Thanks to wearing their hearts on their sleeves, the internal power struggles of the NSW Greens were made public last week.
Specifically, the ongoing spat between MPs Jeremy Buckingham and Lee Rhiannon.
Justin Field MLC, who replaced retired MLC Jan Barham, blurted out on social media last week that Rhiannon was seeking Buckingham’s expulsion from the party following comments made to ABC Four Corners.
Buckingham told Four Corners last year, ‘At every stage where I’ve tried to democratise the NSW Greens, I have been blocked by Lee Rhiannon and her faction.’
‘I’ve pushed for membership plebiscites on key policy issues… I’ve pushed for direct election of office bearers and to have our committees and state delegates conferences opened up with online webcasts.’
Lee replied to Four Corners at the time that those proposals were rejected ‘because of the commitment that we work as a collective organisation…’
At stake is whether a Greens MP can vote by their conscience or should always vote along party lines – ie an agreed party position, or policy.
It’s a issue that has faced political parties since they were invented.
In a very long and waffly statement by Field, he said the complainants against Buckingham – Rhiannon and unnamed others – have from the ‘outset refused mediation.’
He wrote, ‘None of the complainants raised the issues in the complaint directly with Jeremy, the party room or the Parliamentary Liaison Committee before the complaint was lodged…’
‘That an MP selected by the full membership of the party could be expelled by a small committee based on a partisan complaint is anathema to grassroots democracy. The NSW Greens shouldn’t let the manipulation of our processes undermine grassroots democracy.
‘This complaint is another example and one that has significant public and legal consequences for the party.’
But there appears a resolution to the internal factionalism – Jeremy Buckingham said on February 22, ‘G’day everyone, some good news. The complaint that sought to expel me from the Greens has been suspended and the committee that had been set up to hear the complaint has been disbanded. The convenor of the NSW Greens is now seeking to have an independent review of the handling of this particular complaint, as well as a broader review of the entire complaints process’.