The leader of the Victorian Greens has ousted the party’s controversial state convener after successfully applying to have recent election results set aside.
Linda Gale, a senior industrial officer at the National Tertiary Education Union, was elected last Saturday to fill a casual vacancy as state convener of the Victorian Greens, despite co-authoring a 2019 document labeled “transphobic”.
Her appointment prompted a backlash on social media from party members, including the Greens senator Janet Rice and two Victorian Greens MPs who said there was “no alternative” but for her to resign when she did not disavow the comments.
But late on Friday, Samantha Ratnam, an upper house Victorian MP and the parliamentary leader of the Greens in the state, revealed that she had taken action under the party’s rules to overturn the results.
In a series of tweets, Ratnam confirmed she had moved against Gale because of her comments and urged her not to run again when a new election for state convener was held.
Ratnam said she had applied for the result to be set aside as candidates had not been allowed to communicate with members about their candidacy, which she believed “materially impacted the outcome of the election”.
She said she had not commented publicly before last night not to compromise her application for the result to be set aside.
“So many Greens supporters have joined our movement over the years because of our unwavering commitment to equality, including for trans and gender diverse people,” Ratnam tweeted.
“Right now, those supporters are understandably distressed and disappointed by what is happening in the party.
“In positions of leadership, our personal views do matter. People need to trust that we can always support and protect them. I stand with our trans and gender-diverse communities. I will fight for you always.”
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It is unclear when a new election to elect a convener and assistant state secretary will be held.
Gale issued a statement on Tuesday saying the position of the Greens, both nationally and in Victoria, was that “trans rights are non-negotiable”.
“All trans and gender diverse people are valid and deserve to live free from harassment and discrimination. The role of the convenor is to advance all Greens policies, and I will do so,” she said.
“As convenor, I will uphold and fight for the right of trans and gender diverse people to live their authentic lives free from harassment and discrimination, just as I will fight for the rights of First Nations people, women, refugees, gay and lesbian people, people with disabilities, and people of color.
“The Greens are committed to genuine social justice – a commitment I embrace wholeheartedly.”
Gale was contacted for comment on Saturday.