Lismore's 'clean' election campaign erupts into war of words
LISMORE Greens candidate Sue Higginson has accused a minor party of a staging a publicity stunt in order to gain attention in one of the country's most marginal seats in the lead up to the election.
Leader of the Sustainable Australia party, William Bourke, drove his party's voter van into Lismore and said "interference by a Greens staffer" had led to their initial candidate taking his name off the ballot.
Mr Bourke said the candidate was "convinced not to run".
"It is very frustrating for us," he said.
Mr Bourke said his party had now managed to get David Taylor on board, but, as a full time carer, he was unable to be on the hustings.
That was why Mr Bourke decided to head to Lismore to make the party's presence felt in the lead up to the election.
"Our initial candidate was told putting up a SAP candidate in Lismore would split the Green vote," he said.
"It is very disappointing given we are now running 21 candidates for the Legislative Council, and 55 candidates for the Legislative Assembly across Australia - the most of any minor party."
But Ms Higginson said Mr Bourke's claims were "disingenuous" and a "complete untruth".
"Nobody from NSW Greens, the Lismore Greens, or my office, has had any contact with anybody from the Sustainable Australia Party since 2014," she said.
Endorsed by prominent businessman Dick Smith, Mr Bourke said the Sustainable Australia platform was centrist.
"We are strong on environment, anti-over-development and anti-over-immigration. We also believe in better planning to secure jobs with a more diverse economy," he said.
Ms Higginson said the war of words was disappointing given, up until this point, "it had been such a clean race between the local candidates, and now these blow-ins have come telling a complete untruth".
"I am concerned at how loose this information is, as we actually made a decision not to have any contact with the SAP," she said.
"For a minor party to come in and ask the community to vote one for them is to throw a vote for a local candidate straight in bin.
"It is actually anti-local and ill-informed.
"Lismore is one of the most marginal seats in the country. It is disingenuous to use the publicity given to this electorate to build your own party profile when there are genuine community candidates on the ground who are in the race to represent the region."
Mr Bourke told The Northern Star the Greens were seen as too far to the left.
"A lot of the electorate does not feel comfortable voting for them. We offer another choice," he said.