Preferences will help decide this election but can everyone sleep well at night given the tawdry deals that have been done.

Laurie Oakes gave John Howard a hard time onSundaythis morning over the Liberal Party’s preference deal with Family First and Bob Brown was copping just as much grief from Malcolm Farr and Jennifer Hewitt on Meet The Pressfor some of the Greens preference deals.

The minor party vote will probably fall from 20 per cent in 2001 to about 16 per cent this time but it will still be vital and in a tight contest will probably decide the outcome.

Therefore, we’re going to try and rank the 20 most indefensible, hypocritical and shameslessly pragmatic preference deals in this election and invite you to send your submissions to boss @crikey.com.au.

Here are a few to kick things off:

HEMP preferencing Family First in the Senate by accident and then writing to members urging them to vote below the line.

The Liberals putting Family First ahead of Meg Lees in the South Australian senate.

Family First refusing to preference Liberal Ingrid Tall in Brisbane because she is gay.

Openly gay WA Democrat Senator Brian Greig shamelessly taking preferences from Family First.

Greens giving first preferences to HEMP in the Queensland Senate and also putting the Socialist Alliance ahead of the Democrats in some states despite supposedly having a preference swap deal with the Dems.

The Greens and Labor claiming to support Indigenous Australians and then doing a preference deal that will almost certainly see Aden Ridgeway, Australia’s only Indigenous Federal MP, voted out of the Senate.

Charles Richardson’s grubby preference deals analysis

Crikey’s resident psephologist and Senate expert writes:

I don’t think the preferences that serious parties give to the non-serious ones (e.g., Greens to Trots or Hemp) are worth worrying
about much; the ones that matter are the ones that could conceivably affect the result.

Perhaps Turnbull (and others) going to the CEC ahead of Labor is an exception, since the LaRouchites are so off the planet, but it’s still
of symbolic rather than real importance. (And I’m sure it’s not a “deal”, in the sense of the Liberals having sought something from the
LaRouchites in return.)

There’s plenty of others to worry about, though. The Senate alone gives us:

Democrats preferencing to Assemblies of God (Families First) in every state ahead of every other serious candidate except Lees’s group, the Channel 7 people, Liberals for Forests in WA and Shayne Murphy in Tasmania. (The Greens, however have stuck to their side of the bargain & are preferencing the Democrats ahead of Labor everywhere.)

Meg Lees’s group, Australian Progressive Alliance, almost a category of its own: preferencing Families First ahead of everyone (including the Democrats) in Victoria; One Nation ahead of Greens, ALP & Coalition in Queensland (& Victoria & WA); Families First ahead of everyone except the Democrats in WA & SA; National Party (!) ahead of the Greens in WA.

(I’m told that in a student election at Monash last year, the returning officer disqualified the ticket called “I Hate Liberals” on the grounds
that its preferences went straight to the Liberal Club & therefore the title was misleading. It’s a pity the AEC hasn’t treated the Australian
Progressive Alliance the same way.)

David Ettridge, ex-One Nation, preferencing Liberals for Forests and Families First ahead of One Nation, and then the Democrats ahead of the rest.

The ALP preferencing Glenn Druery (liberals for forests) ahead of everyone else in NSW, then sending a third of their preferences to Fred
Nile ahead of the Greens – and in Victoria & Tasmania preferencing Families First ahead of the Greens.

The Nuclear Disarmament Party (remember them?) in NSW preferencing both Families First and One Nation ahead of the ALP.

The LaRouchites preferencing both Greens & Democrats ahead of One Nation (except in Queensland).

Druery’s liberals for forests in NSW preferencing everyone, including both major parties *and* One Nation, ahead of the Greens; in Queensland, liberals for forests preferencing the ALP ahead of everyone.

One Nation in Victoria preferencing directly to Richard Franklan, Aboriginal rights/Channel 7 candidate.

An interesting feature of the preferences is that, in terms of the parties’ professed values, it is the extremes on both sides that are
generally consistent, & the moderates who are hypocritical. So, Democrats (& sometimes Labor) preference religious nuts ahead of Greens, while Liberals preference Greens ahead of Labor. But Greens & religious nuts each put the other last.

We’ve had a good response to our call for more grubby preference deals. Preferences expert Bob Green writes:

The Greens preferences in Queensland warrant a more careful look. The Greens are exchanging preferences with the Non Custodial Parents party ahead of the Democrats. The NCPP wants to abolish the Family Court and child support.

