Australian Greens leader Christine Milne expects the party’s support to strengthen this weekend in Western Australia from the “low tide” of the Tasmanian election.
But she has ducked questions about whether losing Greens senator Scott Ludlam’s seat in the Senate election re-run on Saturday would undermine her leadership.
The Greens’ 13.8 per cent vote at the Tasmanian state election – which saw the Liberals unseat the Labor government – was down from its record vote of 21.6 per cent in 2010 and the lowest since the 1998 election.
However, the Greens achieved a 0.6 per cent swing to them in the South Australian lower house state election and held on to an SA upper house seat.
Senator Milne told the National Press Club the Tasmanian result was “disappointing”.
“But we will see the vote turn around now,” she said, pointing to the WA Senate election and the Victorian state poll due in November.
Asked whether her leadership depended on improved results, Senator Milne joked that WA voters “better get (Senator Ludlam) over the line … a lot rests on it”.
Senator Milne said the WA election was important because electing two Labor and one Greens senator could shift a vote from conservatives to progressives.
Taking a line from the hit Australian comedy The Castle, she said there was a “vibe” across the nation that the Abbott government was taking the country down a path of “intolerance, discrimination and climate denialism”.
“They are governing for the greedy few, the vested interests of yesteryear, not the Australians of tomorrow,” she said.
“It’s like a CEO delivering for only a small component of a corporation.”
Senator Milne said Prime Minister Tony Abbott would find it difficult to negotiate with the “right-wing circus” in the Senate after July 1.
“The prime minister’s strategy has always been to crash through, but he will just crash because he simply doesn’t have the leadership skills to negotiate,” she said.
Senator Milne said she had only met with Mr Abbott once since the election on the issue of Tasmanian forests and he had failed to reiterate his pre-election commitment.