Labor announces Elly Howse as its candidate for Balmain. Photo: Supplied

Posted by & filed under Inner West Independent.

A newly preselected Labor candidate says that the seat of Balmain has finished its “experiment of voting for a Greens MP”. 

PhD candidate Elly Howse will be taking on incumbent member for Balmain, Greens MP Jamie Parker. 

“[Y]ou’ve done your experiment of voting for a Greens MP” said Ms. Howse.

“I’m sure Jamie Parker is really nice but Balmain needs someone who’s not just nice, they actually need someone who’s gonna be able to deliver as part of government”.

“I think the main issue is that the Greens might have a lot of policies that sound nice on paper, or sound good on paper but there’s a really big difference between coming up with nice policies and actually being able to deliver for your electorate”. 

“And we know Labor is a party of government, the Greens is not a party of government”.

In response, Mr. Parker said: “It’s important that we have a voice outside of the government if Labor wants to form government because the truth is any member has to toe the party line whereas I’m in a position to be outside that Parliamentary arrangement and speak up for the community”.  

Ms. Howse said her campaign’s policy platform includes increasing funding for public schools, and said that Balmain Public School “has about $1.3 million in maintenance backlogs” and that “Rozelle Public School is almost close to a million dollars as well”. 

“Jamie as the MP for Balmain has just not been able to deliver and as a result classrooms in his electorate are falling apart and we’ve got schools that are basically full to the brim and can’t fit anymore students”, said Ms. Howse. 

In response Mr Parker said: “I’ve fought hard to increase maintenance funding for schools … the last NSW Labor government left behind a school maintenance backlog of nearly $1 billion”.

Mr Parker said he has secured “nearly $700,000 in grant funding for local schools to help them plug the gaps in state funding”.

“In the last 12 months alone I’ve secured a $20,000 grant for new bitumen surfacing at Birchgrove Public and $50,000 to refurbish a dilapidated toilet block at Forest Lodge Public School”.

Ms. Howse said she supports progressive causes such as assisted dying legislation, progressive abortion laws and drug law reform. 

Former Leichhardt Mayor Mr. Parker says the local community “need[s] to be having a completely different approach to public transport, to development” and believes in “supporting social services, protecting public housing, opposing the government’s terrible privatisation agenda of buses and public stability and we need this optimistic positive vision for our community”. 

Both Ms. Howse and Mr. Parker oppose the privatisation of the public transport system. 

Ms. Howse has attended the University of Sydney since 2007 and is currently completing a PhD in health policy and promotion. 

She has worked as an electorate officer for Tanya Plibersek and has “been engaged in [her] union the [National Tertiary Education Union] for many years since working at the University of Sydney”.

In response to criticism that she is young or inexperienced, 30 year old Ms. Howse said: “It’s really interesting how that’s sometimes put towards young women … I think that there’s sometimes a bit of a gendered basis to that”.

“We’re seeing at a state level and federal level the absolute attacks on public education and on school funding as well as on university funding and the tax on TAFE”.

“If you actually have more young people in Parliament representing the views and the voices of their electorate … I think you get better outcomes not just for young people but more broadly for society”. 

Ms. Howse grew up in Redfern and Forest Lodge, and says that Tanya Plibersek, NSW Labor MP’s Penny Sharp and Jo Halen and Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne are some of her supporters. 

“I was preselected because no one else actually nominated to run”, Ms. Howse said. “I obviously did such a good job at [convincing ALP Members to endorse her] that no one else wanted to run”. 

When asked whether he perceives Ms. Howse as a threat, Mr Parker said that “no one can ever take an election for granted and I take any candidate seriously”.  

He said that his achievements as Member of Balmain have included the light rail extension to Lilyfield, “free travel on light rail for school students”, stopping the “sell-off of Callan Park”, funding for ferry wharves, restoring “$3m in funding cuts to local women’s refuges” and reinstating the Glebe Youth Service.