Greens aim to reclaim votes lost to McGowan

Greens candidate Jenny O'Connor, photo courtesy of The Ovens & Murray Advertiser.
Greens candidate Jenny O'Connor is using social media to regain support for her election campaign in Indi, writes Dave Faulkner.

Greens candidate Jenny O’Connor is hoping a vigorous social media campaign will help her regain support lost in the push to replace Liberal Sophie Mirabella at the last Federal election.

The Indigo Shire Council councillor, who first stood for Greens in Indi in 2010, said campaigning for Independent Cathy McGowan was a setback for her party.

O’Connor said she aimed to regain ground lost to the Voices of Indi campaign in 2013 in which it suffered a -6.2 per cent swing gaining just 3.4 per cent of the vote.

“We lost six per cent of our votes,” said O’Connor, 55, a sixth generation resident of the north eastern region, former small business owner and nurse.

O’Connor said that while she found this “personally difficult”, it was necessary and she understood the need for change.

Posting daily, O’Connor said her strong social media presence had “definitely boosted” her campaign, broadening the range of supporters she is able to reach. Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale’s  profile in local papers had assisted her campaign.

In the past month O’Connor’s social media profiles have risen. Her Facebook page has gained 20 new followers per week and her tweets reached more than 1000 followers last month.

O’Connor became politically active in the 1980s as a single mother who, as president of the Council for Single Mothers, ran a successful campaign to get the Federal Government to soften its approach to single parents on social security benefits.  She was elected to Indigo Shire Council in 2004.

O’Connor has cited the welcome shown to refugees who have found a home in Indi’s Goulburn Valley, as an example of the way they should be accepted elsewhere in Australia and has articulated a strong position on national political issues including the treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island, labelling it as “blatantly illegal”.

She said she would focus on education funding. She is committed to supporting a campaign aimed at reversing $300 million annual funding cuts to TAFE programs in Victoria in recent years and said climate change, opportunity for sustainable energy in Indi, opposition to coal-seam gas and breaking up the Coles/Woolworths supermarket duopoly would continue to be among the party’s key concerns.

Asked about her campaign finance, the Greens candidate said that she had relied on “on the ground fundraisers” and that this was her preferred approach.

O’Connor said she believed there must be a change in the political donations disclosure system and the Federal funding system “absolutely has to be a capped”.

She said that she was comfortable with a smaller budget, noting that it was not right to spend large amounts of money on campaigns when so many locals were on low wages.

O’Connor said she tried to involve herself and others in her strong Indi network in rallies and marches in the region as well as in Melbourne on issues such as climate change and asylum seekers.