FREMANTLE mayor Brad Pettitt has confirmed he is seeking preselection to represent the Greens in WA’s upper house.
Party rules forbid nominees from speaking publicly until the preselection process has unfolded, but Notre Dame University’s senior politics lecturer Martin Drum says Dr Pettitt’s move was savvy.
“There are only two realistic opportunities for Greens to win a seat … the upper house in the state and the senate,” Dr Drum said.
He says Dr Pettitt may have been a medium-turn option for the senate, but following Scott Ludlam’s unexpected departure during the citizenship drama Jordan Steele-John had built a strong personal profile in the role.
“He is not going anywhere any time soon.”
Dr Drum said while the legislative council might be viewed as a slightly more staid role for someone who’s courted a high public profile such as the Fremantle mayor, it definitely opened up a bigger platform for him.
During the mayor’s rein, Fremantle was only the second council in Australia to drop its Australia Day celebrations over sensitivity to Indigenous people, while he’s currently leading a move to rename Kings Square and potentially give it an indigenous alternative.
Former South Metro MLC Lynn MacLaren has also nominated to run again for her old seat, while incumbent Diane Evers is seeking a second term, meaning someone will end up in a virtually un-winnable third spot on the ticket.
Ms MacLaren was defeated in 2017 when a resurgent Labor snatched a third seat, but Dr Drum believes the Greens are in with a “realistic chance” of taking it back at next year’s March 21 election.
He says the upper house is hung at the moment, and likely to stay that way after the election, meaning cross-benchers such as the Greens would wield some power in debates.
by STEVE GRANT