'A dust up for the sake of it'

A STOUSH between NSW Labor and the Greens over preferences for the next Federal election was a "dust up for the sake of it", a political science expert from the Australian National University said on Monday.

Plans from Labor's New South Wales right faction to pull its preferences from the Greens, announced on Saturday, sparked a verbal row between the two parties.

The public argument has highlighted long-held concerns of some within the Labor Party that voters may believe the Greens are the controlling force of the traditional workers' party nationally.

But ANU's Professor John Wanna said both parties had relied on the other's preferences for the past two elections, and Labor only holds government due to its alliance with the Greens.

Prof Wanna said that in the lower house, several incumbent Labor MPs in marginal seats were relying on Green preferences; while the opposite was true for the Greens in the Senate.

While he said Greens potentially could gain up to six inner city seats in the House of Representatives at the next election, without Greens preferences, Labor could lose marginal regional seats, particularly in Queensland.

"I think it's really been a dust-up to make a bit of noise, and you've got to look especially at the vote in Queensland, where there were 20% swings against Labor," Prof Wanna said.

"When you actually look at their previous margins that means up to 50% of Labor's own base in Queensland deserted the party, so they would be looking to anything that might help them pick that vote up."

He said that while the much-publicised dust-up between the two parties was likely airing some internal grievances, it was likely a ploy for the only two left-wing political parties trying to differentiate their brands to the public.

Prof Wanna said after crushing defeats for Labor in Queensland and New South Wales, the party was facing an uphill battle for the next federal election.

But he said the threats at a federal level were likely empty threats, due to the interdependence of the two parties.


Outcry over Greens preferences call

THE Greens have hit out at a call from a New South Wales Labor power broker to take away Labor preferences from the far-left party.

NSW Labor general secretary Sam Dastyari told the Weekend Australian he planned to move a motion at the party's state Labor conference this week to pull the party's preferences for the Greens.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne said such calls failed to take into account the political reality at a Federal level, where no one party currently had the numbers to form a government.

Senator Milne said Mr Dastyari's comments were attacking the party's base and "accelerating their own demise".

Mr Dastyari, a protégé of senior Labor right figures including Mark Arbib, told Sky News the Greens were an extremist party akin to Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party.

He said the Greens and Labor were not in an alliance, but the Federal branch of the party was right to negotiate with the Greens in the current political climate.

Mr Dastyari's comments reflect similar past comments by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who said the Greens did not represent Labor's traditional base of workers.

The heightened political climate was not helped by the current impasse on asylum seekers, which continues to be one of the most divisive issues in federal politics.

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