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Greens name candidate for Briggs' SA seat

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A former state secretary of the SA Greens will challenge federal cities minister Jamie Briggs for his seat next election, InDaily can reveal.

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Nathan Daniell, who stepped down as state secretary in October and is now co-convenor of the SA branch, has been selected to represent the minor party.

It will be a tough ask for Daniell, vying for votes in the traditionally blue-ribbon seat, previously held by Liberal Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

However, the seat has not always been so safe.

The Greens polled second in the seat during the by-election that installed Briggs after Downer stepped down as an MP.

Greens candidate Lynton Vonow won 47 per cent of the two-candidate preferred vote at the by-election against Briggs’ 53 per cent.

The Labor Party did not field a candidate at the by-election and the Greens have since failed to poll higher than Labor in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

The Libs’ hold on the seat was also threatened during the “GST election” in 1998 when Democrats candidate and Redgum frontman John Schumann overtook the Labor candidate.

Daniell says the hills and rural electorate has been neglected by the major parties.

He intends to run a “very grassroots style campaign” to try and leapfrog Labor and topple the minister.

“Historically, Mayo’s been quite a strong area for the Greens,” Daniell told InDaily.

“In [former state opposition Leader Isobel Redmond’s seat of] Heysen last year … we jumped Labor and are now considered an actual alternative to the Liberals.

“Traditionally Mayo’s a very safe Liberal seat and, for that reason, I believe it doesn’t get much time.

“It’s taken for granted by the Liberals; it’s not considered a priority for Labor.

“We’ll be giving it the time and energy it deserves.

“We have quite strong policies in rural areas and I have a good understanding having grown up in different parts of rural South Australia.

“All my childhood was spent in rural or remote SA I actually grew up on the Eyre Peninsula then shifted up to Coober Pedy.”

Daniell now lives in the Adelaide Hills town of Bridgewater and is a member of the Adelaide Hills Council.

He also expects to face off against a candidate from Senator Nick Xenophon’s new party.

InDaily revealed internal Liberal Party polling in September that showed the Senator’s fledgling party – Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) – was polling second in at least four South Australian seats, including Briggs’ seat Mayo, which he holds with a margin of 12.5 per cent.

Xenophon is expected to unveil the majority of his candidates this month.

However, the fall of Tony Abbott has significantly shifted the political tide, making the task harder for Labor, Xenophon and Greens candidates.

“We won’t be focused too much on what they [NXT] are doing, more on us talking to the community about what the Greens want to deliver,” said Daniell.

“Based on previous results, [Xenophon] does draw votes away from all other parties and I think that creates other opportunities for the Greens potentially to jump Labor.”

“We believe that in time we can win Mayo, perhaps this election it is two party preferred [the Greens poll second to the Libs] but as we grow we will be in a stronger position to mount a serious challenge.”

Daniell nominated education, healthcare, small business and BP’s bid to drill in the Great Australian Bight as issues he would be prosecuting in the lead-up to the poll.

“If you don’t live in the city you don’t have access to those sort of specialised services, particularly with education,” said Daniell.

“The standard of learning is lower, and, over the last few decades, we’ve seen greater class sizes, closing down of small schools … that’s no different here in Mayo with a number of primary schools having closed down in recent decades.

“I want to see all children … have equal access to good education.”

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