Liberals and Labor launch attacks on Independents and Greens with 3 days to go to election
It’s into negative territory for the two major parties – Liberal and Labor – just 3 days out from the Hawkesbury Council election as they pick on independent and Greens candidates rather than talking about their own policies.
Labor’s number 2 candidate, current councillor Amanda Kotlash, launched a scathing attack on the independents and Greens in a video on social media yesterday in which she said, with no apparent irony, “social media is full of chatter about the role of political parties in local government”.
She then went on to blast independents and the single Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler for voting the same way over this last five-year council term.
“So it seems we have reached that point in the campaign when, devoid of actual policy, the major parties attack the Greens and Independents,” said Cllr Danielle Wheeler this morning.
In her video, Cllr Kotlash said she “really disagree[d] with the notion of members of political parties being banned from running for office in local government”.
Independents certainly have said on numerous occasions they believe party politics shouldn’t play a part in local councils, but we’ve heard of no calls by local candidates to ban them.
Cllr Kotlash says Greens and independent councillors voted the same way on 98% of issues in the last 5 years. Out of 592 items of business, they voted the same on 582 occasions, she said, adding, “I’m not making this up”.
“Mary Lyons-Buckett, you know, the woman from People not Parties, and the only Green party councillor [Danielle Wheeler] have voted the same way on 98% of issues,” she said.
“Really the Greens party should give Mary-Lyons-Buckett [leading independent and current Deputy Mayor] honorary membership,” she said.
She also said in local government, “there is no us and them.” She said the 12 councillors are a team and that there was “no left and right”.
“What needs to happen is that we all need to be good decision makers,” she said.
“If a position has merit we will vote for it.
“A lot of independent candidates quite often bring issues they want to protest about,” she said, adding, “I’ll leave that there but I’ll just say we are not a party of protestors. This is not the way to govern. Labor governs.”
Meanwhile, at the same time, the Liberals – main candidates Patrick Conolly and Sarah Richards – put out a similar attack on their Facebook page against the Greens and independents, using the same numbers as Labor’s Kotlash.
“If all you have to elevate yourselves is to try and bring others down then I think that shows voters where your priorities are”
said Cllr Lyons-Buckett this morning in answer to the Liberal-Labor attack.
On their Facebook post the Liberals said, “There are some tickets that are Green-aligned candidates pretending to be middle-of-the-road independents.
“Mary Lyons-Buckett (of the purple "People Not Parties Group [sic] ) has voted with The Greens on 582 of the 591 votes Council has taken this term - since votes were recorded,” said the Liberals.
“If you don't want a Greens-controlled Council, you need to vote Liberal!” they said.
One comment from a member of the public on the Liberal’s post said, “The same can be said with upcoming independents in Group A, D and J who have members registered with Liberal party or have history of being Liberal at some point as prior councillors or even family who once were politicians. Like minded people everywhere it appears in this upcoming council election.”
Cllr Lyons-Buckett told the Post, “We all work with the community’s best interest at the forefront of our decision making. This degree of pettiness is not what our community expects, nor deserves.”
Here at the Post, we’ve had a look at the Council voting figures for the period June 25, 2019 to July 13, 2021 as a snapshot of what’s been going on.
Before June 2019 they only recorded voting on planning matters so going back further would have been an incomplete comparison.
Liberal Mayor Patrick Conolly has been in the big chair from September 22, 2020, though on June 8 this year Deputy Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett chaired a meeting (the 4 Liberals and independent Pete Reynolds were all absent for that one) in which she used the Mayoral casting vote – essentially giving her 2 votes – on 3 occasions during that meeting.
During that period when Patrick Conolly has been Mayor, there were 255 item votes recorded.
On 29 occasions Labor and Liberal voted together, while everyone else – independents and the single Greens councillor – voted together.
The Mayor’s casting vote - from September 22, giving him an extra vote - was used a massive 24 times to get items over the line. They all occurred in 6 of his first 7 meetings.
So the casting vote was used 72.41% of the time when Liberal and Labor voted together.
153 item votes were unanimous (all councillors voted the same way) - that’s 60% of the time – so a fair degree of overall agreement there across council.
Another 21 times the vote was unanimous except for independent John Ross
4 times the Liberals opposed everyone else
48 times the votes were split
On only 11.375% of the time did the independents and Greens vote together, while 18.82% of the time the vote was split across “alignments”, so various voting positions were taken by councillors, not always in those blocks of Lib-Lab and indies and Greens.
Cllr Wheeler told the Post today, “We’ll just keep doing what we do - working hard for the community.”
And Cllr Lyons-Buckett said, “I’m not surprised by this form of attack, and it comes in the absence of either of these parties putting out to the community what they will be doing to hear the community’s voice and deliver in the future.
“It smacks of irony and hypocrisy because they say ‘let’s all work together, let’s all be nice ’ then they descend into this sort of attack and bizarre ‘statistical analysis’.
“I have no time for it - I am out engaging with voters about why we believe people should be looking at in the people that are standing for Council, not simply voting for a party.
“I have worked with many councillors on different issues and without knowing
what we have been making decisions on there’s not really any value in presenting a statistic.
“Many votes are unanimous.”
Cllr Lyons-Buckett also said she was proud to have worked with councillors of the calibre of Cllr Wheeler, as well as most of the other independents.
“She is one of the hardest working councillors ever and not once has she ever asked or suggested any of us support anything related to the Greens!” said Cllr Lyons-Buckett
“We all work with the community’s best interest at the forefront of our decision making. This degree of pettiness is not what our community expects nor deserves.
“I am greatly enthused by the amount of interest voters are showing in carefully considering who can best represent them in the coming Council term,” she said.
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