Family First is preferencing right-wing and conservative Christian parties in most lower house seats for the upcoming Victorian election, contradicting claims by state director Ashley Fenn that it would favour “centre” parties.

The preference flow also suggests Family First has been using its lower house candidates as bargaining chips in its negotiations for upper house preferences with the Liberal Party.

Family First is contesting 39 unwinnable lower house seats in Victoria. These include the 21 most marginally held seats, all of the seats where the contest is close between Labor and the Greens, and the second and third most marginal Nationals-held seats.

Crucially, Family First has preferenced the Coalition parties ahead of Labor in every lower house seat the party is contesting. The Liberals are returning the favour, preferencing Family First second in 26 of the 39 seats they are contesting, and third in a further eight. The Liberal party has also preferenced Family First second in the upper house region of Northern Metropolitan.

Family First has also reportedly negotiated highly favourable preference deals with the Liberals and many of the minor parties in Northern Metropolitan, where its candidate is Brendan Fenn, a family member and business associate of Ashley Fenn.

Last week, Ashley told UniPollWatch that Family First was allocating preferences on a seat-by-seat basis and said: “You could probably say we start centre, then Right, then to the Left.” He added Family First would also take into account individual candidates’ positions on issues such as abortion and same sex marriage.

But an analysis of Family First’s how-to-vote cards for the lower house shows that, in fact, the party is preferencing far-right parties wherever that is an option, giving its first preferences to the socially conservative Australian Christians party second in all nine of the lower house seats that the two parties are contesting.

Family First is also preferencing far-right, anti-Islamic Rise Up Australia Party second in 10 of the 14 lower house seats the two parties are contesting and third in the other four.

None of the 36 independents in seats where Family First is running get better than fourth preference.

Family First policies include opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, a rejection of anthropogenic climate change, and an abandonment of nearly all restrictions on housing development in Melbourne’s fringe.

The Australian Christians Party believes the Biblical tradition of prioritising family integrity is the philosophical and economical basis for society. The party is also campaigning against same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples. It sees prostitution as “modern-day slavery”, advocates raising the minimum age for alcohol consumption to 21 and is against harm minimisation measures for treating drug addiction.

Rise Up Australia also has many policies in common with both the Australian Christians and Family First, namely the repeal of Section 8 of the Abortion Law Reform Act, a roll-back of the “UN-sanctioned, homosexuality-promoting” Safe Schools program, rejection of voluntary euthanasia and for political representation of Judeo-Christian beliefs.

On its website the party states:

“We love the Muslim people but oppose their texts (Quran/Koran) and Islamic doctrine and ideology because it is oppressive and incompatible with the Australian way of life.”

The Australian Christians party skirts around the phrase “climate change”, but Rise Up Australia expressly states that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide cannot have an impact on climate, stating it “is a quasi-religious hypothesis unproven by objective scientific facts”.

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