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Byron Shire
June 16, 2021

Greens miss out on Ballina council seat

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Chris Dobney

Ballina Greens spokesperson Tony Gilding said the party branch would be ‘doing some navel gazing’ after none of its three candidates were elected to Ballina council.

Ironically, both of the upset candidates that were elected in wards A and C have come into council on the back of Greens preferences.

The successful candidates were: Phil Meehan, Steve McCarthy and Nathan Willis in A ward; sitting councillors Jeff Johnson, Sharon Cadwallader and Keith Williams in B ward; and Ben Smith, Eoin Johnston and Sharon Parry in C ward.

The Greens had been hoping to see Gail Mensinga elected in C ward on the back of re-elected mayor David Wright’s third preferences. But the preferences exhausted before reaching her.

Former Greens mayoral candidate Jeff Johnson said if his old party had recommended him for mayor, and he was elected instead of Cr Wright, that would have seen B ward Greens candidate Nathan Cooper automatically elected to council, given there were only four candidates standing in that ward.

‘I was very surprised to see on the Greens how-to-vote card that they recommended David Wright for mayor,’ he said.

Cr Cadwallader said she was also surprised with the Greens’ decision.

‘I gave Nathan Cooper my preferences and received nothing in return,’ she said.

‘The numbers between me and Jeff [Johnson] were closer than today’s Northern Star article suggested,’ she added.

Wise in hindsight

But Mr Gilding said, ‘we’re often wise in hindsight’.

‘I seriously wonder how many people would have read the print down the bottom of our how-to-vote card on who we recommended for mayor. I don’t think it’s that black and white.’

He added as many as 50 per cent of mayoral votes exhausted before going to a second preference.

‘Of course we’re disappointed not to be there but that’s democracy.

‘There’s a wide range of diverse winners. We wish them luck and look forward to contesting the next election,’ Mr Gilding said.

Unexpected wins

Echonetdaily understands Dr Parry was shocked to discover she was even in the running.

Her campaign emphasised environmental issues and opposition to the Alstonville Boral bitumen plant.

‘It must surely be possible to support an expansion of the shire’s population without permitting our glorious landscapes and beaches to be lost to future generations,’ she told Echonetdaily.

Retired baker and amateur basketballer Steve McCarthy staked his claim on cleaning up the Richmond River and building a full-size basketball stadium in Ballina to attract competitions to the town.

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  1. I, for one, could not support Ballina Greens this election due to their thought provoking how-to-vote recommendations. Preferencing ‘Universal Med’ devotee, friend of Kevin Hogan and Lismore resident Ray Karam in A Ward, big mistake. Recommending David Wright for Mayor, over more greener candidates, big mistake. The Greens deserve to be elected, but only when they don’t seem to act so recklessly. This Ballina Council election had them revealing some odd bedfellows.

  2. “Tony Gilding said the party branch would be ‘doing some *naval* gazing’” …

    And just why would they be gazing at the navy?

  3. yes – I agree with BOTH – comments above – VOTED green all my life and in shock that THE Greens got us a conservative – right wing council in Ballina ??? what happened to the old slogan THINK LOCALLY ACT GLOBALLY ???? – sad day for all enviromental + community – issues in Ballina – David Wright – nice man – like him – but not a green BONE in his body – after all he signed off on The HIGHWAY through Ballinas Koalas – AND other endangered species – supported by the GREENS – can SOMEONE explain this ???

    • Interesting that a mayor “without a green bone” in his body is putting out a cycling plan for public consultation, that actually builds on infrastructure that is already better than any in nearby “green” councils. Interesting too to find the Lismore Sustainable Transport Group’s Commuter Bus Plan 2016, which is proposing better commuter bus services to get cars off the corridors from Lismore to Ballina and to the Bay is supported by the “conservative” Ballina Shire but not the ostensibly Green Byron Shire. And interesting too that the Greens were happy to tout their support for cycling in Ballina Shire but did not go to the Council election with any cycling plans or proposals. Meanwhile for public transport, the Green candidates seemed more interested in supporting a rail service that does nothing for Ballina, and would only provide a very expensive and limited service to the minority of the region’s people who live along the line. And what is Tamara Smith saying or doing to get the recommendations of the region’s Transport Plan to fruition? Why would anyone who actually cares about active transport be impressed by the irrelevance of the Green’s record in the region and its dearth of policy proposals for Ballina Shire.

  4. Gladly the voters of Ballina were smarter than their counterparts in Lismore. The Greens are a declining force all across the country, and I’m happy to see them turning in on themselves.

  5. Maybe the Greens should re-learn the art of developing policies for environmental protection? Study Steve McCarthy’s campaign technique


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