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Greens begin posturing for Newtown

Former Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne

Former Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne is expected to stand for preselection as Greens candidate for the newly-created state seat of Newtown.

The Marrickville electoral district will be abolished for the 2015 state election, instead replaced by two new districts: Newtown and Summer Hill. The Greens are expected to poll well in Newtown, having almost snared the seat of Marrickville at the 2011 state election.

“On the two-party preferred count, there was a difference of only 676 votes between ALP and the Greens [in Marrickville],” said Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi.

“This area is now amongst the most environmentally aware and socially progressive areas in Sydney.”

Traditionally Marrickville has been an ALP stronghold, but the split has seen the Greens stand as front-runners for Newtown, one of the leftist leaning suburbs in Australia.

“The next election in 2015 is a great opportunity for the people of Newtown to elect a representative who shares their values,” said Ms Faruqi.

“[These include] values such as marriage equality, action on climate change, worker rights and investing in our public services like schools and hospitals.”

The Greens candidate will be chosen by a grassroots preselection process, where any party member can nominate. All local members then vote to select the successful candidate.

“Among the hundreds of Greens members in Newtown, there are a whole range of highly qualified and passionate Greens who would make great MPs and be advocates for their communities in parliament,” Ms Faruqi said.

Ms Byrne is expected to declare her intention to stand for Newtown preselection. Ms Byrne did not respond to requests for comment, but she is understood to be interested in running for the seat.

The majority of Greens politicians refused to comment on preselection for Newtown – including all Marrickville Greens councillors – in an indication the party does not want the process played out in the media.

A former Marrickville Mayor, Ms Byrne was a Greens Councillor in the precinct from 2004 to 2012.

Ms Byrne’s local ties and connection to the district began in a bedsit in Newtown with her Irish migrant parents. She is currently raising three daughters in Marrickville and has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney.

Ms Faruqi said the Greens will use the seat of Newtown to represent community concerns.

“The Greens will continue to speak out for the community of NSW and our environment,” she said.

“This will include campaigning with the community for protecting public services such as TAFE, and redirecting the wasteful $11.5 billion being poured into the WestConnex into an effective and efficient public transport solution.

“[We will be] pushing for a move to 100 per cent renewable energy, ending CSG mining and ensuring that planning decisions are made on the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development.”

Preselection for the seat is expected to open early next year.

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