We’ve been hearing for months about this preference swap or that one, how Party A will aid Party B to foil the ambitions of Party C, and why these alleged pacts will outrage/delight/mystify average voters with no say in the bargaining. Well here’s the scoop: until tomorrow, it is all theatre
The Liberals are preferencing the Greens in Labor seats. Everybody knows. Preferencing the Greens everywhere other than in South Australia, where the two big parties are joining forces to lock Nick Xenophon candidates out of the House of Representatives.
Everywhere other than South Australia – and those other seats where they’ve done deals with the ALP of the kind Adam Bandt was talking about yesterday, deals to damage the Greens. And speaking of the Greens again: you can’t trust them. They’ll say they’ll preference you then run an open ticket.
Or so various conversations have been unfolding for the past five weeks, at increasing volumes in recent days.
Various websites have emerged, exposing the dirty deals. MPs – Labor MPs in particular – have set their staffers to work at generating memes for the faithful to Tweet and Tweet again and post on Facebook. Michael Kroger’s been enjoying his psych-ops across the Melbourne latte belt. And Albo’s been bogged down fighting crazy Green Trots in his own electorate.
What no one has been prepared to say is that this is all academic — and will remain so until the end of the week. Final candidate nominations for the election don’t close until midday tomorrow and the actual declaration of who’s running and ballot paper draws won’t occur until noon on Friday. No deals have been done. Everything so far has merely been shadow boxing. It’s been all about positioning. It’s been thinking aloud; thinking aloud as a form of market testing, floating a proposition and examining the response.
The final informed decision making will not and cannot come until party strategists are sure of the lie of the land. But once that occurs, it will come quickly. So the chorus of conspiracising will be cranked up to full volume for the next 48 hours.
The new Senate voting system gives the major parties a convenient cop-out. They don’t need to allocate preferences at all to those parties deemed beyond the political pale. So there will be no awkwardness for the Coalition over Rise up Australia or the Australian Liberty Alliance. But if that bit about preferencing the Greens in front of Labor proves to be more than a tactic designed to keep ALP tacticians guessing, Liberal leaders will face the Pauline Hanson cry: Please explain!