Support for the Greens has dived in the electorate of Grayndler, with incumbent Labor member Anthony Albanese on track to fend off a challenge from former Leichhardt Councillor Hall Greenland.
A Guardian Lonergan poll conducted last week found the Greens’ vote had collapsed to 22 per cent, down from the 26 per cent Sam Byrne received at the 2010 election.
The same poll put Mr Albanese’s primary vote on 47 per cent and Liberal candidate Cedric Spencer on 28 per cent.
In an interview with the Inner West Independent, Mr Greenland said he would be surprised if the Greens vote went backwards, but admitted that the party faced several problems.
One was that “since 2008, the country has become more conservative”. He also said a recovery within Labor’s rank-and-file had buoyed his competitor. And the departure of Bob Brown, “a legendary figure”, was bound to have some impact, Mr Greenland said.
“The feedback we’re getting is positive and encouraging, but the Greens started behind the eight-ball because we started with local government election results which saw the Greens vote drop by 25 per cent.”
If the poll results are reflected on September 7, Mr Albanese would retain the seat with a 66 per cent two-party preferred margin, the Guardian Australia reported.
Despite the commonly-held theory that the hung parliament damaged the Greens electoral standing, Mr Greenland believes it was a positive experience for the country.
“Minority government did things like Disability [Care] Australia, it made some kind of start on improving funding for public schools,” he said. “I’m not someone who thinks that the last parliament was a disaster – it was the best we could get.”
The man in second place, Mr Spencer, told the Inner West Independent that reducing cost-of-living pressures and easing congestion were the most important priorities for the electorate. The former would be achieved by abolishing the carbon tax, while the construction of the WestConnex Motorway would assist with the latter, he said.
Both challengers named the construction of more affordable housing as a matter of import. For Mr Spencer, national rather than local solutions are required.
“The Coalition’s plans to cut taxes, pay down debt and strengthen the economy will pave the way for more housing to be built to solve the national housing shortage,” he said. “We will work closely with the states and territories and make any Commonwealth-state housing agreements more measurable and accountable.”