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Next election on knife edge as Greens chase balance of power

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22 March 2021 Australia is only 828 votes away from a minority parliament, new analysis reveals, as the Greens announced their goal for the next election was to secure balance of power in both houses of Parliament.

Revealing a shortlist of nine Lower House seats from which the Greens will choose their priority seats at the election the party considers likely to be held in November this year, Leader Adam Bandt said the Greens were on the verge of making history by electing the largest Greens Party Room ever and being in either sole or shared balance of power in both houses.

This approach has recently been endorsed by the party’s National Council.

Greens target seats

The Greens are aiming to gain an additional 3 Senate seats (NSW, Qld and SA), which would grow the party to 12 Senators, making it the largest third party ever in the Senate. This could deliver the Greens Senate balance of power in their own right, depending on how well Labor performs.

In the lower house, the nine seats on the Greens’ shortlist are Richmond, Griffith, Ryan, Brisbane, Higgins, Kooyong, Macnamara, Wills and Canberra. Five are held by Labor and four held by the Liberals. Two of the Labor seats (Macnamara, Richmond) are three-cornered contests where the Coalition may also win. Further details about these seats are set out below.

The seats require as little as 2.91% swing to the Greens for the Greens to win. Historically, by focusing on a small number of federal lower house seats, the Greens have been able to achieve swings of 7% or more in a single seat every campaign since 2010.

Minority parliament most likely outcome of any anti-Coalition swing.

The first part confirms that the Coalition won in 2019 by only two seats. In the two closest seats, Bass and Chisholm, if 828 people had voted differently (eg switching from Liberals to Greens and preferencing Labor, as per our How to Vote cards, or switching directly from Liberal to Labor), no-one would have won a majority. In short, according to standard analysis of electoral pendulums, a uniform 2PP swing of 0.57% (which would shift the 828 votes in those 2 seats) would push the Coalition into minority.

However, given the size of the crossbench in the House, the analysis Labor needs to win a further 6 seats to reach a majority in its own right. This would require a uniform national 2PP swing of 3.88%, something Labor has only achieved once in the last 20 years. Anthony Albanese would need to repeat the success of the ‘Kevin 07’ campaign to win majority government in his own right.

The Greens have concluded that it will be very difficult for Labor to win a majority government in its own right and if there is a swing against the government at the next election, the most likely outcome is a minority Labor government. The analysis is reinforced by many recent polls, which show the Labor/Liberal two-party contest swinging towards Labor but not with the near 4% required.

The Greens want the Coalition ousted, and over coming weeks will begin announcing the policies it will put on the table in any minority parliament with Labor.

The analysis presumes the likely scenario that all 6 House crossbenchers elected in 2019 will be re-elected, that Craig Kelly’s seat of Hughes returns to the Liberal party. Of course, if the Greens succeed in gaining new lower house seats or independents are successful in other seats, the likelihood of a minority parliament increases.

Quotes attributable to Greens Leader, Adam Bandt:

“The next election is closer than people think.

“If 828 people voted differently, the Greens would be in balance of power.

“We want to kick the Liberals out, put the Greens in balance of power and push the next government to go further and faster on climate change.

“Liberal and Labor take political donations from the billionaires and big corporations and as a result, governments don’t take action on climate change and inequality. The Greens don’t take big corporate money, so by putting us in

balance of power, we can force the next government to act on the long-term issues facing this country.”

Media Contacts: Tom Burmester; 0429 109 054