For the third state election in a row Labor is crying 'wolf!' about a non-existent deal on preferences between the Greens and Liberals. Labor's strategy is to divert attention from the fact that the Liberals will preference it ahead of the Greens wherever the Greens are likely to win seats. Premier Denis Napthine prefers Labor because the Greens are stronger on issues of social justice, public transport and the environment.
Days before the 2006 poll Labor 'lashed out' at the Greens, claiming a 'grubby deal' that could result in 'the Bracks government being thrown out of office' (The Age 18 Nov 06). Bracks was re-elected, aided by Greens preferences.
Days before the 2010 poll Labor lashed out again saying it was 'resigned to a Coalition-Green deal that could bring down the Brumby government' (The Age 11 Nov 2010). There was no such deal but Labor lost office. Its strategist Paul Howse nevertheless gloated to me that Labor had engineered Liberal preferences to go to itself ahead of the Greens in crucial inner Melbourne seats where the Greens, as a result, lost every seat.
Now, days before the 2014 election, Labor is at it again. Claiming a secret Greens-Liberal deal that does not exist, Labor knows that the Liberals will preference Labor in the same Greens-winnable seats in inner Melbourne. Labor doesn't want voters to see that it is more like the Liberals than the Greens.
The real problem for Labor is that more Liberal voters than ever, especially those concerned about the environment, are likely to ignore the how-to-vote card next Saturday and preference the Greens.
(Former Leader of the Australian Greens.)