21 October 2013

Watermelons gain power in Greens

From: The Australian, October 22, 2013, by: Joe Kelly:     

Lee Rhiannon

HARD Left Greens senator Lee Rhiannon and her forces, dubbed the watermelons faction, have seized greater control of the NSW branch in a move some fear could influence the future direction of the party.
Hall Greenland

Hall Greenland, the failed Greens federal candidate in Anthony Albanese's Sydney seat of Grayndler, was elected state convener at the NSW Greens' annual general meeting at the weekend.
David Shoebridge

Controversial NSW upper-house member David Shoebridge also won an influential position, elected the parliamentary representative to the Greens' national conference, which develops the party's policy platform.

One Greens source said Mr Greenland and Mr Shoebridge were part of the watermelon faction - green on the outside and red on the inside - rather than the "tree-hugging camp". They placed a greater emphasis on grassroots activism rather than on a centralised statewide approach to campaigning.

Along with Senator [Lee] Rhiannon, [Hall Greenland and David Shoebridge are] seen to be sympathetic to the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel...

The Greens' national conference, which will be closed to the media, will be in Brisbane next month, with Mr Shoebridge attending as the sole parliamentary delegate for NSW.

A Labor observer said the results of the ballot would not help the Greens and would instead feed factional divisions in the minor party.... "If we see the Greens going into these kinds of things they will no longer be seen as a boutique environment party. There's a fight about the future. It's actually an existential fight between the red greens and the green greens."

Senator Rhiannon refused to comment on the elections last night. Mr Greenland and Mr Shoebridge could not be contacted last night.

In the race for convener, Mr Greenland had a convincing win over the more moderate failed NSW Greens senate candidate Cate Faehrmann as well as the Greens candidate for the seat of Newcastle, Michael Osborne.

He won 20 delegates from local voting groups against the 14 won by Ms Faehrmann and a further four won by Mr Osborne, although there two abstentions.

Mr Greenland has denied being a "far-out leftist' but in an article last year on his left-wing blog "Watermelon", he said the federal Greens leadership was "veering to the Right, driven by electoralism and an attachment to neo-liberalism".

Mr Greenland supports Palestinian self-determination as he does for the people of Tibet and Papua. However, he has acknowledged he would pay more attention to the BDS campaign if it gained more popular support.

Mr Shoebridge, however, has attracted attention for his support of the BDS movement in defiance of the party's federal opposition to the movement.

Although Greens leader Christine Milne has confirmed the minor party does not support the BDS movement, Mr Shoebridge joined a rally at the University of Sydney in August in support of "the right to boycott Israel on campus". Mr Shoebridge also attended the annual Socialist Alliance conference in Sydney last year to deliver "greetings" from the NSW Greens.

In wining the ballot to be the Greens parliamentary delegate at the national conference, Mr Shoebridge knocked his parliamentary colleague Jeremy Buckingham out of contention.

Mr Buckingham has been welcomed into NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel in a clear sign the issue has created divisions within the NSW party.

Mr Greenland's role as convener is the most senior organisational position in the state. He will take over from James Ryan, who was elected to the position of secretary, while Carol Vernon was elected assistant secretary.