Anger has been strongest among the Greens party lower house candidates Cyndi Dawes, the former spin-doctor for the troubled Myki ticketing system, and Brian Walters, a multi-millionaire property developer who has cashed in on central Queenslandâ€™s mining boom with warehouse developments and has represented fellow millionaire property developer (and Nazi war criminal) Konrad Kalejs, who was the chief guard at a Nazi concentration camp that killed 30,000.
The two are believed to be furious at public pronouncements by de facto Greens leader and numbers-man Greg Barber that he â€œheld all the cardsâ€ in preference negotiations with Labor and the Liberals. They say it undermined the efforts of Marxist Green preference negotiator Ken McAlpine (no relation to the one and true Ken McAlpine of the Labor Right) who was trying to keep as many options as possible.
Barberâ€™s supporters insist he was quoted out of context by hostile media barons intent on damaging the party.
The assertion seems to have been a tipping point in the Greens partyâ€™s relationship with many of the other parties, including Labor and the smaller parties.
Parties that fed preferences to the Greens at the federal election â€“ the Liberals and Sex party â€“ have turned their back on them in a way that has surprised observers.
Dawes and Walters are the principal anti-Barber voices in the Greens party as a result, complaining that they have sunk tens of thousands of dollars of their own money into a campaign on the basis they would receive Liberal preferences and are now having to compete on their own. The Greens partyâ€™s usually upbeat Anne Martinelli in Northcote was apparently in tears prior to the Greens Treasury Gardens press conference and nearly went home before being persuaded to attend, insiders say.
Barberâ€™s backers insist itâ€™s too early to write-off any seat and point to private polling and Gary Morganâ€™s small-sample size poll as indicating their primary vote will soar Saturday week.
One close Greens observer says â€œItâ€™s clear the Greens party has botched this preference deal, they are torn between their desire for a Labor government on one hand and their understandable ambition to elect as many people as possible. The only way out for them is to show they can and will govern with and preference to the Liberal party on a case-by-case basis. It was interesting to see Brian Walters say this only to be later contradicted by Greg Barber. This approach has been damaging and I believe is stalling their growth. I think theyâ€™ll be many disappointed Greens and while some will blame Greg Barber they should actually be looking at themselves. They can either replace Labor as they say they want to or keep giving them preferences ahead of the Liberals helping Laborâ€™s re-election. I doubt they can do both. Labor talks about a Liberal-Greens preference deal often enough, itâ€™s now clear the Greens should have done one when they had the chance. It might be too late now.â€
Dr Adam Bandt PhD (Marxism), the federal Melbourne MP whose first act as an elected official was to employ his girlfriend in his electorate office, must be wondering whether heâ€™ll be able to get Liberal preferences a second time.