The Greens’ right-wing preference strategy in South Australia has come home to roost with a re-elected Sarah Hanson-Young gifting Tony Abbott’s good mate and conservative Family First candidate Bob Day the Senate balance of power.

In an echo of Victorian Labor’s botched 2004 deal that saw Steve Fielding elected ahead of Jacinta Collins, the pushing of the Senate button yesterday saw leadership aspirant Hanson-Young returned with anti-gay marriage advocate Day at five and Liberal Simon Birmingham at six. Day received 3.76% of the primary vote or 0.26 of a quota in the race, which was formally declared at Adelaide’s Stamford Plaza hotel this morning.

A summary of the key preference flows in SA shows that the decision of the party to go rogue and draft in Bob Brown to directly negotiate with the micro-right will likely result in a tranche of Tory policies becoming Australian law.

Senior party powerbrokers, including Brown, resigned Christine Milne chief-of-staff Ben Oquist and Hanson-Young herself decided to throw ideology to the wind in South Australia, placing the Palmer United Party and Katter’s Australian Party ahead of Labor and other micros ahead of Nick Xenophon’s No. 2 candidate Stirling Griff. The approach angered Labor with senior figures now extremely reticent to deal again with the Greens in 2016 — a scenario that if rolled out nationally could deny the party a single Senate seat.

It has also caused consternation inside the Greens with other states irate at the perverse consequences of “dealing with the devil”.

The South Australian party effectively baulked at the national preferences committee process with Hanson-Young, Brown and Oquist talking with the PUP, Xenophon and the micros directly. It appears that in return, PUP put the Greens before Labor, the Liberals and Griff and that Katter placed the Greens before Labor and Griff. The No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics placed the Greens before Labor and Griff.

In the wash-up, Hanson-Young was elected on PUP and Labor preferences but her preferences went on to elect Day instead of Griff. In another grim irony, the other possible party the Greens could have elected was the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics.

The Greens published a full-page SA newspaper ad in the lead-up to polling day claiming a vote for Xenophon was a vote for the Liberals. In fact, Xenophon’s ticket was split down the middle. It drew an angry rebuke from the independent Senator, who accused the party of peddling desperate “lies”.

The analysis of the Greens’ group voting ticket shows the parties placed before Xenophon’s Griff were part of the Glenn Druery-organised “Minor Party Alliance” — Crikey understands the Greens were asked to preference certain parties within the Alliance to receive a return flow. The usually ethical Greens didn’t play ball with Druery elsewhere in the country with the SA anomaly producing the first Family First Senator since Fielding ascending to the red leather on Greens preferences. The crucial “choke point” in the race can be seen at count 33 on Antony Green’s Senate calculator.

Day is staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage — the only elected Senator aside from Liberal Cory Bernardi who continues to hold out against the tide of equal love.

Here’s an analysis of where Greens’ preferences went:

  • Went to PUP and Katter’s Australian Party before Labor’s #2 candidate Don Farrell (where Labor’s second candidate is preferenced is crucial as their first pick, Senator Penny Wong, would be elected on primary votes)
  • Went to PUP, Katter, Country Alliance, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts, Shooters and Fishers, Australian Christians, the Nationals, Family First, Liberal Democrats, DLP and the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics before Xenophon’s running mate (where Senator Xenophon is preferenced is irrelevant as he would always be elected on primary votes).

And what they got:

  • Palmer placed Greens before Labor, Liberal and Xenophon #2.
  • Katter placed Greens before Labor and Xenophon #2.
  • No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics placed Greens before Labor, Xenophon #2.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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