Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has ruled out concluding any minority government agreements with the Greens or independents but said whether Labor denies the Greens preferences is a matter for the ALP organisation.
After Tony Abbott made what he described as a “captain’s call” and ordered the Liberal organisation to put the Greens last, Rudd said: “All preference matters are handled by the national secretary of our party. I’m not aware of what agreements have been reached. Frankly I intend to leave it to them”.
The Liberal decision, which follows what the Victorian Liberals did at the last state election, makes much harder the battle Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt will have to hold onto his seat of Melbourne.
ABC election analysts Antony Green said Bandt would need to lift his primary vote from the 36.2% he got in 2010 to above 40%. Last time he received Liberal preferences.
Rudd, who was critical of Julia Gillard’s agreement with the Greens, said if Labor failed to get a majority “there will be no coalition arrangements with the Greens or minor parties. Furthermore, [there will be] no negotiated agreements as you’ve seen in the past, no deals as you’ve seen in the past.”
Labor’s objective was to be a majority government in its own right, he said, although he did not rule out leading a minority government but just put the kibosh on formal agreements to underpin one. Abbott has said he would not lead a minority government.
Earlier Abbott said: “This election is about producing a strong government … with a clear majority in the parliament”.
Australians “have come to a very firm conclusion that minority government was an experiment that failed and the last thing that they want is another hung parliament and another minority government”.
Rudd was “still hoping to do preference deals with the Greens and he’s still thinking that he might be able to negotiate his way back into power by deals with the Greens”, Abbott said.
“I say to Mr Rudd, show some leadership. Stand up for yourself. If you really believe in the Labor party, say that you will do what I have done and put the Greens last.
"This is my captain’s call and I say to Mr Rudd, be man enough to do the same”.
Greens leader Christine Milne said it just showed how effective Bandt had been.
Bandt said the Greens only needed a small increase in the Greens primary vote to hold the seat. He said he wore it as a badge of honour that Abbott would prefer a Labor MP in the seat to him. “The Greens are now the real opposition to Tony Abbott”.
Rudd also attacked Abbott over his comment on Tuesday that the Liberal candidate in Lindsay, Fiona Scott, had sex appeal. “I’ve decided it’s worth commenting on”, the PM said. “I know we normally say, ‘that’s for others to think about and respond to’, but this one is pretty odd, to be blunt.
"If any male employer stood up in a workplace anywhere in Australia and, pointing to a female staff member, said, ‘this person is a good staff member because they’ve got sex appeal’, I think people would scratch their heads at least. and I think the employer would be finding themselves in serious strife.
"So my policy’s pretty simple - that in modern Australia, neither sexism nor racism nor homophobia has any place whatsoever and I believe people look to our national leaders to set that sort of example”.
Abbott said “Look, as the kids suggested to me, I had a dad moment… a daggy dad moment”.