The Greens are confident of winning at least one more lower house seat at this month’s federal election, with the party increasingly buoyed by data showing its vote is increasing in Queensland.
Recent polling from Resolve Strategic, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, showed the Greens’ primary vote had jumped from 11% to 15% nationally between mid-April and month’s end.
“People should take polls with a grain of salt, but it’s the same direction with we’re picking up in our conversations as well,” the Greens leader, Adam Bandt, said.
But Labor voices insist they, not the Greens, are in the box seat to snare two inner-Brisbane seats held by the Coalition, in tight three-cornered contests.
Before the election, the Greens nominated five seats as its main targets; the Coalition-held seats of Ryan and Brisbane in Queensland, as well as Labor’s seat of Griffith in that state; plus Labor-held Macnamara in Victoria and Richmond in New South Wales.
While the Greens are still running hard in all five, the three Queensland seats are emerging as the party’s biggest hopes of winning a second House of Representatives seat.
“It’s a myth that Queenslanders are inherently conservative. They recognise politics isn’t delivering for them,” Bandt said.
“We’re gaining support in an election where the others have gone small, because we’re offering vision.”
Griffith is held by shadow water minister Terri Butler, on a 2.8% margin. The Greens candidate, Max Chandler-Mather, ran in 2019 and scored 23.6% of the vote – a 6.6% swing to the party. Brisbane, held by Coalition assistant minister Trevor Evans on a 4.9% margin, was nearly as strong for the Greens at the last election, with their challenger Andrew Bartlett attracting 22.3% of the vote, just 2% behind Labor.
Ryan is held by first-term Liberal MP Julian Simmonds on a 6% margin. Labor’s Peter Cossar, running again this year, got 24% of the vote – barely half of Simmonds’ primary vote. The Greens did not finish in the top two of any of the Queensland seats in 2019.
But Greens nominated Brisbane, Ryan and Griffith as major targets partly because the party holds Queensland state seats which overlap with those federal electorates, and say the party’s ground campaign has massively expanded since 2019. Bandt claimed the Greens were “level pegging or have our noses in front” in all five target seats, but was particularly enthused about feedback received in conversations the party was having with voters when doorknocking.
He said Griffith volunteers had recorded 20,000 conversations with voters, with another 14,000 in Ryan, and that the campaign in Brisbane was “gaining momentum”.
Other Greens sources said the prospects in Macnamara and Richmond were slimmer, despite growing enthusiasm.
But multiple Labor sources said they were very confident of holding Griffith, Richmond and Macnamara. Additionally the opposition is putting considerable resources of its own into Brisbane and Ryan, with Labor increasingly viewing those Coalition seats as among the few genuinely winnable seats in the Sunshine State.
Former prime minister John Howard joined Simmonds to campaign in Ryan last week.
Brisbane in particular has been a top-level focus for Labor, with Anthony Albanese personally helping launch candidate Madonna Jarrett’s campaign. The Labor leader even dusted off his turntables and performed a brief DJ set at the party, a rare appearance for “DJ Albo” after all but shelving the once-popular gimmick in recent years.
Albanese also took his travelling campaign roadshow to the Byron Bay Bluesfest, in the seat of Richmond, in the second week of the election. But Labor sources suggested that particular trip through northern NSW was more about the neighbouring Nationals-held seat of Page and the photo op value of Albanese at the festival, rather than about shoring up support in Richmond.
Albanese also made brief campaign stops in Macnamara with Labor MP Josh Burns in the campaign’s first week, and in Griffith with Butler in mid-April.
Labor sources in Queensland said the party was confident Butler would hold Griffith, and suggested they were in a better position than the Greens to claim Brisbane and Ryan.
One Labor politician said Brisbane was the party’s best prospect of winning a Coalition-held seat in the state, with Ryan shortly behind – partly based on preferences flowing from a strong Greens showing in those electorates. Labor expects to finish ahead of the Greens on primary votes, according to recent party polling.
The Greens also remain confident of picking up three extra Senate spots, as well as holding Dorinda Cox’s seat in Western Australia. The prospect of a second upper house seat in South Australia had been among the party’s most confident projections in recent months, with predictions the Greens would beat out current independent senator Rex Patrick for the last of the state’s six Senate positions. However, the re-emergence of Nick Xenophon as a candidate in that state has raised doubts, with some in the Greens describing the Senate race there as a “roulette”.
But other party sources pointed to recent polling suggesting the Greens may even poll high enough for candidate Barbara Pocock to claim the fifth Senate position in SA, leaving the final seat to another Labor senator or Xenophon.
In NSW, prominent state politician David Shoebridge is expected to win a spot in the federal Senate. Penny Allman-Payne is the Greens’ lead Queensland Senate candidate.