Will Victoria’s 2006 election be remembered as the one in which the rank and file fought back?

When the ALP geniuses at Spring Street threatened to once again preference to Family First – out of both an addled notion of strategic advantage and a right-wing Catholic hatred of the Greens – open revolt by branch members forced them to back down.

One dissident group had already mocked up a provisional anti-FF preference how-to-vote card and had it ready to roll if the deal went down.

Now the Greens themselves may be on the end of this, with some of their supporters jacking up over the notion of sending preferences to People Power, of which Crikey readers may vaguely have heard.

The sudden realisation that PP’s across-the-board preference deals have put it in the position to take upper-house seats on the basis of a 4-5% primary vote has focused the minds of some of the watermelon faction amongst green supporters – the old hard left who believe that the vegan army represents the best existing focus.

It’s not high-profile candidate Stephen Mayne they have the biggest problem with – though their admiration for his liberal political values does not diminish their disquiet at his free-marketeering.

It’s second banana Vern Hughes, who is regarded as both a tireless campaigner on behalf of the marginalised, especially in disability areas, and a tiresome tubthumper on the themes of “social capital,” beyond left and right, exhaustion of all known et cetera – stuff that is regarded, correctly or otherwise, as giving the free market a free kick. There’s also disquiet about northern metro candidate Barbara Biggs, whose militant anti-closed shop activity briefly caused a tram strike in the heady days of the late 70s.

Now a campaign has started to use the optional preferential nature of the Vic upper house to stymie party-to-party deals, by letting preferences run out after the minimum of five. Should it succeed it might put an end not only to Shooters Party “slingshot” style successes, but to the capacity of parties to guarantee preferences altogether.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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