Let’s see the numbers for the Libs.

And… 15 women out of that 35 candidate list. that is 43%. Next?

John Hargreaves 11:38 am 03 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

schmeah said :

Labor is also very guilty of letting staffers get a good run.

Look at the candidates up for preselection – in every electorate staffers are looking for preselection, some with very strong and influential support from MPs and Senators or MLAs, and they’re all so boring I could cry. The best candidates are not the staffers – they are the candidates that have the most potential to bring diversity and everyday appeal.

If you ever met those staffers they are the worst of the worst, vindictive, petty, revengeful and have the blankest look ever when you talk about principle or a higher (not personal) objective.

I was at a party once where I had to listen to an hour of what they were going to do to a long list of people. At the end of the hour I was still no wiser as to what Party they worked for or what agenda (if there was any).

Interesting but not all that accurate or informed. For the 25 positions available, the ALP is considering
6 MLAs, 2 current staffers, 6 former staffers and 21 non staffer candidates. In other words, MLAs 17%, current staffers 6%, former staffers, 17% and non staffers 60%.

Let’s see the numbers for the Libs.

miz 7:20 am 03 Nov 15

Living in the electorate is absolutely crucial for me. I think it’s fairly obvious that a person can only get a genuine affinity to the area they represent if they personally experience the roads, nature strips, local shops, parks, infrastructure needs, etc . . . you would see and know the state of the place from your everyday life. It’s human nature.
Someone in O’Connor simply cannot have any idea about living in Tuggeranong, no matter how talented they may be. As such, the ONLY Greens candidate who would be worth voting for in Tuggeranong is Jonathan Davis. I recall that Mr Davis was a terrific student activist when the government was closing Kambah High during that disastrous policy some years ago.

There is actually a lot of (what I would call) general and consistent (though sometimes perhaps inadvertent – i.e. overlooked) discrimination against, and lack of knowledge about Tuggeranong within ACT Government and Tuggeranong needs genuine representatives, not stooges.

rubaiyat 3:34 pm 02 Nov 15

schmeah said :

Labor is also very guilty of letting staffers get a good run.

Look at the candidates up for preselection – in every electorate staffers are looking for preselection, some with very strong and influential support from MPs and Senators or MLAs, and they’re all so boring I could cry. The best candidates are not the staffers – they are the candidates that have the most potential to bring diversity and everyday appeal.

If you ever met those staffers they are the worst of the worst, vindictive, petty, revengeful and have the blankest look ever when you talk about principle or a higher (not personal) objective.

I was at a party once where I had to listen to an hour of what they were going to do to a long list of people. At the end of the hour I was still no wiser as to what Party they worked for or what agenda (if there was any).

schmeah 2:22 pm 02 Nov 15

Labor is also very guilty of letting staffers get a good run.

Look at the candidates up for preselection – in every electorate staffers are looking for preselection, some with very strong and influential support from MPs and Senators or MLAs, and they’re all so boring I could cry. The best candidates are not the staffers – they are the candidates that have the most potential to bring diversity and everyday appeal.

shellcase 2:20 pm 02 Nov 15

Agree; the very basis of our capitalist society is personal gain. Love the way politicians say ” I/we will govern for all the people”. Nonsense, it’s impossible.

I hold a high level of contempt for any politician who talks like that; can never imagine a Green government giving licensed shooters a fair go and they would baulk at the cost of equipping Customs to be able to search 100% of containers entering Australia, the same as recent governments have done and continue to do so.

The “one size fits all” approach of the altruist can only work in a controlled economy. Ask anyone who has lived under Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro et al what they think of single-philosophy government. The Greens are the same; limited and bad for the principle of Fair Go for All.

John Hargreaves 12:49 pm 02 Nov 15

And while I’m at it. This nonsense about not living in your electorate is just that – nonsense. The elite classes believe that their job is to govern for all Canberrans. Maybe, but the saying goes that politics is not global it is local. I disagree in part with this – I reckon all politics is personal. The “what’s in it for me?” syndrome. But also, whilst the “Government” governs, the Parliament represents and how someone from North Canberra can represent the aspirations of people in Belco or Tuggers, I don’t know.

Certainly, there are altruistic voters out there but they are by far in the minority. Most voters want something for themselves, their families, their suburb and their region.

How someone can know what the peculiarities of different suburbs are from afar is beyond me.

How someone like Indra Esguerra would know how Florey, Scullin or Page is like compared to Kim Fischer who lives there is beyond me also.

How someone like Michael Mazengarb would know how South Tuggeranong ticks better than Karl Maftoum or Middle Tuggeranong ticks better than Angie Drake is also beyond me.

Living in the electorate may not get people elected but not living in the electorate will ensure that one is not elected. As Meredith Hunter and Amanda Bresnan.

dlenihan 10:33 am 02 Nov 15

Eat your Greens? More like spit them out and never touch again.

From the CT article:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/inner-north-green-belt-nine-of-15-greens-candidates-call-inner-north-home-20151028-gkkfqt.html

Michael Mazengarb, of O’Connor, who tops the party’s list in the Tuggeranong electorate

Surely the idea of the boundaries is to have local elected member push for the local interest.

I am personally disgusted that any of the candidates think that not living in the electorate is acceptable.

While it is not illegal, it certainly is not generally acceptable in Federal or State seats and should not be considered for what is basically local government.

Mr Rattenbury says:

“If a candidate’s strongest claim is that they live in a particular suburb, I think the voters are going to look at that pretty sceptically,” he said. “I think the voters are a bit more sophisticated than that, they want to know what you believe in, what your values are, and what you’re going to do for them in the future of the Assembly, not what your postcode is.”

I totally disagree.

shellcase 10:28 am 02 Nov 15

Irrespective of their talent or lack of no Green will ever get my vote. Agree with Lawsie when he calls them watermelons.

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