If Rudd decides to direct Labour preferences to Family First or any other ratbag group ahead of the Greens, well, that's my potential Labour vote lost straight away. Sadly, it would also mean my Green vote preference not being directed to Labour. And that sort of thing could be enough to hand Howard victory (again).
If the election is now Rudd's to lose, this could turn out to be a critical moment:
"Labor should not take us for granted, and they're doing that at the moment and it's very important that they understand that if they're to win government, they need Greens preferences," Senator Brown told the Nine Network on Sunday.The only reason Rudd would not direct preferences to the Greens is because (a) he thinks he can win without them, and (b) he is scared of a big Green vote robbing him of untethered power.
Senator Brown said he was particularly concerned to hear that Labor had been discussing preferences with Family First Senator Steve Fielding.
"There's no doubt that Labor is talking with Family First, but they're not talking with the Greens. I think that's because they take the Greens for granted," he said.
"I think most Labor voters would much prefer to have the Greens in the balance of power in the Senate rather than a fundamentalist party like Family First."
Rudd's advisers should think twice about this. For starters, as we have seen over the past three years, tethers can be a very useful thing in a working democracy. Secondly, the Greens could prove to be a very convenient scapegoat further down the line. And finally, if Rudd is really sincere about his environmental and Iraq War promises, what is there to be afraid of?