With the betting agencies putting the Greens candidate ahead of Labor in Sydney's inner west seat of Marrickville, Labor is running scared.
But rather than debate the issues, the ALP machine is doing its best to smear the Greens.
At a 120-strong candidates' meeting hosted by the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on February 23, Greens candidate and Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne was asked if she would agree to council “boycotting China” if asked to do so by a Tibetan constituent.
The questioner made it clear he didn't agree with Byrne's support for Marrickville council's decision to sign up to the Palestinian call for a global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel last year.
Byrne replied that she was proud of the council's stand in support of Palestinian rights and added that the council had not been approached by Tibetan community for council to do anything other than fly the Tibetan flag on their national day as a gesture of support for their struggle for self-determination
Yet, a February 26 Daily Telegraph article was headlined: “Greens threaten China boycott.”
Luke Foley, Labor's campaign spokesperson, told the Telegraph: “This is one of the most destructive policies announced by any mayor in Australia's history."
Byrne described Labor as “increasingly desperate”.
“There is absolutely no plan or intention to boycott China,” she said that day.
It was clearly a set-up by the ALP machine to try to smear the Green mayor.
The real story here is that the Labor party has been under pressure from supporters of Israel to reverse the council's decision on the BDS.
Yet, all five Green councillors, all four Labor councillors and one independent councilor supported the motion.
Carmel Tebbutt, deputy Premier and Labor MP for Marrickville, made a point of stating at the candidates' meeting that she did not agree with the council's support for BDS.
She also tried to stop the chairperson — Eva Cox — from asking an anti-BDS speaker to finish up and ask a question. Tebbutt defended the person, arguing that her “question” (it was a speech) had been “placed on notice”.
It is understood that some of the Labor councillors and rank-and-file members are furious with the Labor machine for its attacks over BDS.
As the countdown to March 26 begins, we can expect a lot more dirty tricks from Labor as the party faces an electoral wipeout, including possibly in a seat it has held since 1910.