Internal party tensions have boiled over within the SA Greens, with one former candidate quitting over what he has described as “bullying” and “unethical behaviour”, and an unsuccessful preselection candidate lashing out at the party’s processes.
- Cate Mussared and Matt Farrell have raised separate concerns about the SA Greens
- The party has defended its processes, saying a recent preselection battle was “well run”
- The SA Greens were previously embroiled in preselection tensions in 2018
In separate social media posts, former federal candidate Matt Farrell and state preselection candidate Cate Mussared have gone public with concerns about their treatment inside the minor party.
The comments come in the wake of a preselection battle for second spot on the Greens’ 2022 state election Legislative Council ticket, which was won by staffer Yesha Joshi.
Her opponent, Ms Mussared, took to Facebook to question the process, saying she had lodged an appeal that was accepted by a panel before being rejected by the Greens’ State Council.
“I received the [second] highest first preference votes in the ballot but after other nominees’ preferences were redistributed, I was overtaken by less than three votes for the [number two] position,” she wrote.
“Due to a number of issues I experienced during the preselection process I lodged an appeal.
“The party’s Appeal Panel investigated and made a finding that I was unfairly disadvantaged and that the results of the ballot for the [number two] position were not sound.
“They recommended a run-off ballot. Last weekend, the majority on State Council decided to override these findings and voted against a run-off ballot.”
Ms Mussared, who works as chief of staff to SA Greens parliamentary leader Mark Parnell, said the council voted to endorse Ms Joshi instead.
“Needless to say, this has been a great disappointment for me and not an experience that I’d like to go through again.”
The Greens have never had two Upper House MPs elected at a single election, but the party is hopeful of securing an additional seat after the exit of Nick Xenophon from the SA political scene.
The party has selected Adelaide city councillor and former senator Robert Simms as its lead candidate to replace Mr Parnell, who will retire at the 2022 election.
Ms Mussared declined to expand on her Facebook comments when contacted by the ABC.
On the matter of candidate preselection, Greens co-convenor John Wishart said he stood by the party’s processes.
“Preselections are tough, and it is a stressful process for people,” he said.
“In the end, State Council decided to stick with the original result and that’s valid.
‘Leaving because of the bullying’
Mr Wishart also said he was aware of the resignation of former federal candidate Matt Farrell, who recently raised separate concerns about his treatment within the party.
In a Facebook post published on January 1, Mr Farrell — who ran for the seat of Hindmarsh at the 2019 federal election — said he was “politically innocent” when he joined the Greens six years ago.
“I joined because I believed that the Greens did politics differently. I am leaving because of those Greens that don’t,” he said.
Mr Farrell declined to provide examples, but in his Facebook post said he had been “maligned” and “ostracised” for “asking that we live up to our pillars, constitution [and] charter”.
He said he had personally raised issues with the party on multiple occasions, but claimed “no-one was willing to speak up” for fear of damage to the party’s reputation or “fear of being bullied themselves”.
Mr Farrell went on to praise several members of the Greens — including Mr Parnell and South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young — saying the party was full of “many wonderful people”.
He said he hoped his decision to quit the party would “spark change”.
Mr Wishart said he was aware of Mr Farrell’s position, and that the party did not “like to lose members”.
“The matter is being followed up internally,” he said.
It is not the first-time divisions within the SA Greens have been made public in recent years.
In 2018, Mr Simms challenged Ms Hanson-Young for the top spot on the Greens’ Senate ticket.
Ms Hanson-Young stared down the internal challenge to secure that position, despite Mr Simms writing to Greens members urging them to vote for him instead in the preselection process.
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