The Liberal Party has not ruled out preferencing the Greens ahead of Labor in marginal Victorian seats, though both major parties say they will not form government with the Greens if there is a hung parliament after the election.
After reports of a potential Liberal-Greens preference agreement, Labor has accused the Greens of striking an “unholy” deal to unseat the ALP in some Melbourne seats.
It said the Greens would receive Liberal preferences, while the Greens would leave preferences up to the individual.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said there was no deal, but some local Greens braches might leave preferences open.
When pressed on the issue on Tuesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would not rule out having created informal preferencing arrangements.
“The federal director will decide how preferences are allocated,” he said.
Liberal Party director Tony Nutt also issued a statement saying “no decisions” had been made on preferences, but did not rule out giving them to the Greens.
Bandt said Greens open to Coalition deal
But Mr Turnbull was quick to rule out working with the Greens after the election, following a proposal from the party’s lone MP.
Greens MP Adam Bandt told the ABC’s Q&A program that his party was open to a Labor-Greens deal if the July 2 poll delivered another hung parliament.
He said crossbench MPs Andrew Wilkie, Bob Katter and Cathy McGowan had a strong chance of being re-elected and said he hoped more Greens would join him in the Lower House.
“That may then result in as in 2010 – no side winning,” Mr Bandt said.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) May 9, 2016
He said the Greens would prefer to talk to Labor about forming government, not the Coalition, saying climate change and renewable energy would be at the top of his list for negotiating with the ALP.
On Tuesday, Mr Turnbull vowed the Coalition would not strike a deal with the minor party under any circumstances.
“There is absolutely no chance of that – yes I can rule out any collaboration with the Greens,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull instead claimed Labor and the Greens were itching to strike another agreement, saying the Greens’ agenda would dominate parliament if that happened.
The PM said most voters looked back on the previous hung parliament “with a degree of horror”.
“What will be the price of the Greens’ pending deal with Labor, which they’ve been promoting?” he said.
“It will be much higher taxes … a relaxation of our border protection rules.”
Shorten on deal: ‘He’s dreaming’
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also moved to head off talk of a new deal and emphasised how determined he was to win enough seats to form government in his own right.
“He’s dreaming. Labor will fight this election to form its own Government,” he said.
Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said the deal struck with the Greens in 2010 hurt the ALP.
“I think most Australians would be horrified by the idea of another hung parliament,” she said.
“It was extraordinarily difficult … some of the compromises that we made I think cost us quite dearly during that time in government.”