Adam Bandt has challenged Labor not to hinder the Greens when they attempt to take inner-city seats from the Liberals, and says the Greens want a power-sharing agreement if the next election delivers a hung parliament.
In an interview ahead of the Greens’ special national conference on Saturday, Bandt says it is possible that the next federal election could deliver a similar result to the one in 2010, where Labor had to form government with the support of the crossbench, and Anthony Albanese had to manage the passage of legislation through the lower house without a majority.
“The parliament is very finely balanced,” the Greens leader said. “There is going to be a redistribution before the next election. Victoria is going to gain another seat, other states will potentially lose seats. There’s a very real prospect of another minority parliament at the next election, it would only take a very small swing to get another minority parliament and another potential power-sharing arrangement. I think there’s a very real prospect of a repeat of what we had 10 years ago.
“The Greens are up for a power-sharing arrangement with Labor, the question is, is Labor? At the moment Labor is trying to work out where it stands on some core issues, like climate and gas and coal – so perhaps they first have to resolve some of those internal debates.”
Bandt says the current public dispute between the shadow resources minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, and the shadow climate change and energy minister, Mark Butler, over climate policy “only helps the Coalition”.
Fitzgibbon, who thinks Labor is failing to reach its traditional blue-collar constituency because its policy offering on climate action is too progressive, this week suggested Labor could split in the future if it fails to reconcile its two constituencies.
Bandt said that dispute would keep Scott Morrison in government. “I think the days of Labor trying to walk both sides of the fence by saying one thing to the Australian and another thing to the Guardian are over – the internet exists,” he told Guardian Australia. “People are able to see through that fence-sitting.
“I want to see the government turfed out at the next election. Labor trying to walk both sides of the street gets in the way of trying to turf the Coalition out.
“When Labor tries to have a bet each way, it only helps the Coalition. I hope Labor comes down on the side of opposing the gas-led recovery and also [taxpayer] support for coal as well – that would put us in a stronger position to turf the government out and have a power-sharing parliament.”
Asked whether the Greens were prepared to not challenge Labor-held seats in the inner city as a goodwill gesture to facilitate the power-sharing he says he wants, Bandt said the Greens would always reserve the right to target seats where there was a solid progressive constituency.
But he said his party had deliberately targeted Liberal-held seats in recent times. He said rather than conducting a turf war in the inner city, Labor should not impede efforts by the Greens to take Liberal seats.
“At the last election, the Greens were campaigning strongly in seats like Kooyong and Higgins and we had our sights set on winning those Liberal-held seats, then Labor, for reasons only known to them, decided to switch candidates in Higgins at the last minute, putting a huge amount of resources into the seat, and started attacking the Greens and as a result, they diverted resources from places like Chisholm,” he said.
“Perhaps in hindsight, it wasn’t a great idea to come after the Greens when the Greens were coming after the Liberals. I think there’s some questions for everyone to ask going into the next election.
“There’s at least one more summer before the next election and possibly two. The climate crisis has not gone away and what we found over the last summer, whether you live in the seat of Higgins or Kooyong, or Melbourne or McNamara, people are not that far away from each other and when the smoke is so thick you can’t drop your kids off to childcare everyone feels it, no matter who they are voting for.
“Increasingly, as the climate crisis presses itself, and the hit on young people and women from the coronavirus crisis continues to be felt, more and more people will look to the Greens, so we will continue to campaign in those seats.
“Perhaps Labor needs to have a bit of a think about whether when the Greens are campaigning against Liberals, whether they want to help or hinder us? We think there is real opportunity for some of those inner-city Liberal seats to turn Green as the climate crisis hits.”
Bandt says he has a good relationship with the Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, that was forged in the minority parliament in 2010, when Albanese was the leader of the house and managed the legislative agenda for Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. “Obviously we have had tussles. Sometimes we try and win the same seats, we’ve been campaigning against each other, but there’s a level of respect, even though we have different views,” he said.
“I don’t feel like I’ve ever been done over or misled by him. After the 2010 parliament he has a few feathers in his cap. That was quite a feat, to steer legislation through that parliament. [Albanese] played a key role in doing that.”