The newly-formed Stop CSG Party held its first face-to-face meeting in Lismore on Saturday.
The party evolved last month via email, internet and telephone to contest the next federal election, and more than 30 party members turned up to the Lismore Workers Club to discuss policy, strategy and nominations for candidature.
Party spokesperson Gordon Fraser-Quick was happy with the turnout saying it demonstrated the commitment of CSG opponents to, ‘take the politics out of CSG.’
‘We are an independent party not aligned to any of the major parties – the point that we’re making is if you’ve been let down by Labor and confused by the Coalition, and some go green at the gills thinking of voting for The Greens, well we are a legitimate alternative,’ he said.
‘That’s been proven here because the people at the meeting were ex-National Party members, ex-Greens members and ex-Labor members, as well as people who have never been a member of any party in their life.
‘We’re fielding candidates in all the states and territories, we have two nominees for NSW so far and people who have expressed interest in being candidates in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
‘We’ve got a functional executive and a national launch tour occurring over June and July so it’s all happening. All indications are at this stage that the party will get legs fairly quickly.’
The Greens candidate for Page, Desley Banks, was unperturbed by the arrival of the new environmental issue-based party, saying she welcomed any party that opposed coal seam gas.
‘Look anyone who can stop coal seam gas gets my vote, I’m not too worried about it, the more the merrier. The more people fighting against coal seam gas in the northern rivers the better it is for us I feel,’ she said.
‘That’s what democracy is all about. Everyone has the right to start their own party and with a cause like this one I can understand why there are people prepared to stand. There are people who won’t vote Green so if they can get votes against coal seam gas I’m all for them.
‘I’d like Janelle (Saffin) to stand up and start voting against some of these things if she’s serious about stopping coal seam gas, and I think that’s what people think as well.’
Meanwhile, veteran political commentator and Echonetdaily scribe, Mungo MacCallum, did not see the party making a big impact in the September poll.
‘While it may have a following in some areas, it is most unlikely to make an impact nationally,’ he said.
He added that the fledgling party’s best hope, albeit a faint hope, of being a nuisance was in the Senate in NSW.
‘It might do better to wait for the next state election and try to make an impression in Lismore or Northern Tablelands,’ he said.
Mungo also doubted the Stop CSG Party would impact on The Greens vote.
‘Presumably it will preference them and its vote will flow through,’ he said.
‘Frankly I think the anti-CSG movement works better as a popular pressure group than it is likely to as a formal party — it attracts more people and its message is certainly getting through.
‘As a generalisation, single issue parties seldom survive unless they are built around a well-known and charismatic personality. Otherwise their influence is limited to trading preferences in the hope that they just might briefly emerge at the top of the pile.’