And, they are exchanging preferences with Socilaist Alliance nationwide.
And, they are exchaning prefernces with the Great Australians party. According to the Great Australians website, they favour the re-introduction of national service, a tougher refugee policy, abolishing income tax and giving home owners the right to shoot burglers.

The Greens have done the deals and exchange with all three ahead of the Democrats.

Interestingly, the Greens have placed Pauline Hanson ahead of Family First. Apparently Pauline Hanson’s ‘moderate’ views are preferable to a party headed by an Indigenous woman.

I’d also nominate the ALP/CDP preference swap in NSW, which bizarrely is the one exception (presumably agreed to by the Greens) to the national Dems/Greens swap.

The Greens are also placing the ALP ahead of the Democrats in many lower house seats across the country, including Fairfax, home of the now quite infamous Dr Ivan Melloy.

Meanwhile, a Liberal writes:

One of the most shamelessly pragmatic (and horribly deluded) preference deals is that of the Family First party in the Senate in Tasmania. Family First believe that they can win a Senate seat in Tasmania.

With two of the more big-C conservative, family values Senators in Erica Betz and Guy Barnett heading the Tassie Liberals Senate ticket, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Family First would preference the Libs in the Senate.

Uh-uh …no they didn’t.

They instead directed to the ALP (and nasty ALP leftie David Price at number 3 will be the beneficiary) ahead of the Liberals, thinking that this would help them clinch the 10% or more in fractional votes that they will need to win a Senate seat (when they poll the 2 or 3% of primaries only that they realistically will achieve.)

Craziness – but may have effectively ended Liberal number 3 Stephen Parry’s chances of taking the last seat.

Labor in Tasmania has again put Liberal at the very bottom of the senate ticket that means CEC is considered a more legitimate. This has to put them in top place on the shabby list as they got busted for this in 2001 election and still don’t care. I understand that when you get down that low in flow it has little outcome but it is pretty ghastly symbolism.

Check out Antony Green’s preferences analysis here.

Finally, A Labor voter writes:

“You forgot the Coalition preferencing The Greens over Labor in seats where The Greens have a slim chance of outpolling Labor.
This is despite the Coalition claiming that a hung parliament with Greens holding the balance is a doomsday scenario.

And what about in the Senate? Are they preferencing The Greens over Labor there aswell?

Green staffer defends preference deals

Dear Crikey,

On the subject of the 20 most indefensible preference deals:

First, a defence of two accusations made against The Greens’ preference decisions:

ACCUSATION 1: “Greens giving first preferences to HEMP in the Queensland Senate and also putting the Socialist Alliance ahead of the Democrats in some states despite supposedly having a preference swap deal with the Dems.”

REALITY: The Greens preference deal with the Australian Democrats never obliged either side to direct preferences to each other ahead of all others. The deal was that they would swap preferences before going to either of the majors. That deal was kept.

ACCUSATION 2: “The Greens and Labor claiming to support Indigenous Australians and then doing a preference deal that will almost certainly see Aden Ridgeway, Australia’s only Indigenous Federal MP, voted out of the Senate.”

REALITY: The Greens preferenced the Democrats ahead of the Labor Party. What more could we have done – not accepted Labor preferences when they were offered to us? If the Democrats are voted out of the Senate, it will be because of a low primary vote. The Greens’ preference decisions will have nothing to do with it.

Second, some dubious preference deals:

1. The Democrats preferenced Family First ahead of The Greens and Labor in every state. From a progressive point of view, the worst thing that could happen to Greens preferences in the Senate is that they could elect Labor senators. But the worst thing that could happen to Democrat preferences in the Senate is that they could elect Liberals for Forests, Family First and the Christian Democrats – possibly even giving them the balance of power and handing the Senate to the Coalition.

2. Several progressive minor parties – including Progressive Labor Party and HEMP – have preferenced Glenn Druery’s Liberals for Forests in NSW ahead of The Greens and Labor. This will quite likely see their preferences elect this conservative candidate who has little, if anything, in common with their views.

3. Labor’s preferences in NSW go to Liberals for Forests ahead of The Greens and Democrats. Labor is therefore helping to elect Druery, thus undermining any attempt to form a progressive working majority in the Senate.

4. Labor’s preferences go to Family First in Tasmania and Victoria, and one-third go to Fred Nile in NSW, ahead of The Greens and Democrats. A Faustian pact if ever there was one.

Cheers, Hans Vans van Leeuwen
Greens staffer