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The Green view of the campaign -

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The Green view of the campaign

Broadcast: 19/07/2010

Reporter: Leigh Sales

ABC election analyst Antony Green joins Lateline to discuss the early days of the campaign.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: I'm joined now in Sydney by the ABC's election analyst Antony Green.

Antony, let's start with today's Newspoll which gave Labor a commanding lead. It's a little
different to some of the other polls that are around. How do you read it?

ANTONY GREEN, ABC EELECTION ANALYST: Well, we must remember that Labor has been ahead in nearly
every poll for the last four years. There's only three or four where Labor hasn't been ahead in all
that time. I think this poll is a little too strong for Labor. I wouldn't have thought it would be
that strong at this stage. But when you compare with the Galaxy poll which was much more narrow
between the two parties, I think that's a more realistic picture. But 55 I think is a little too

LEIGH SALES: If the Newspoll's accurate, how significant is it for a government to be so far ahead
at this stage of the campaign?

ANTONY GREEN: It's always good to go into an election campaign ahead. It's better than starting out
behind, and the Labor Party would certainly be pleased to see those numbers, but they still want to
keep the underdog affect. It's a key thing in Australian politics; you want to maintain being the
underdog. So they wouldn't want too many polls putting 'em far ahead.

LEIGH SALES: Since 2007 there've been redistrubtions in four different states. Talk us through
that. What's the significance of that?

ANTONY GREEN: What's happened is there's been some minor changes in Western Australia and Tasmania,
major changes in NSW with the loss of a seat and a transfer of seat to Queensland. And the result
of that is that Labor currently has 83 seats, but on the electorate boundaries has a notional 88.
They notionally gained five seats.

The Labor Party can lose 12 seats before it gets close to losing its majority on a swing of 1.5 per
cent. But of 12 Labor marginal seats, its marginal 12 seats, five of them are Liberal seats with
Liberal MPs, another three are vacant Labor seats. So there's only four Labor sitting MPs in its 12
most marginal seats. That means that it doesn't have all that sitting member factor in its
advantage, it doesn't have many sitting members out there campaigning in these key seats, which
will make it hard to resist any swing back to the Coalition at this election.

They won't have sitting members in their seats resisting that swing. They'll be hoping that they
can keep their general level of vote high so they don't have to rely on sitting member factors to
hang on to those marginal seats.

LEIGH SALES: We've also seen the announcement today of a preferences deal between Labor and the
Greens. What impact is that likely to have on Labor?

ANTONY GREEN: Well there's two impacts it has: one is in the Senate. What's happening in the Senate
with this deal is that the current senators were elected in 2004 when Labor did a strange deal with
minor parties that resulted in Steven Fielding from Family First being elected. What the Greens are
doing in the Senate this time is swapping direct preferences with Labor because they think that
they can actually get their - get a seat off the Liberals in the Upper House at this election.

Now the other thing that's occurring is in the lower House and I've got some table of figures here.
The Green preferences as the Green vote has risen in recent years have got stronger and stronger
towards Labor. So in 1996, there was only two thirds of Labor preferences - preferences going to
Labor where that preference figure is now around 80 per cent.

If the Green vote rises again at this election, the interest is to see whether again the Green
preferences will increase. Many of - much of that increasing Green vote has come from Labor. But I
think the real significance is in the Senate where clearly the two parties have done a deal to try
and grab a seat off the Liberal Party in some states.

LEIGH SALES: Will that guarantee the Greens the balance of power in the Senate?

ANTONY GREEN: If the Government is re-elected and the Greens will get the balance of power simply
because of a shift since 2004. The Coalition is highly unlikely to get four senators up again in
Queensland; they're likely to lose another one in one of the other states, so they may be down two
to three seats if the Gillard Government is re-elected.

In that circumstances, the change in numbers shift the Greens into the balance of power, even if
the Greens don't win any extra seats, and the likelihood is the Greens can win extra seats.
Victoria is a possibility and Queensland, I think, would be the two most likely seats.

LEIGH SALES: What about, say, for example, in the House of Representatives people have talked about
the Greens eyeing off, say, Lindsay Tanner's seat of Melbourne. Does this deal increase or decrease
their chances of staging a coup like that?

ANTONY GREEN: This deal doesn't affect that at all. In the seat of Melbourne, the case is whether
the Liberals will finish third and then the Liberals' preferences will determine the outcome. The
Labor Party will have the highest primary vote, first preference vote; the Greens will be somewhere
behind that if they can outpoll the Liberal Party.

The question is what happens to Liberal preferences. In the past in seats like that the Liberals
have always directed preferences to the Greens as a way of disrupting Labor's campaigning to try
and get them to develop resources to a seat like that. If the Liberals do that and there's a
significant fall in Labor's first preference vote, there would be a strong possibility the Greens
could win Melbourne.

LEIGH SALES: Thank you for that. No doubt we'll be chatting again during this campaign.

ANTONY GREEN: Thank you.