Preference negotiations were always going to be one of the most interesting aspects of this campaign and we’ve now caught up with Labor, Liberal and the Greens over the past fortnight. These will be the most complex preference negotiations in Victorian history because we now have eight upper house regions, each of which will require a Senate-style negotiation.

The Greens and Labor are keen to get deals bedded down early, thereby avoiding the 2004 Senate fiasco of Family First turning up on the last day with an amended proposal that resulted in Labor preferences putting Steve Fielding in the Senate.

It all comes down to who will win the fifth and final spot in each region. Some of them are no brainers – such as South Eastern Metropolitan (3 ALP and 2 Liberal) and Northern Metropolitan (3 ALP, 1 Liberal and 1 Green).

Everyone expects Labor and the Greens will do a fairly comprehensive state-wide deal that will result in either Labor retaining the balance of power or needing the support of one or two Greens.

After all, the Greens haven’t got many people to talk to because they’ll be putting Family First near the bottom no matter what and you can’t imagine them doing deals with the Libs or Nats.

Therefore, the question for People Power is whether we can break into the Greens-ALP deal to give ourselves a chance in a couple of regions, such as Western Metro, Eastern Victoria, Eastern Victoria, Northern Victoria and my seat of Southern Metro.

Our preferences strategy is to be right in the middle and friendly with everyone such that hopefully the worst we do anywhere is third. For instance, the Libs and Nats are hardly going to put us behind Labor or the Greens given the long-standing enmities.

We’re aiming to be nobody’s stooge by splitting our preferences broadly 50-50 between ALP-Liberal and Greens-Family First. Getting as many votes as possible state-wide is an obvious goal but we’ll be very disappointed if we can’t get just one MP into the Parliament and that will require smart preference deals backed up resources and a good campaign.

Peter Fray

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