Greens leader Christine Milne has appealed to the Labor Party to abandon a plan to ''shut the Greens out of the Senate'' at the election replay in Western Australia.
As revealed by Fairfax Media on Thursday, senior figures from Labor's Left are behind a push to take the party's first preferences away from the Greens and instead direct them to a group of left and right-wing parties of the so-called minor parties alliance.
The preference strategy, which threatens to derail the political career of WA Greens senator Scott Ludlam, is partly retaliation for a preference alliance that the Greens entered into with Clive Palmer before the last election.
The Greens were desperate to hang on to Sarah Hanson-Young in South Australia and preferenced Palmer United above Labor in 30 lower house seats in the mainland states and Tasmania. The Greens also preferenced the PUP candidate in South Australia ahead of Labor's Don Farrell.
In return, Palmer gave preferences to the Greens in Queensland, SA, WA and the ACT. The strategy is credited with saving Senator Hanson-Young and is the reason that Senator Ludlam rose in the WA recount once PUP candidate Zhenya Wang was ruled out.
A Labor source said: ''It was a deal all about protecting Hanson-Young and was likely done by Milne's office and Hanson-Young. It was a remarkable reach across the political spectrum to do a deal with a coal baron who is one of the country's biggest contributors to climate change. Greens' voters might be surprised to learn they were in a preference deal with Clive Palmer.''
Senator Milne brushed off questions about the Palmer-Greens pact but called on Labor to rethink its strategy in WA to prevent the Coalition getting three senators elected or a right-wing micro party that will deal with the government.
''It is critical that the Labor Party recognise that the community really wants the Parliament to stand up to Tony Abbott and I think there would be people who would be incredibly disappointed if Labor actually facilitated an outcome that gave Tony Abbott absolute control of the Senate.''
Senator Ludlam said: ''This is the kind of genius that got [Family First senator] Steve Fielding elected in 2004. If you hand power to someone from a lucky dip then they are there for six years.''
A number of left-leaning minor parties, including the HEMP Party, have already decided to preference Labor ahead of the Greens. HEMP has accused the Greens of abandoning a promise made in preference negotiations in September.
The story Christine Milne pleads with Labor for Greens preference in WA first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.