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April 21, 2021

Ballina councillor quits Greens to run as independent

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Cr Jeff Johnson has resigned from the Greens to run in the state election as an independent. (file pic)
Cr Jeff Johnson has resigned from the Greens to run in the state election as an independent. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Ballina shire councillor Jeff Johnson has resigned from the NSW Greens party to have a crack as an independent in next month’s state election.

The announcement came as a surprise to Greens candidate Tamara Smith, but she admitted she had heard some ‘rumblings’.

‘As fas as I’m concerned it’s only weeks to the election and I’ve been campaigning for the past eight months,’ Ms Smith said.

‘This election is about more than personalities so we’ll just soldier on.’

Cr Johnson told Echonetdaily he had been encouraged to run as an independent by people from across the political spectrum.

‘Representing a political party divides a community, yet standing as an independent I have the potential to unite the community with a sole focus on what’s best moving forward for this region, what’s best for the community and region,’ he said.

Cr Johnson confirmed he had resigned from the Greens party to make his run.

‘I have resigned from the Greens. It was made clear that sanding as an independent was incompatible with remaining a member of the party,’ he said.

‘Obviously some people will be quite angry but I’m happy standing as an independent because I feel it’s the best way forward.

‘The nature of politics are divisive and when you’re representing a political party the majority of the community don’t support that party so all your ideas and vision get seen through the prism of ‘’we don’t support that philosophy’’.

‘Party politics is a partisan business and the problem with party politics is that people are blinkered in the way in which they view the ideas of their party political opponents, and they look at things through that prism and don’t give ideas the opportunity they deserve.

‘The ideas raised by independents are judged on their merits. I’m asking everyone to judge me on the merits of the ideas that I put forward.’

Cr Johnson said coal seam gas and the proposed route of the Pacific Highway upgrade between Broadwater and Ballina would be key issues.

‘No political party should take the seat of Ballina for granted, even if they have held it for 50 years,’ he said.

‘Standing as an Independent will increase my effectiveness in getting the best outcomes for Ballina and the wider region.

‘This election is about who you trust to represent the interests of our community.

‘As a long-term resident with a young family I will continue to work to protect our precious natural environment while supporting sustainable growth and prosperity for residents and businesses.

‘The Nationals’ ongoing support for coal-seam-gas development in the northern rivers is unforgivable. They deserve to be put last on election day.

‘I am absolutely committed to protecting the region from coal-seam gas and will work for the declaration of a gasfield-free northern rivers.’

Cr Johnson said while voters would make their own choices about preferences, he urged people to place the Nationals last on their ballots.

Others to have nominated for the seat of Ballina include Labor’s Paul Spooner, the Greens’ Tamara Smith, the Nationals’ Kris Beavis, and Christian Democrat Party member Vivien Scott.

The election will be held on March 28.


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  1. Jeff,
    I am with you Jeff, be Independent as it says that “The Party” does not smother you.
    The Greens should go back in history and see what they were before they became a political party. They prided themselves in NOT being a political party. Now they are party to being a political party and part of the political process where freedom to think democratically and to act democratically is thwarted and discouraged.
    The Party, that is ‘the thing’ of politics, that is what is held aloft on high as the mantra and not democracy.

  2. Great – splitting progressive votes, many of which will exhaust, whilst announcing absolutely no new ideas of his own. Way to ‘go’?

  3. Congratulations Jeff – Independents are the way back to having our democracy (the people speak). Party members represent the wishes of their parties, and have to continually get the okay from Sydney on any decisions for our region. Last I heard we were Northern NSW not Sydney and last I saw we get no representation whatsoever from Parties, good luck Jeff!

  4. Jeff Johnson please reconsider this. Even with the best will in the world you will potentially take votes from both the Greens and Labor. Why, with that knowledge would you act to ruin the possibility of a progressive candidate getting up in Ballina. After the Rose Wanchap debacle on Byron you must realise there is a great wariness among voters here for people who think they are getting someone with a Green sensibility.
    I understand that there is a great desire for non-party aligned candidates but this gesture is ill-considered and will only serve the interests of the Nationals. Democracy is still a numbers game. What can you possibly achieve by seizing a few votes? Please reconsider. For all of us.

  5. And who will you direct your preferences to once you have been excluded? It’l have to be a Party, or all those votes will be exhausted and useless.

  6. Fair enough Jeff. The Greens are redundant, they just play politics like every other political party. The core values they encompassed initially are no longer their main concern, people who vote for them think they are but they’re wrong. The are also incapable of managing a parliament and running a state or country, so voting for them is more of a protest vote than a vote for a party that can actually run a government. Independents with a much broader understanding of community needs and managing a state parliament are the way to go.

  7. While I support Jeff’s stance running as an independent, I am deeply concerned as other writers above have pointed out that all this will do is water down the progressive vote and increase the risk of the Nationals holding the seat. This election is a huge opportunity to boot the Nationals out and take a strong stance against CSG and other issues where the Nationals have simply not been listening to local constituents. If the Nationals win again Jeff, I think you will have to shoulder some of the blame.

  8. Hmmm… 5 wks before the election, Jeff. Not a great strategy. Hope the nats don’t benefit from your late conversion to independance and demoncracy. And to Geoffrey Suthon. On what grounds do you slander the greens? Where is the evidence that they are ‘incapable of managing a parliament or running a state or country’. If the standard is the current high level of corruption and mismanagement that is endemic at federal, state and local level, then the greens couldn’t do much worse than the two major parties.

  9. Geoff just doesn’t like the Greens because they are trying to keep Brunswick Heads low-key and his caravan blocks public access to the foreshore.


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