Has Clive Palmer’s United Party struck a deal with the Greens in Victoria’s upper house race ahead of the November 29 state election? A well-placed source believes that is the case, but in the fluid environment of mistrust and changing allegiances leading up to the poll the chess board could be cleared and relaid by the Sunday group voting ticket deadline.

Greens Leader Greg Barber would not confirm or deny the claim. “The Greens will be preferencing like-minded parties first, Animals [Justice Party], Bicycles [Australian Cyclists], [The Basics’] Rock’n’Roll [Party], etc,” he said.

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Leaders from the Labor and Liberal parties have ruled out preferencing the Greens, with Premier Denis Napthine vowing to put the Greens last on the ballot, and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews saying Labor would not make any deal with the Greens.

But Barber is still holding out some hope for a major party boost: “We have not by any means finalised our preferences, and it looks like Labor and Liberal are still negotiating.”

Most minor parties Crikey has canvassed are set to form alliances on ideological grounds with some firm bases. By process of elimination the preference arrangements are becoming clearer.

The three Christian values parties — the Democratic Labour Party, Rise Up Australia and the Australian Christian Party — have announced they will preference each other and channel their preferences towards another anti-abortion party. Labor will not deal with RUAP.

DLP strategist Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins said: “We would much rather see the balance of power held by a minor party,” adding that she wanted a religious party to win the balance.

Family First, which is at war with the Sex Party for a seat in the Northern Metropolitan region, declined a place in the religious alliance. This has led to suspicions Family First is in an alliance with the Liberals, and possibly with the Shooters and Fishers and People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters party.  FF only took 51,000 Victorian votes in the 2013 federal election — well short of quota for even one Victorian seat, so if that is an indication of its support the party will need help. Family First’s Ashley Fenn declined to comment.

There are other strange movements with micro-parties; one is that Portland’s Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell’s Vote 1 Local Jobs has embarked on a franchise, with his son Nathan Purcell as a candidate in the Northern Metropolitan seat from its origins in Western Victoria. “We’ve just got an interest there,” Purcell said, without explaining further.

The Australian Country Alliance’s rivalry with the Nationals and their animosity with the Greens also closes down some variables. Count the Shooters and Fishers Party as anti-Green as well on matters like duck shooting and conservation.

ACA will take a never-say-never approach to preferences, but the party is not likely to preference major parties in second place. ACA is a good bet for a seat in northern Victoria, as the party was about 1900 votes away from a seat there in 2010. It has also been suggested ACA has struck a deal with People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters.

Grouping together in the Left will be the Sex Party, who are dealing with the Greens and have a history of dealing with the Australian Country Alliance. The Sex Party’s best chance is in the Northern Metropolitan upper house seat, where Barber draws a primary vote in excess of his quota but not enough to win a second seat.

The Sex Party’s support of voluntary assisted dying policy will be a roadblock to getting the religious alliance’s support — the pro-euthanasia parties will likely funnel their preferences to the Greens and Sex Party and possibly the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats are a wildcard in this ballot — they are pro-euthanasia and stand for small government, so both sides of politics can find sympathetic points. They have also been scoring runs with LDP NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm, drawing attention to libertarianism in the Senate.

In the 2013 federal poll they scooped up the lazy donkey vote by sheer luck of being first on the ballot draw and grabbed Liberal votes due to their name — they took about 10% of the vote, or an astonishing 415,901. LDP strategist Les Hughes says his party can bridge the divide in Victoria. “The fact is we need preferences, we do,” he said. “I hope to see minor parties in … I don’t agree with them all. I disagree with some more than others. But I would rather an honest minor party that tells me what they believe.”

Another variable is the Australian Cyclists Party. “We are preferencing to win and doing our best to use the system to get a voice for cyclists in Parliament,” said party strategist Richard Bowen. He says it’s “no use to us” to be another cycling advocacy group. After a short linkage with vote herder Glen Druery the Cyclists Party separated, but members are discussing their preferences with all 20 other parties and running for election in all eight upper house districts. Of the parties they favoured, the Basics’ Rock ‘n’ Roll party and the Sex Party were mentioned. “I suspect it will be right down to the wire,” Bowen said.

For his part, Druery will not reveal who his clients are and has avoided commenting on the jockeying for preferences.

Group voting tickets are expected to be made public on Sunday afternoon.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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