Canny northern suburbs Liberals have planted operatives within the Victorian Greens Party to run as “dummies” in support of pro-development councillors, according to close observers of the Banyule council.
The shrewd move has caused a panicked response from Greens Party High Command, with a belated background check and investigation occurring into Ian Kirk, their endorsed candidate in Bakewell Ward in the Banyule municipality.
The “Green” Kirk has stunned political observers in Banyule by delivering his second preference to Councillor Peter McKenna, a staffer of rising Liberal star Matthew Guy MLC.
McKenna is considered a loyal vote for development along with wily former Lib MP Mayor Wayne Phillips. Both have ushered in an unprecedented era of prosperity for developers in the area. Planning approvals championed by Phillips and McKenna could potentially bring the area 15000 units for Greensborough and surrounding areas, as it escapes its low density housing past.
Banyule locals explain that Ian Kirk is in the building and plumbing supplies business and has been seen chatting in a local restaurant with Phillips over the past year. It is unknown whether Kirk and Phillips have a commercial relationship. Kirk joined the Greens Party quite recently.
Winning the Greens preferences in this way has been considered an astonishing coup by McKenna given his public declarations of hostility to Greens Party and Penny Wong “Dark Ages” emissions tax policies in recent letters to the Herald-Sun.
McKenna had previously been thought to face an uphill battle for re-election after failing to honour a campaign promise to freeze rates and instead voting up a 22% rates increase which raised many tens of millions of dollars for council bureaucrats to spend.
A senior Greens party operative – talking on condition of anonymity – said a preference deal was one thing but the policy pronouncements of Kirk “clearly indicated something untoward was going on”.
Kirk’s conservative agenda – shown here on his campaign material – includes “keep(ing) rates low”, “smarter city planning” (not the usual Greens party pledge to oppose ‘inappropriate development’), an assertion the council doesn’t do enough to tackle graffiti and a commitment to “co-operate with local traders”.
Greens party sources indicate that despite Kirk’s use of the party logo and his endorsement as a candidate that he has failed to “clear” any of his material and that he has quite possibly “turned rogue”. The suggestion that upper house MP Greg Barber might have sanctioned the establishment of a Blue-Green “Aqua” faction of Greens Party pro-development low-tax conservatives was vigorously denied by the source.
Sources explain that a Damian Magner brought candidate Kirk into the party although it is unknown whether he will be involved in the internal investigation. Magner is running in another ward in Banyule – where he has also done a preference swap with a pro-development conservative – but was widely known to be involved in negotiating preferences on behalf of Kirk, which might cause him to also be investigated.
Under the Greens party constitution, members guilty of disloyalty to the party can be suspended or expelled.