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Greens Win Cunningham In Historic By-Election

Cunningham Goes Green

9.50pm – The Australian Greens candidate, Michael Organ, has created electoral history by winning the previously Labor-held electorate of Cunningham in today’s by-election. With 78.34% of the votes counted, the two-party-preferred count has the Greens on 52.22% to the ALP’s 47.78%. It is unlikely that late votes will turn this result around.

Organ will join three other independents in the House of Representatives – Peter Andren (Calare), Tony Windsor (New England) and Bob Katter (Kennedy) – and becomes the first member of a minor party to win a seat in the lower house since World War II.

The ALP candidate, Sharon Bird, an outsider imposed on the Cunningham ALP by the right-wing controllers at Sydney’s Sussex Street head office, leads the primary vote count with 38.38%, a loss of 5.81% since last November’s general election. The Greens have 23.53% of the primary vote, whilst the highly-fancied union-based independent, Peter Wilson, has polled only 10.41%. David Moulds, an independent candidate who is also a member of the Liberal Party, has 13.61%.

Greens On Track To Capture First House Seat; ALP Vote Plummets; Crean’s Leadership Faces Test

Oct 19 – 7.45pm AEST – Michael Organ, the Australian Greens candidate in Cunningham, is on track to create Australian electoral history by capturing the seat from the ALP in today’s by-election. The electorate, based on Wollongong, has been a traditionally safe ALP seat, but with 20.24% of the vote counted, the Greens have 58.58% of the two-party-preferred vote. Counting is continuing.

If Organ wins, the Greens will not only win their first-ever House of Representatives seat, eclipsing the Australian Democrats, who have never achieved it in 25 years, he will also represent a trebling of the Greens membership in the Federal Parliament over the past year. Tasmanian Senator Bob Brown was joined in the Upper House in July by Senator Kerry Nettle from New South Wales.

The ALP’s loss of the traditional working-class electorate will deepen the angst in the party and may threaten Simon Crean’s leadership. The ALP’s primary vote has slipped to 36.51%, a swing of 7.26% over last year’s general election result. It appears that the events in Bali have had no effect on the outcome of the by-election. Indeed, the strong vote for the Greens may well be interpreted as an anti-war vote, although disillusionment with the ALP is surely the major factor.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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