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Green power

Broadcast: 23/11/2010

Reporter: Kirstin Murray

Polls are indicating that the Brumby Labor Government in Victoria will be facing a tough fight at
the upcoming election with the Greens likely to play a decisive role.


TRACEY BOWDEN, PRESENTER: This year's cliffhanger Federal Election saw the Greens become major
political players after winning almost 12 per cent of the national vote.

With the Greens also holding the balance of power after the Tasmanian election earlier this year,
the party must have had high hopes for the Victorian State election to be held this weekend.

But those hopes received a big setback when the State Liberal Opposition announced it would
preference Labor ahead of the Greens. With polls indicating the Brumby Labor Government could be on
an electoral knife edge, some Liberal supporters fear the decision could prove costly.

Kirsten Murray reports.

BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: It' just so exciting to be here in a campaign that's so winnable.

KM, REPORTER: 2010 was billed as the the year of the Greens and here in Victoria, just like the
federal election, there's been much ado about the minor party with major ambition.

JULIA GILLARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Your vote for Labor has never mattered more.

JOHN HOWARD, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: In my view the Greens are worse than the Labor Party. Much

BOB BROWN: Last Saturday in November. Melbourne, let's make history, again.


KIRSTIN MURRAY: Off the back of their historic win in Canberra, Greens boss Bob Brown couldn't help
but hope for a repeat in the State.

But how things change.

The Victorian Liberals' decision to preference the Greens behind Labor has dealt a mighty blow.

TERRY BARNES, FORMER LIBERAL ADVISER: The Liberal announcement was a bombshell. It was a total game
changer. The Greens did not expect it. They were winded.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: For months the Liberals had toyed with preferencing the left wing group, hoping to
crush their rival's chance of retaining inner city seats, but almost certainly delivering up to
four Greens to Victoria's Lower House.

Then last week, all bets were off.

TERRY BARNES: I felt that the Greens were very complacent, even cocky, about the possibility of
getting four seats or more on Liberal preferences.

The only question they didn't ask is whether they were going to get those preferences in the first

KIRSTIN MURRAY: How much of a setback is for you?

BRIAN WALTERS, GREENS CANDIDATE: Well, it is a setback but these seats are still quite winnable for

(to the public) Good morning. The Greens. How are you?

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Brian Walters is running for seat of Melbourne. Without Liberal preferences the
odds of him ousting the sitting Labor member have lengthened.

But the barrister says this manoeuvre simply confirms the Greens have become a serious threat.

BRIAN WALTERS: I think the major parties are petrified at the rise of the Greens. They have no
answer. They've got no policies that they can put forward positively.

So all they have is the option of climbing into each other's arms and hoping that they can hold the
Greens out.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: The seats under focus lie within Greens' star Adam Bandt's federal electorate. In
August he became the first in his party to get elected to the Lower House in a general election and
it was Liberal preferences that helped get him there.

The power he has enjoyed since has horrified many Conservatives.

TERRY BARNES: It was important for Ted to be seen to stand up for what he believed in. 'This is
what we believe in and stand for and we're not going to compromise that to do a deal with the
Greens which may lead to a hung Parliament'.

That's great. But may also mean that the Greens' agenda is the tail that wags the Victorian dog.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Is this a smart move?

NICK ECONOMOU, POLITICS, MONASH UNIVERSITY: Well, I'm not so sure. Again, it depends. If it's about
trying to cause your opponents as much trouble as you possibly can - force them to fight a fight on
two fronts - then perhaps it's not such a smart move.

On the other hand if there is a real danger that your party is going to rip itself apart over the
issue of whether or not they should preference the Greens, then perhaps it was a smart move.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: This is quite a gift for you, isn't it?

RICHARD WYNNE, LABOR CANDIDATE: Oh look, what the Liberal Party decides to do with its preferences
is obviously a matter for them. My focus is really on the 27th of November.

(Laughs with a passerby)

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Richard Wynne must be feeling more confident now but the Liberal deal has exposed
the fragility of Labor's hold on the area.

A drive through these electorates highlights how worried the ALP's been about the erosion of its
support base. But unlike the Federal campaign where Labor tried to appease all, candidates here can
be loud and proud about their views on climate change, asylum seekers and same sex marriage.

RICHARD WYNNE: I think it is appropriate when people ask 'What is your view? What is your
position?' you ought to put that position. And I'm comfortable about that, as is my party.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: For Liberals on the ground there is a strong feeling of relief now their party has
taken a stand - even if the decision makes it that much harder for candidates like Luke Martin to

LUKE MARTIN, LIBERAL CANDIDATE: I think it's been one of the best decisions we've made in a number
of years. I have people coming up to me daily, people emailing me, people ringing me and saying
'Well done. Well done to you and the Liberal Party for making such a bold decision and a good
choice for the future of Victoria'.

TERRY BARNES: It's a gutsy decision. It potentially risked losing the election on the 27th of

KIRSTIN MURRAY: It's been a divisive and distracting issue for the party, with former heavy weights
Jeff Kennett and Peter Costello questioning the strategy in print.

But neither would talk on camera.

TERRY BARNES: I think the world has changed since Peter and Jeff were in office, even in the three
years since the 2007 Federal Election. We have to look at the situation now and in the future and
we're talking about a battle of ideas and a battle of political survival.

(Excerpt from Labor advertisement)

VOICEOVER: We love trees and we love regeneration...

(End of excerpt)

KIRSTIN MURRAY: It's no coincidence the ALP launched its campaign in Bendigo. Regional Victoria was
responsible for getting Labor into office in 1999.

The Liberals' preference deal has now freed Labor from protecting its heartland.

NICK ECONOMOU: Labor can now not worry about committing resources to the inner city. It can now
concentrate its efforts out in the outer suburbs, where its marginal seats are, and in the regional
cities where its key seats are.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: But 11 years is a long time to be in office and once again it could be regional
voters who change the government.

NICK ECONOMOU: This was always going to be a tough election for Mr Brumby because Labor is going
for its fourth term. They may lose a couple of seats but I don't think that they will lose enough
seats to lose government.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Even if Ted Baillieu fails to take the reins on Saturday, the Victorian Liberals
have set a precedent for how other states might deal with the Greens, a party that for now is still
in need for a helping hand.

I think over time we'll be able to gain seats in our own right.

BRIAN WALTERS: There's a rise in Green vote right across the state. Of course it's strongest in the
inner city at the moment but country Victoria is much more nuanced than some of the major parties
seem to realise.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Just how much of an impact preferences have on Saturday is still really anyone's

At the last State election, more than half of voters ignored how to vote cards to pick their own
preferences. And that leaves the Greens with their fingers crossed this weekend.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Kirstin Murray with that report from Melbourne.