Hundreds of members quit NSW Greens amid internal instability

Tensions escalated in November, when Newtown MP Jenny Leong used a speech to Parliament to accuse Mr Buckingham of «sexual violence» against a Greens volunteer in 2011- a claim which he denied and which an independent investigation found could not be substantiated.

Mr Buckingham quit the Greens in December after the party’s state delegates council formally called for him to remove himself from the party’s upper house election ticket.

Fed up: Jeremy Buckingham quit the Greens last December.

Fed up: Jeremy Buckingham quit the Greens last December.

Citing the ongoing civil war, two endorsed candidates have quit the party since Mr Buckingham’s departure.

Eve-lyn Kennedy resigned as the Greens NSW candidate for the western seat of Barwon last week and may join Mr Buckingham’s new independent ticket.


«There is a mighty chasm between most of the people in the Greens and a small, insidious far-left faction full of vitriol,» Ms Kennedy said.

Peter Morris, the Greens NSW candidate for the state seat of Swansea and federal seat of Shortland, quit the party in November.

In a leaked resignation letter, Mr Morris said «for too long the NSW Greens appears to have been at war with itself and I wish to dissociate myself from the unpleasantness involved.»

With less than seven weeks until the state election, the party last week pleaded with members to consider running as a candidate in the inner west Sydney electorate of Strathfield, which Labor holds by a 1.8 per cent margin.

«If you think you can only dedicate a small amount of time to your candidacy, consider nominating as a ‘paper candidate’,» a party email, sent on January 31 to Strathfield Greens members, stated.

«This means you are only required to fill in a few forms and be a name on a How-to-Vote card.»

Sydney’s inner west is considered one of the party’s strongest bases. Greens MPs Jamie Parker and Jenny Leong represent the neighbouring electorates of Balmain and Newtown respectively, while Greens councillors hold five seats of the 15 seats on the Inner West Council.

Greens state campaign manager Andrew Blake said Greens candidates had been preselected in 81 of 93 of seats in NSW, with the remaining seats going through the preselection process.

«Any suggestion that the party is working on both of these elections, from a party perspective, with any sense of dysfunction, is obviously inaccurate and misleading,» Mr Blake said.

According to the latest figures provided by Greens NSW,  its membership has grown by 93 people between November and January, bringing the total to 3404 members as of January.

In January last year, the party had 3796 members.

James Cruz, the Greens candidate for the seat of Maroubra and federal seat of Kingsford-Smith in Sydney’s east, said other members and endorsed candidates may have quit in protest had Mr Buckingham remained in the party.

“I definitely wouldn’t have stood if Jeremy had not left the party. I know several other candidates would not have stood, and colleagues of mine have rejoined the party since he left,» Mr Cruz said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Greens hold four of the 15 seats on the Inner West Council when in fact they hold 5 seats. 

Lisa Visentin is a state political reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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