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Greens unveil new candidate and balance of power hopes

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The South Australian Greens are hopeful of becoming the state’s “third political force” and holding the balance of power in the Upper House, after electing a young environmental campaigner as their number two Legislative Council candidate for next year’s state election.

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Public servant and former Greens adviser Yesha Joshi – who was born in India and migrated to Adelaide with her family when she was nine – has been preselected for the number two position on the Greens’ Upper House ticket, behind Adelaide City Councillor and former senator Robert Simms who was elected as lead candidate last year.

Greens MLC Tammy Franks said the next state election represented an historic opportunity for the Greens to secure the balance of power in the Upper House for the first time.

Franks said Joshi, 29, would bring years of experience as a parliamentary staffer and community advocate.

“She is energetic, passionate, committed,” Franks said.

“She’s a product of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and youth movement as well as Green movement and she certainly will shake things up if she gets to sit on the red benches.”

Franks said Simms and Joshi would make “an inspiring team”.

“In preselecting two lead candidates under 40 for the first time – a gay man and a woman of colour – the Greens are sending a strong message that we want to make the next Parliament more inclusive and representative of the SA community,” she said.

If elected, they would join fellow party-member Franks, a legislative councillor whose term expires in 2026.

Long-time Legislative Councillor Mark Parnell announced last year he would not contest a third eight-year term at the March 2022 state election after 14 years in the role, citing no “real reason” apart from his desire to “give someone else a chance”.

Parnell was a founding member of the Greens SA and became the first Green elected to parliament at the 2006 election.

Franks said if the Greens polled as well as they did in the last federal election, both Simms and Joshi would be elected to Parliament.

“In terms of our numbers if we polled what we did in the last federal election, we believe we could do it,” she said.

“In fact our polling is growing since that. With the real lack of a Xenophon force led by (former MLC) Nick Xenophon, South Australian politics has changed markedly and the Greens are the third force in politics in SA now as we are across the country.

“It’s been an unusual situation here in SA where Nick Xenophon has (previously) held that ground.

“We’ve just seen in Queensland One Nation subside in the same way and the Queensland Greens take two seats in the lower house and we believe a similar pattern will happen here. There are a lot of lessons in Queensland for South Australia.”

Emeritus Professor Clem Macintyre, from the University of Adelaide’s department of politics and international relations, said the Greens had “every chance but not a certainty” of winning two seats in the Upper House and holding the balance of power there.

“They could go into the campaign with confidence and a real expectation of two seats if things play out for them as well as possible,” he said.

“The votes that once would have gone to Xenophon and other minor parties, those voters are going to be looking around because there are not going to be minor parties of note other than the Greens.”

Joshi worked as an adviser to Franks for seven years, specialising in industrial relations. She has a background in environmental policy and management.

She is currently a public servant and under the Public Sector Act her role prevents her from doing media interviews at the moment.

Simms said he was “delighted to be working with my friend Yesha on this exciting campaign for our party”.

“Yesha brings years of experience and community connections which will help us grow our Green vote,” he said.

“I can’t wait to campaign with her.”

Franks said “having the balance of power in our own right would mean that Green ideas into power would happen more often through the SA Parliament”.

“That means that we’d be really focused on our key campaign priorities of climate change, climate justice as well as the growing inequality in our society,” she said.

“Issues such as housing and homelessness we want to put absolutely square on the agenda of both Labor and Liberals this state election.”

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