The West

Shark cull helped us: Greens
Greens leader Christine Milne, left, Senator Rachel Siewert and Senator Scott Ludlam. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

The Greens claim Scott Ludlam’s thumping Senate win was partly because of simmering community anger over the State Government’s shark cull.

Senator Ludlam yesterday praised the grassroots operation that helped secure his return to Canberra, claiming it as a win for people power over the big-spending campaigns of Clive Palmer and the major parties.

He polled the highest Senate primary vote by a Green in the history of the State, making him one of the biggest winners in the
Senate election re-run.

Senator Ludlam said his win was a damning indictment of the Abbott Government.

“The Liberals said this was going to be a referendum on the carbon and mining tax and the Liberal vote went backwards,” Senator Ludlam said. “All Mr Abbott brought was slogans and we have sent him packing.”

The Greens claimed to have been inundated by voters who would usually support the Liberals but backed the Greens in anger over Premier Colin Barnett’s shark-kill program.

They say the vote is the clearest evidence yet the cull does not have majority community support.

“I was amazed. I was in a very conservative booth yesterday,” Greens senator Rachel Siewert said.

“A large number of people were coming up and talking about sharks and specifically voting Green because of the sharks.”

Senator Ludlam was unapologetic about a parliamentary speech he gave in which he accused Tony Abbott of being homophobic. The speech became a hit on YouTube.

“Mr Abbott’s got broad shoulders, he can dish it out,” Senator Ludlam said. “I think if you believe in discrimination remaining on the statute books on the basis of sexuality, if you declare as Mr Abbott has done on a number of occasions that he’s
uncomfortable around gay people and if you tolerate someone like Cory Bernardi in your party room it meets my definition (of homophobia).”

Senator Ludlam looked to have lost his seat by just 14 votes at last year’s election but was returned after a re-count.

He had to recontest his seat after the Australian Electoral Commission admitted it lost 1370 ballot papers.

At last year’s election, the Greens polled 9.8 per cent of the vote. The Greens won 15.9 per cent of the vote at this weekend’s election.

Premier Colin Barnett conceded the shark cull had been a rallying point for Greens voters.

“There’s no doubt the Greens campaigned on the shark mitigation policy,” he said. “I wonder if we’ll hear much about it now that the election’s over.”

The West Australian

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