LESS than a month before the NSW election, Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt has said the votes of LGBTI people in Sydney’s inner-west seat of Newtown may be some of the most influential in the state due to the electorate being one of the few that could fall outside the major party’s grasp.
Bandt also said only the Greens could be trusted to consistently vote for LGBTI equality.
Bandt made the comments last weekend during a visit to the inner west to support the campaigns of incumbent Balmain state Greens MP Jamie Parker and Greens candidate for Newtown Jenny Leong.
Talking exclusively to the Star Observer, the Melbourne federal Greens MP said: “GLBTI voters in Newtown are amongst… the most powerful voters in the state at this election – they can do something that no one else can which is put a Greens in the lower house”.
Bandt believes this was important established parties paid little attention to the wishes of inner city voters.
“There always been this assumption, ‘oh your electorates just a safe seat… so we can take your vote for granted’,” he said.
“Now, as these seats become much closer, people realise their vote is powerful and that’s a good position to be because it helps elevate equality and fairness on the agenda than it might not have been before.”
The Greens currently hold five upper house seats in NSW as well as the lower house electorate of Balmain where the party is being challenged by former Labor minister Verity Firth.
The new electorate of Newtown has been formed from the eastern portion of the former seat of Marrickville – including Petersham and Enmore – as well as Chippendale, Redfern and parts of Surry Hills from neighbouring seats.
With no sitting MP, Leong and Sharpe are battling to be Newtown’s inaugural member. ABC’s election expert Antony Green has suggested the seat is marginally Green.
Bandt said full LGBTI equality was “part of our reason for existence” and that voters couldn’t trust established parties to push through reforms.
“At the federal level it’s a lesson in Labor saying one thing and doing another,” he said.
“Even when Labor has been in government they haven’t pushed marriage equality… but you can rest assured that every member of the Greens will vote for equality.”
However, Sharpe refuted Bandt’s claims: “The hard-won NSW reforms, from removing discrimination against same-sex couples in all areas of law to parenting recognition and our world leading response to HIV have been delivered by Labor.”
Sharpe said other reforms, such as adoption and the continued fight for marriage equality had involved LGBTI MPs from across the parties and it was “disappointing that the Greens want to throw away that multi-partisanship”.
“As one of the few openly-gay MPs I recognise the value of a more diverse parliament that is able to bring the lived experience of LGBTI people into all decision making — I look forward to the Greens in NSW putting forward candidates from the LGBTI community in winnable positions one day,” Sharpe added.
Asked why the Greens weren’t putting more resources into the seat of Sydney, Bandt said the party had “a real shot of winning two seats”— seemingly a reference to Balmain and Newtown.
When pushed if it was because incumbent Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich had largely grabbed the Greens’ vote, Bandt said: “I’ve met Alex… I’ve got a lot of time for him [but]… I always think the best way to signal you want change is to vote one for Greens.”