Green told to sit down over GetUp! candidate

A Greens member vying for preselection for the ACT Senate race has apparently been told not to criticise the candidate favoured by federal leader Christine Milne.

Kate Hamilton refused to repeat any criticism of Simon Sheikh, the former national director of GetUp!, whom she previously labelled a ''celebrity candidate''.

''I'm not going to say anything further about Simon Sheikh and that,'' she told Fairfax Media on Sunday.

Mr Sheikh announced his candidacy in this newspaper in October, saying he is after Liberal senator Gary Humphries' seat.

The high-profile grassroots lobbyist was immediately given Senator Milne's blessing and was recently endorsed by Greens former leader Bob Brown.

The postal ballot of ACT members closes on Monday and Senator Milne is planning to announce the winner on Friday.

Soon after Senator Milne's endorsement of Mr Sheikh, Ms Hamilton said: ''Parachuting in candidates will alienate members like it has in the major parties.

''I am surprised Mr Sheikh chose the Senate seat in Canberra as his next career goal. You know, Canberra voters don't necessarily reward fly-in, fly-out lobbyists.''

Ms Hamilton returned to Canberra last year after spending 22 years in Sydney. Between 2004 and 2008 she was a Greens councillor on Leichhardt council.

ACT Greens convener Simon Copland said at the time Ms Hamilton's actions were against party process, which prohibits preselection candidates from campaigning against each other in the media. He said the party would take ''appropriate action''.

Ms Hamilton said on Sunday her assumptions were based on the activities in major parties.

Asked if she still had a problem with Mr Sheikh's nomination, she said: ''The Greens are a broad church, an ecumenical collection of people from across Australia.''

Pressed on the issue, she said: ''I know what the question was, that was my answer.''

Asked if the party had taken action against her, she said: ''There were words about that … I don't think I've been silenced.''

On her candidate statement, which went to the 600 ACT Greens members, she points out she grew up in Canberra.

The new ACT Greens convener Clare Quinn said on Sunday the party was considering whether Ms Hamilton had breached party rules.

''There is certainly a view that that has occurred but the party hasn't investigated that fully,'' she said.

Mr Sheikh resigned from the GetUp! advocacy group earlier this year before moving to Canberra, where his wife has taken a job at Australian National University.

He joined the Greens several months ago and denied he was a blow-in for the ACT Senate preselection.

''We're here for the long haul. We've made a permanent move here because it's a perfect place to raise a family,'' he said.

He is confident the Greens can unseat Senator Humphries through a campaign based on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's plan to cut the public service nationwide by 12,000 jobs through natural attrition.

''The other side here wants to trash Canberra's economy and we saw that happen in '96-97,'' Mr Sheikh said. ''At the Tuggeranong community festival on Saturday, I engaged with people who are deeply concerned about what Tony Abbott will do to our community.''

This story Green told to sit down over GetUp! candidate first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.