The big bombshell of this year’s Victorian election campaign was dropped yesterday, with the Liberals’ shock announcement that it will direct preferences to the ALP ahead of the Greens.

Victorian Liberal party president David Kemp and state director Tony Nutt said the party had resolved to “put the Greens last” in every lower house seat. This effectively means the Greens’ hopes of becoming the deal-makers in Victorian politics have been quashed and they are unlikely to win any seats in the lower house.

The battleground has fundamentally changed. The ALP now don’t need to relentlessly attack the Greens to protect its chances of securing at-risk inner-city seats and can now focus on their traditional nemesis, the Liberals.

What to make of it? Here’s what the pundits are saying:

The Age

Paul Austin: Green light for Ballieu to reveal his full vision

The Liberals’ bombshell decision on preferences changes everything.

First, the Greens, instead of storming the lower house as they had hoped, now face the prospect of winning no seats in the house of power.

Paul Austin and David Rood: Libs’ preference bombshell

The de facto Coalition-Labor alliance to shut out the Greens will come as a devastating blow to the minor party, which had hoped to win up to four lower house seats and become the kingmakers of Victorian politics.

Liberal heavyweights including Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu, party president David Kemp and state director Tony Nutt last night resolved to ”put the Greens last” in all 88 lower house seats.

Editorial: Baillieu makes a pitch for commuter votes to unseat Labor

If Labor does lose its majority it may be because of the increasing number of voters who are turning to the Greens, but yesterday’s decision by the Coalition to preference the Greens last in Lower House seats makes the smaller party’s task harder.

The Herald Sun

Stephen McMahon: Liberals to preference Labor ahead of Greens at November 27 election

The Liberal Party last night also announced it would preference the Greens last in all Lower House seats, dashing the party’s hopes of a bigger presence in Victorian politics and giving Labor breathing space in key inner-city seats.

With two weeks of campaigning left, the Coalition’s spendathon is already equal with its commitments for the entire 2006 campaign – and almost double what Labor has promised this time round.

774 ABC Melbourne

Preference deals deliver blow to Greens

Victoria’s major political parties have launched scathing attacks on each other following the release of preference deals for the state election on November 27.

Labor and the Coalition have engaged in a war of words during the last fortnight, over which party would preference the Greens.

The Australian

Milanda Rout: Liberal decision will hurt Greens

The Liberal Party had also feared a backlash among voters, party members and financial backers after the disquiet over the election of federal Greens MP Adam Bandt on the back of Coalition preferences.