Greens, Democrats battle over Queensland Senate seat


By Maurice Sibelle

BRISBANE — Queensland voters in the federal election will have some 205 candidates in the lower house and 42 candidates in the upper house to choose from. There are 25 lower house seats and six senate positions to be decided on March 13.

Both the Queensland Greens and the Australian Democrats will field a full ticket. The right-wing Confederate Action Party will also field a full team. Other progressive teams include the Australian Indigenous People's Party, who are standing 10 candidates in the lower house and three for the Senate, and the Democratic Socialists, who are standing two candidates in the lower house. There are 36 independents, and the Natural Law party will field seven candidates in the lower house and a Senate team.

The Australian Indigenous People's Party is strongest in Queensland, where the majority of its candidates will stand. Three AIPP candidates will stand in Western Australia. The Queensland spokesperson for the AIPP, Sam Watson, explained, "We're slowly getting ourselves organised. We haven't had time to get together teams in other states. Our major priority will be the local government elections next year and the next state elections."

The Democratic Socialist candidate for the seat of Brisbane, Susan Price, said, "Unfortunately, we will not have Democratic Socialist besides the name of our candidate in the papers and on the ballot. We'll fix that at the next election. What we will have is a high-profile, intensive campaign in the seats of Brisbane and Griffith."

Queensland Greens state campaign coordinator Malcolm Lewis told Green Left Weekly, "The prospects are good for a Green or Democrat to get elected in the Senate. It's really up to the electorate to decide." Australian Democrat John Woodley was reasonably confident when he spoke to a community group on February 7. Green Left was unable to contact him for a comment.

According to the AGB McNair Bulletin poll conducted on February 5-7, the Democrats look like winning 3% of the vote, and 6% would go to independents. A good proportion of the "independent" vote will go to the Greens.

"It looks like the Greens and Democrats will fight it out for that last position in the Senate from Queensland", commented Dr Coral Wynter, Democratic Socialist candidate for Griffith. "The problem is that all the progressive candidates are running against each other. It will split the progressive vote. There's a good chance that none of the alternative candidates will get enough votes to get funding.

"There is a real need for the left and progressive forces to consider an alliance. With it we may be able to widen the electoral space to accommodate us all. In New Zealand that has happened. Five parties have d it is more popular than the major parties. Unfortunately, we will have to learn the hard way."