21 May 2019

Greens say the election was about the future, not winning

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Greens ACT Senate candidate Penny Kyburz. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos.

While there wasn’t a seat in it for them, the ACT Greens have declared themselves reasonably pleased with the results of the ACT election in many respects. After missing the major candidates on Saturday night, Region media caught up with Tim Hollo and Dr Penny Kuyburz on Monday (20 May).

“We always knew it was a really big ask to win this time but still gave it our best shot,” Hollo says. “We knew this was about setting up the ACT Greens for the longer term, hoping to win the seat but also setting up the party for leading into the 2020 Territory election.”

The current vote count shows that the Greens won several booths in the inner north outright and performed strongly at a number of others, garnering more than 30 per cent of the vote. They were less well supported in the inner south, averaging around 20 per cent with an electorate low of 14 per cent in Deakin.

Senate results in the inner north were similarly strong: Dr Penny Kyburz won four booths outright, peaking at a 40 per cent vote in Dickson, falling away to 12.8 per cent in Deakin. Greens organisers say this means that the new seat of Canberra now has the fifth-highest Greens House vote in the country, while Dr Kyburz has achieved the highest Greens Senate vote in the country (28,487 votes, or .58 of a quota for the ACT).

While the results suggest that the Greens have a very strong base in the inner north, both Tim Hollo and Penny Kyburz have dismissed the suggestion that they will run for the 2020 Territory election.

“I’m not putting myself forward,” Hollo says. “I’m not suggesting I didn’t play a role in the vote but it was about the party, the issues and the campaign we ran.

“We have a tremendous team currently in the Assembly and there’s a depth of talent in the ACT Greens of people who can and will put themselves forward. My focus is on the Federal sphere and connecting that with grassroots issues.”

Lead Senate candidate Penny Kyburz also says she won’t run in the ACT election. “There are a lot of good people in the ACT whom I’m keen to support,” she says, adding that both she and Hollo are open to the idea of running at the next Federal election and capitalising on strong name recognition.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve run the same candidate federally twice (Kerrie Tucker ran in 2004 and 2007). These really strong results in Canberra and the Senate are a good opportunity to build on, and we’ll work towards helping Shane Rattenbury and Caroline Le Couteur get re-elected, maybe with another Kurrajong candidate and possibly one for Ginninderra after the strong results we saw in the Belconnen booths.”

Kyburz and Hollo both resist the notion that this didn’t turn out to be a climate change election after all, saying the issues were strong for many Canberrans. And Kyburz says the Greens have shown resilience around the country in returning all their Federal representatives.

“We are seeing a lot of very superficial responses about what happened in the election, all of which play in some way to the total picture,” Hollo says. “But those seeking a simplistic response to this weekend are barking up the wrong tree. All politics is complicated and interconnected. We need to spend months pouring through that to understand what happened and why.”

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