Jenny’s long wait for a Green light

INDIGO councillor Jenny O’Connor faces a wait over the holidays to find whether she will be the Greens candidate for the upper house seat of Northern Victoria in next year’s state election.

Just two votes separate Ms O’Connor and Jen Allen, of Bendigo, for preselection for the seat and state party headquarters is not saying who has the lead.

Ms O’Connor yesterday said that, either way, she was confident the Greens would have a “strong voice” in the region.

Returning officer Stephen Luntz said party members had voted in a postal ballot that closed earlier this month.

With the margin so tight, it was decided to check that all members had received a ballot paper and there were no counting errors.

“With postal ballots one or two people might not receive a paper,” Mr Luntz said.

“It’s not a issue if the margin is 10 votes or so, but it’s just two.

“It’s by far the closest vote I’ve run, and I’ve run most of the upper house ones and many for the lower house for some time.

Mr Luntz said a result was not likely to be known before mid-January.

He said a result would be declared if everything was in order and, if not, a second ballot could be held.

Ms O’Connor said it was “reasonable” of the party to delay the declaration: “I would have done the same, I think.”

Her role in the state election comes only months after running for the Greens in the federal electorate of Indi, where the Greens vote was slashed to 3.42 per cent with much of the 6.21 per cent swing against them going to independent Cathy McGowan.

Ms O’Connor also ran for the lower house seat of Benambra at the 2010 state election, gaining 11 per cent of the vote — a lift of 4.38 per cent.

“With conservative governments at the state and federal level, people I talk to feel there needs to be a better mix,” she said.

“It’s made me feel there’s a really important role for the Greens in the upper house.”

Her Greens preselection opponent, Jen Alden is a naturopath and “healthbroker” who also runs Bendigo Foodshare.

On the closeness of the race, Ms O’Connor said: “Northern Victoria is such a huge area, she’s probably better known on that side and I’m better known on this one.

“Irrespective of who wins, the Greens will have a strong voice.”

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