The Greens’ face in Bennelong: @preciouspress interview


Lindsay Peters

By Jack Sumner

15 August 2013

On August 13, Greens candidate Lindsay Peters handed out leaflets at Epping Station before putting in a full day’s work at the software company he co-founded in 1996. In his lounge room that evening, he spoke to me about his commitment to the Greens and the Bennelong campaign.

Lindsay said his upbringing and Catholic education had given him a keen sense of social justice and a love of nature. But it was the “shocking behaviour” of John Howard, then prime minister and the member for Bennelong, and the spineless acquiescence of Kim Beazley over the Tampa affair, that tipped him from being a default Labor voter to a Greens supporter.  He felt they were the only party that had given genuine consideration to the plight of the asylum seekers who were rescued from a sinking boat and taken aboard the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa off northwestern Australia, only to be denied entry to Australia for processing.

Since that 2001 epiphany he has become increasingly committed to the Greens’ principles of social and economic justice, the environment, world peace, and grassroots democracy.

Lindsay worked on the 2004 election campaign, in which Andrew Wilkie  stood for the Greens and won 16.37% of the vote – changing Bennelong from a safe Liberal to a marginal seat. He then stepped up to run as the Greens candidate in 2007 and 2010, winning 5.53% then 7.95% of the vote. He has also contested three NSW state elections.

Wilkie showed what a good candidate fully devoted to electioneering could achieve. Lindsay acknowledges he cannot match that level of commitment because of his family and work responsibilities. He will attend all candidates’ forums and other meetings but won’t be able to take any other leave leading up to the September 7 election.

Lindsay says his number one priority is to get the Greens’ Cate Faerhmann into the Senate, believing her intellect, integrity and energy will make significant contribution.

Secondly, he hopes Greens preferences will help win Bennelong for Jason Yat-­sen Li.  Though Labor in government has lost its way, forgoing principle in many policy areas for short-­term electoral goals, he reasons that a significant Green vote preferencing Labor may encourage a rethink of these policy positions.

With limited resources, the Greens’ campaign in Bennelong campaign will  prioritise climate change, renewable energy, and asylum seekers.

I suggested that voters who rated these issues highly would already be rusted onto the Greens, and an emphasis on school, TAFE and university education might be more likely to win votes from the two major parties. Lindsay said he would not ignore education and the Greens NSW education spokesman John Kaye MLC would advise and and support his campaign.

Lindsay makes no apology for focusing on climate change and renewable energy as critical issues of our time. He questions both major parties’ commitment to actively combating global warming, and is worried that Labor may have merely ticked the climate change box as a job done. The coalition’s stance was illustrated by the scant attention to climate change in Liberal incumbent John Alexander’s letterbox drops and mail-outs, he says.

Voters should also know that, as with the Greens rejection of the Malaysia and PNG solutions, the party would be uncompromising in its commitment to humane processing and resettlement of asylum seekers, he says.

Although the local media didn’t give the Greens much oxygen, Lindsay says local newspapers have regularly published letters from Greens supporters.

I had heard Cate Faehrmann recently claim that unlike the two major parties, the NSW Greens did not accept corporate donations. Lindsay confirmed that was the case for NSW, but that other states did accept financial support from carefully vetted donors.

Dr Lindsay Peters and his family have lived in Bennelong, in Sydney’s northern suburbs, for 25 years.  The businessman spends much of his limited spare time working on behalf of the Greens and has stood in six elections with no chance of being elected.  In our interview, he presented his arguments persuasively and demonstrated a firm grasp of policy issues.

I was left thinking -­ why would anyone want to preference the Greens last?

More Bennelong reports here

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