SYDNEY state independent MP Alex Greenwich has told the Star Observer he is as “surprised as anyone” that the Liberal Party has directed its voters in the LGBTI-centric seat of Sydney to preference him as their second choice at next week’s NSW State Election.
Greenwich also said he received calls from both Labor and the Greens to inform him they would be preferencing him, although he said he would not reciprocate seeing as he is independent.
On the other hand, Greenwich said fellow state independent MP for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper was also being preferenced by all the major parties, and he would not be reciprocating, either.
Meanwhile, Greenwich’s Liberal rival unexpectedly turned up at a public forum in the electorate last night amid claims the party’s head office had banned its candidates from attending hustings in Newtown and Sydney – both electorates with large LGBTI populations.
At next week’s election, voters choosing lower house candidates will be able to vote solely for their favourite or rank the candidates in order of preference.
Capitalising on the fact many voters will not have scrutinised all their local candidate’s policies, parties are distributing “how to vote” guides with suggestions about who to choose and in which order.
In Sydney, the Liberals have suggested voters place Greenwich second after their candidate Patrice Pandeleos.
The views of Greenwich and the Liberal Party differ in several areas, notably when it comes to marriage equality which Liberal Premier Mike Baird has said he doesn’t support. However, Greenwich has also been able to work across the floor on several parliamentary issues, including supporting the Coalition’s bill to extinguish historical consensual gay sex convictions last year.
Greenwich told the Star Observer the Liberals were free to suggest their supporters put him in second place but as the seat was likely to be a battle between him and Pandeleos, he didn’t think it would have an effect.
“I was surprised as anyone but I did not ask for preferences nor do I need them,” he said.
According to a Fairfax Media report, a possible reason for the Liberals’ preferencing of the incumbent independent MP could be the fear of a hung parliament if Labor does far better than expected, despite current polls suggesting a clear win for the Coalition.
Greenwich said neither he, nor anyone on his team, had met Liberal representatives to discuss preferences.
“There were no meetings with anyone,” he said.
“I had got a call on Sunday just saying they were going to preference me but I didn’t know beforehand.”
Nonetheless, he said any preferences wouldn’t be returned.
“As a true and genuine independent I don’t allocate preferences,” Greenwich said.
“No preferences, no deals, just Alex.”
Greenwich’s rival, Pandeleos, did attend an election forum last night at Paddington’s Uniting Church despite Fairfax Media reporting that Liberal head office — claims the office deny — had banned its candidates in Newtown and Sydney from attending public debates.
On Facebook today, Pandeleos posted that she had “thoroughly enjoyed the debate”.
Coogee state Liberal MP Bruce Notely-Smith, who is openly-gay, also confirmed to the Star Observer he had attended a number of forums – both in his electorate and for the LGBTI community – and said: “I always look forward to them.”
However, both Balmain state Greens MP Jamie Parker and the Greens candidate for Newtown, Jenny Leong, have told the Star Observer they have failed to see their Liberal rivals at similar debates.
Asked what undecided LGBTI voters might make of the no-shows, Leong said: “If they’re so ashamed of their [LGBTI] policy positions that they’re not willing to show I wonder why anybody in Newtown would vote for them.”
Pandeleos’ office told the Star Observer they were unable to discuss preferences or whether their candidate had been previously told not to attend debates.
[Editor’s note: this article was updated at 11:15am on Saturday, March 21.]