Byron councillor Michael Lyon.
Byron councillor Michael Lyon.

How ‘peculiar’ quirk influenced Greens’ preselection

A BYRON councillor says he is worried "anti-development, say no to everything" Greens candidates will alienate voters at next year's election.

Sitting Greens councillor Michael Lyon said despite drawing almost a quarter of the first preferences, the most of any candidate, a "peculiar" quirk of the Byron Greens' voting system means members can strategically, negatively, target a candidate.

In the field of seven candidates, a first preference would yield an individual six points, while a last preference bears zero points.

"It's just a weird voting system," Cr Lyon said.

"This encourages tactical voting and an analysis of the ballots shows that's exactly what happened."

 

Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Duncan Dey.
Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Duncan Dey.

He said there was a small difference between the third and sixth place.

Former Byron Shire councillor Duncan Dey will lead the team of Greens candidates heading to the ballots in 2021, along with current deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye, Matt O'Reilly, Kate Coxall and Ian Cohen.

The council election was initially scheduled for September this year but the Covid-19 pandemic led to its postponement.

 

Byron Shire Council's deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye, who will be on the Greens ticket again for the 2021 council election.
Byron Shire Council's deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye, who will be on the Greens ticket again for the 2021 council election.

Mayor Simon Richardson previously confirmed he would not contest the next election and Cr Jeannette Martin did not put her hand up for preselection.

Cr Lyon said the current council had attracted some criticism for its handling of some inherited issues, including funding for and starting work on the Byron bypass.

Also divisive among local Greens was the Business and Industrial Lands Strategy and a planning proposal to manage weddings and events on rural properties, Cr Lyon said.

He said there had been a clear division between some parts of the party and the "dark Greens", who he said sported the "worst record on things like road infrastructure" and an "anti-development, no-to-everything mentality".

"The danger is there's a large section of Greens voters that won't feel represented," he said.

 

Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Matt O'Reilly.
Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Matt O'Reilly.

Cr Lyon said he accepted the result, but would approach the membership about possible addressing the "tactical" quirk that's currently in place.

Mr Dey said there was a "diversity of voices" on the ticket.

"They reflect our diverse community," he said.

Mr Dey said he wanted to see "living conditions enhanced, not degraded by development", for local economies like food economies to "blossom" and for the shire to move away from reliance on tourism.

 

Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Kate Coxall.
Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Kate Coxall.

Cr Ndiaye extended her congratulations to Mr Dey and said she was proud to have the second position on the ticket.

She said it was "unfortunate" Cr Lyon, who filled in for the mayor for a period of time, was unsuccessful in vying for a preselection place.

"I'm optimistic this is a ticket we can work with," she said.

"I think in this term of council we've been able to achieve some incredible things, things I never thought were possible when I got on council."

 

Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Ian Cohen.
Greens candidate for Byron Shire Council, Ian Cohen.

This has included drawing a huge amount of funding for "neglected roads", focusing on renewable energy and making decisions with the environment front of mind, she said.

Cr Ndiaye said the Greens ticket for the 2021 election involved a "shift towards a more conservative approach".

She said Simon Richardson had been "an incredible advocate" for the community.

"He's taken us through some very challenging times and had the vision to bring to life some projects I don't think anyone else could have," she said.

"He deserves a break; it's not an easy job.

"I think the world needs more people like him."