Federal leader of the Greens, Senator Richard DiNatale and ACT senate candidate Christine Hobbs. Photo: Graham Tidy Greens Senator Richard DiNatale, Senate candidate Christina Hobbs and ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury. Photo: Graham Tidy
Liberal senator Zed Seselja’s conservative views on climate change, same-sex marriage and racial discrimination laws make him vulnerable at next year’s federal election, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said on Thursday.
Announcing economist and United Nations humanitarian worker Christina Hobbs as the party’s lead ACT Senate candidate for the poll, Senator Di Natale said the Greens had a good chance to defeat the first term backbencher next year.
The party has research firm Lonergan conducting recorded phone polls in Canberra, to gauge voting intentions at the federal and territory levels and ask participants their priorities for choosing who to support. Paid 90-minute focus groups are also planned this month.
Immigration lawyer Carly Anne Saeedi will stand against Labor’s Andrew Leigh in the lower house seat of Fraser, and community worker Patricia Cahill will stand against Gai Brodtmann in the seat of Canberra. Medical Association for the Prevention of War vice-president Sue Warham will run as Senate support candidate for the Greens.
Senator Di Natale said Canberra voters were rejecting Senator Seselja’s views – repeatedly linking him to dumped prime minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition’s conservative right. He said the party would provide adequate resources to win the Canberra races.
“I have to say I find it remarkable that we have somebody there, representing the voters of the ACT, whose views on climate change belong in the last century, whose views on marriage equality belong in the century before that, who has shown not a skerrick of compassion or decency toward refugees and asylum seekers, and only last week joined with a number of Senate crossbenchers to open the flood gates to racism, to hate speech.”
“This is a very engaged electorate, this is an electorate where people take their politics very, very seriously. They’re not going to be fooled by a change in leader that doesn’t deliver a changing policy direction.”
Ms Hobbs is an economist and food security expert, working with the United Nations World Food Program in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. A board director of the Global Women’s Project and adviser to the anti-fossil fuel superannuation fund Future Super, she has also worked with refugees in Syria and Turkey.
“I think, like many Canberrans, I have really disapproved of what we’ve seen in politics over the past couple of years,” she said.
“As a senator, I want to stand up for issues I have worked on for most of my life, issues like creating economic justice across society, issues like tackling climate change, shifting our economic towards an innovative, knowledge-based economy.
“I believe my values are very much in line with the values of most forward-thinking progressive Canberrans and I truly look forward to providing an alternative in the Senate.”
Former Greens Senate candidate Simon Sheikh ruled himself out of preselection in August.
ACT Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury said the popularity of former chief minister Katy Gallagher would win new voters for Labor in 2016, making it harder for Senator Seselja to win a full Senate quota.
“I expect to see Senator Gallagher draw several percentage points more in Labor votes here in the ACT given her strong track record … that will impact on the Liberal Party vote.”
Senator Seselja brushed off the criticisms.
“I look forward to again seeking the support of the community where I have lived all my life and represented since 2004,” he said. “I wish all candidates well and look forward to a robust debate over the coming year.”
Mr Sheikh won 19 per cent of the vote in 2013, finishing third on preferences behind former Labor minister Kate Lundy and Senator Seselja.
The Greens are expected to announce their candidates for next October’s ACT Legislative Assembly election next week. The party had concluded its preselection for about 15 candidates across the five electorates.
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