4 Jun. 2007

Have Rudd And Brown Done A Deal On Preferences Yet?

You wouldn't expect News Ltd to have the inside scoop on a story like this:
News Limited newspapers on Monday reported Labor and the Greens were on the verge of a deal whereby Labor preferences would be directed to the Greens for NSW Senate seats. In return the Greens would direct preferences to Labor in 23 marginal NSW seats.
Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane is now making a fool of himself trying to turn the Lib's failed ad hominem attack policies from Rudd to Peter Garrett.

The problem with attacking Garrett is that he has been talking about climate change for years, giving him a level of environmental credibility only the Greens can match, so nit-picking and misrepresenting his comments is just not going to work. I guess the Libs are playing to their Val-Doonican-fans base here.

Meanwhile, Senator Fielding says the battle for control of the Senate at the next election will come down to a contest between his Family First party and the Greens. Time will tell on that one.

Here's what Bob Brown Told Laurie Oakes over the weekend:
LAURIE OAKES: Now, as Labor support grows under Kevin Rudd, it's looking as though the Greens are on the skids, you're away down to the poll — the latest Newspoll has the Greens with just three percent of the vote compared with 7.2 percent at the last election. Why are you going south?

BOB BROWN: Well, Newspoll doesn't ask, doesn't give people the option of Greens. It says who else and then who else, it doesn't have us up there — it doesn't say Labor, Liberal, Greens. The other polls show us between six and eight percent, which is right where we were at the last election.

LAURIE OAKES: If you average all the other polls, you've dropped certainly since the election.

BOB BROWN: Yes and so's everybody else with the Rudd phenomenon.

LAURIE OAKES: So, Kevin Rudd is stealing votes from the Greens? Is that because people, more than climate change, environmental issues are interested in getting rid of John Howard and they realise voting Green won't do that?

BOB BROWN: Spot on. They're interested in getting rid of John Howard but there's a second thing at stake here and, of course, that's the Senate. The big interest is definitely between Howard and Rudd. But if the Coalition maintains control of the Senate, if Rudd wins the Prime Ministership he's facing a hostile Senate and that could lead to a double dissolution within 18 months because, for example, the Industrial Relations policies of the Labor Party would be blocked, climate change action that's required would be blocked, we could see budgetary measures being blocked by a hostile Senate. So, who wins control of the Senate is important. Labor can't win the 11 seats that are required to give it a majority in the Senate. It needs the Greens and the Greens, I think, are going to be seen by Australia as a very important hand on the shoulder of whichever government gets in there and a very important stimulus to tackle dangerous climate change.
Brown suggested that the Greens would not direct preferences to anyone if Labour directed preferences to Family First, and even said they were even talking to the Liberals about directing preferences in the Senate (where an open ticket on preferences is illegal). Maybe that was enough of a threat to swing a deal?

I don't think it is in either party's interest to have this preferences issue drag out for too long. Rudd and Brown should shake on a deal, and move on.