James Ryan Greens preselection speech – Ashfield Town Hall

Below is the speech I gave for the Greens NSW 2015 Senate preselection.  Greens members can see the video of the full speech on the Greens NSW Members website.


Good evening. My name is James Ryan.

I would like to pay my respects to the traditional custodians of this land and their elders past and present.

I would like to tell you a bit about my record and why I would like to be YOUR Senator.JR at 2015 Preselection forum (2)

I grew up in the bush in the Hunter Valley.  I had the privilege of attending a SCHOOL which was the third WORST in NSW at that time for getting kids through year 12.  After Brewarrina in western NSW and Mount Druitt in western Sydney my High School in the Hunter Valley was worst. In keeping with School’s record I didn’t finish school high school.

However thanks to the marvellous TAFE system I did manage to complete the HSC later and enrol in University of Sydney.


  • I am a practising solicitor.
  • I have been a Greens Councillor on Cessnock Council for the past 11 years.
  • I work for the Greens NSW as the Planning and Environment Law Officer part time –
  • and spend the other part of my week at the Environmental Defenders Office.

My efforts over the past few years have led to:

  • A Government inquiry into my own Council which resulted in a finding of ‘an unacceptable culture of accepting gifts and benefits’
  • A successful campaign to save Cessnock Maximum Security Prison from privatisation,
  • A campaigned to overturn Brad Hazzard’s Planning Laws which would have seen residents in NSW prohibited from having a say on 80% of all development.
  • As part of my local residents group I am currently taking my own Council to the Land & Environment Court to protect the habitat of the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater.

That is my record.

It seems to me that we NOW stand at a critical point in history of social and environmental upheaval – but our community stands transfixed like a rabbit in the headlights – unable to move or solve our problems.

The question for us is why?

  • Why, with the evidence that the Pacific island of Tuvalu will become uninhabitable as a result of sea level rise and own country will suffer more severe droughts and bushfires; Why is it that we have parliaments full of members who think that the fossil fuel industry should continue unchanged?
  • On Health. Why is it that throughout Australia regional and rural communities do not have the same access to GP’s and basic health services as their city cousins? Poorer people do not have the same access as those who are wealthy. And why is it that for Aboriginal people access to services are even worse?
  • Why is it that housing affordability is such a problem when we know that negative gearing, the first home owners bonus and tax concessions for Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs), increase the price of housing? Why is it that we have Joe Hockey and Mike Baird still insisting that releasing more land will solve the housing affordability crisis?
  • Why is it that Union membership has falling from approx. 40% in 1992 to 18% in 2011 –at a time when weekend penalty rates are have been slashed across the country, when more people are forced to work multiple casual jobs?
  • Why is it that a country, our country, can prides itself on “the rule of law” but blatantly defy its own international obligations and persecute asylum seekers who attempt to arrive by boat?
  • Why is the Australian Minister for Womens Affairs a man?

The answer to all these whys is the unequal distribution of power in our society.

As a Greens Senator, and as the Greens, our job is to campaign to change the distribution of power in our society. It is not enough to campaign from issue to issue and try for singular wins. Every time we campaign, whether it is on coal mining, refugees or marriage equality, we have to be trying to change the distribution of power.

So what is the type of Senator I would like to be for the Greens?

I would be a Senator who agitates for progressive change.

A Senator that wants to be a spokesperson for the party and not a lecturer to the party.

I have a great track record of being working with the Party and being accountable to the Party.

I have a great track record of achieving wins in campaigns.

I am capable, I’m committed and I’m effective.

I would like to be your Senator.

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