Larissa Waters closer to Senate return after winning Greens preselection

Former senator beats anti-Adani campaigner Ben Pennings to win 75% of party vote for the No 1 Queensland ticket spot

Larissa Waters has cleared one more hurdle on her path to return to parliament, winning her party’s preselection for the No 1 Senate spot with three-quarters of the vote.

After Andrew Bartlett (who took up the Queensland Senate seat as Waters was forced to step down when she discovered she was a dual citizen) announced he was making a bid for the lower house, Waters firmed up as the party favourite.

But the divide which has confronted the increasingly factional party in New South Wales and Victoria at one point looked as though it was afflicting the Queensland branch, with Waters facing a preselection challenge from Ben Pennings, who represented a section of the party which wanted change from more established candidates.

But Waters’ popularity helped carried her to sweeping victory for the Senate ticket spot, winning 75% of the party vote.

Bartlett will tackle the incumbent Brisbane Liberal National party MP Trevor Evans for the seat of Brisbane, while Pennings will sit at No 2 on the Senate ticket.

Waters indicated she would focus on keeping both major parties to account.

“Labor and the LNP protect the interests of their corporate donors instead of the people they were elected to represent,” she said. “Democracy has been sold out to the highest bidder – vested interests get their backs scratched while the community and the real issues they face are sidelined.

“Rather than addressing record low wages, insecure jobs, rising cost of living, the need for real jobs in regional Queensland and the impacts of climate change driven by corporate greed, the big parties squabble in Canberra.

“When Labor were last in government they continued the tax freebies for big mining companies while cutting the single parent pension and trying to cut university funding. The Coalition is now at war with vulnerable people, whether they are jobseekers or asylum seekers, and want even more handouts to their corporate mates with their $65bn tax cut proposal.”

Pennings, who announced his bid in January with a Facebook post which warned that the Greens needed to change to woo back “disaffected outer suburban and regional voters”, after the party only won 7% of the vote at the last election and maintained its Senate spot through the lowered double-dissolution vote quota, said he welcomed second place.

“I’m genuinely happy Larissa gets the opportunity to represent Queenslanders again in the Senate,” he said. “I’ll continue my focus on stopping Adani and support her however I can.”

The Queensland Greens have been encouraged by the state election, which saw the party’s first MP elected, with Michael Berkman taking the former LNP seat of Maiwar from Scott Emerson.

But the party had high hopes it would win at least one more, with the deputy premier Jackie Trad’s progressive seat of South Brisbane heavily targeted by the Greens during the campaign but ultimately failing to change hands.

Queensland remains a focus of the party for the upcoming federal election, with the Greens hoping to leverage Labor’s split position on Adani to its advantage and win a much-coveted second Senate spot.


Amy Remeikis

The GuardianTramp

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