Otway Ranges Environment Network



Print This Page

Greens candidates preference deals help
Otway native forest woodchipping industry.

About midway through the 2002 election campaign, the Greens political party forest spokesperson Marcus Ward became the spokesperson for a breakaway group of about a dozen Green candidates who refused to preference the ALP because of its forest policy.  

These Greens candidates, supported by The Wilderness Society (TWS), did not want to allocated preferences to the ALP; they justified this by arguing the protection of old growth forest in East Gippsland was more important than stopping logging in the forests along the Great Ocean Road.

TWS and the Australian Conservation Foundation(ACF) put out a press release on the 9 November with a headline promoting the Liberal forest policy. With the Greens candidates not allocating preferences in about a dozen seats, it was clear to OREN that TWS and the Greens were prepared to help the Liberal Party in the election if the ALP did not meet their much more extensive forest demands. This was despite Liberal Party's policy to clearfell log the Otways until at least the year 2020 under the West Regional Forest Agreement.

Geelong Advertiser
Sat 16 November 2002. Page 3.
Crucial preferences hinge on forest deal
Greens ultimatum
Wade Pearce and AAP


Greens environment spokesman and candidate for Macedon, Marcus Ward, said yesterday preferences from the Victorian state election would flow to Labor in at least 13 finely balanced seats outside the Geelong region provided the Government promised to protect old growth forests.

If Labor did not respond, the Greens would make no direction on preferences, he said.

Marcus Ward. Greens candidate 2002 Victorian State election.


In backroom negotiations between The Wilderness Society, Australian Conservation Foundation and Premier Steve Bracks, the Premier offered to protect some East Gippsland old growth forest. However the Government's accepted definition of 'old growth' was not the same definition of 'old growth' demanded by these large conservation groups which would have included significantly more forest. Bracks eventually got frustrated with the conservation groups 'no compromise position' and refused to protect any more than Goolengook in East Gippsland which had already been announced.

Some Greens Party members became publicly unhappy with the lobbying by Marcus Ward and expressed public concern that withholding preferences in the pursuit of an 'all or nothing' outcome for old growth in East Gippsland could backfire and help the Liberal Party and Otway native forest logging industry.

Geelong Advertiser.
Sat 16 November 2002. Page 6.
Crucial preferences hinge on forest deal
Greens ultimatum
Wade Pearce and AAP

A POWER struggle has erupted within Geelong Greens over whether to preference Labor in the November 30 election.
Sources close to the Greens said there was concern a push to offer preferences to Labor on the condition the Government promised to protect old growth forests would backfire.
Geelong Greens secretary Bruce Murray said party members would meet on Monday to decide preferences in Geelong seats.
Mr Murray, the candidate for Geelong Province, would not confirm reports a key member of the Greens' campaign team fiercely opposed to Labor had resigned yesterday over the preferences tussle.
"We've got many refugees from the Labor Party in our ranks and I think they're dissatisfied with Labor in various ways," Mr Murray said.
 Sources within the Greens said a failure to direct preferences could boost the Liberal Party, which opposes Labor's policy to end logging in Otways native forests.

After TWS and the ACF refused Premier Brack’s offer to protect some old growth forests in East Gippsland, Marcus Ward announced that he and about a dozen Green Party candidates would assist the Liberal Party in the State election by not directing preferences.  

The Green Party candidate for South Barwon, who refused to preference ALP candidate Michael Crutchfield, publically admitted after the election that the decision backfired.

Marcus Ward made it clear that his strategy to withhold preferences was really about differentiating the Greens Party from rival political parties in the pursuit of power.

The Age
Thursday  21 November 2002
Tax the rich, get a tram: it’s the Greens
Gay Alcorn


There is also a tough side [to the Greens party]. The candidate for Macedon, Marcus Ward, leads a group of 11 candidates threatening to offer a split ticket to voters - Labor 'would get Greens preferences on one side of the card and the Liberals on the other - unless Labor bans all logging in old-growth forests.

He concedes that the ALP is "a bit" better on forests than the Liberals, but Ward says Steve Bracks once promised to end all old growth logging, and has reneged.

"Labor is cranky because they consider Macedon crucial, but they have shat on our face for three years and they're surprised that we're holding our ground?" says Ward.

"I'm annoyed when people say we are bargaining our preferences. You bet we are. We are in it to change policies; we're not like the Democrats keeping the bastards honest."


In the end Marcus Ward and the rebel Green Party candidates did not recommend preferences, which in effect was marginally helping the Liberal Party.

After the preferences were decided, the Liberal party ran a full page advertisement in the Herald Sun claiming the ALP and Greens had done a preference deal to get the “environment vote”.

Presumably the Liberals were referring to the ALP Otways forest policies which was the dominate environmental issue during the entire 2002 Victorian election campaign. Yet this 'political deal' was clearly not the case as far as Marcus Ward and his gang of Green Party candidates were concerned.

Despite all these political games, Premier Bracks won a landslide, the biggest parliamentary majority in the history of the Victorian State Parliament. (Herald Sun. Wipeout. 1 Dec 2002).

Herald Sun Advertisement. 29th November 2002.
Click to enlarge.


It is in the Greens Party interest to control and dominate the community debate over what is acceptable environmental progress/solutions. As with all political parties, the Green Party's pursuit of political power has meant they have not advocated objectively on issues.


  relevant links

Don't know the meaning of a word? Check the glossary.