The Greens’ Jamie Parker has come out on top after a photo finish in the race for the state seat of Balmain.
Parker received 14,015 votes to Labor candidate Verity Firth’s 13,770 votes, and after preferences pushed past the Liberals’ James Falk to claim the seat.
During the election campaign, Parker told the Star Observer he wanted to push hard on GLBTI issues such as religious exemptions in the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act and combating homophobic bullying.
“It’s not only an issue of developing legislation to manage this. It’s also about educating people in the wider community about the terrible impact this type of bullying can have,” Parker said.
Parker’s entry into the NSW Legislative Assembly gives the Greens a presence in both houses for the first time and the ability to move private members bills in both.
The Greens may still pick up an additional seat in the Legislative Council at the expense of One Nation party founder Pauline Hanson, which would boost their numbers to five MLCs.
Firth, a strong supporter of the GLBTI community, was the Keneally Government’s Minister for Education and Training.
As one of her lasts acts as education minister, Firth announced a $250,000 pilot program aimed at tackling homophobia in schools, to be rolled out across the state if successful, and extracted a pledge of bipartisan support for the program should the Coalition take power.
The Greens also support the Proud Schools program, which will begin this year at around 12 public high schools across Sydney, the Hunter and the Central Coast.