The local Greens have launched their campaign website, and it makes their upper house intentions clear. Sue For Parliament is not some highly legalistic method of entering the hallowed halls of Spring Street, but is instead the party's site for the Southen Metropolitan candidate, Sue Pennicuik. Local Prahran candidate Justin Walker is also featured on the site, complete with the seemingly obligatory blog.
It's no surprise that the Legislative Council is where the Greens are focussing their energies. The new multi-member electorates mean that the party is in with a realistic chance of winning up to four seats, and with it the balance of power. Although the polls may vary on just how high their vote will be (Galaxy had them on 7%, AC Neilson on 13%) the reality is that this election is likely to be a watershed for the watermelons.
It will be interesting to see how the major parties respond.
The ALP need to tread carefully. The two parties are in competition for the left-of-centre vote, and so the Labor Party will be tempted to demonise the Greens as the lunatic fringe, focussing on things such as their drug policy which may scare off moderate voters tempted to dip their toes in green waters. However, come November 25, the ALP will most likely need to form an agreement with the Greens to secure passage of bills through the Legistlative Council. This is unlikely to be a fully-fledged coalition agreement, but more likely an agreement on fundamental issues which will at least ensure that affairs of state can continue. If the demonised image of the Greens takes hold in the public imagination, it will be tough to sell a deal with the devil.
Things for the Liberals are interesting as well. It must be sorely tempting for the Liberals to give the Greens a foothold in order to divide the left between the Greens and the ALP. The best strategy is for the Liberals to play dead in electorates where the Greens are likely to poll well (eg Brunswick, Richmond, Melbourne) in the hope that the Greens candidate polls ahead of the Liberal candidate whilst the Labor candidate will poll first but fail to reach the 50%+1 necessary to win. Next, the Liberals need their preferences to flow strongly to the Greens ahead of Labor to push them beyond 50%.
Tempting as it must be, it's unlikely to happen, because:
a) it would involve the Liberals playing dead, when they will need to keep their primary vote up in order to boost their upper house prospects, and
b) it would involve the Liberals preferencing the Greens ahead of the Labor Party, which would contrast sharply with the Liberal's anti-Green drum-beating.
Instead, what I suspect we'll get from the Liberals is a campaign that makes clear that if the Labor Party are re-elected, they'll be doing so hand in hand with the Greens and all their Greenish loopiness. The only way to ensure this doesn't happen, is to vote Liberal (or, alteratively, to ensure an overwhelming ALP vote, but I don't think the Lib's campaign material will say that).
In the unlikely event that the Liberals are elected in November, then the upper house - and hence, the state - will be condemned to gridlock: common ground between Greens and the Liberals will be despeately hard to find. A little scary, but sure as hell would be fun to watch.