Theresa Green

The Queensland Greens went into the election suffering internal problems that would have derailed the campaign of a major party, but The Poll Bludger is calculating that bedlam and disarray are not entirely unattractive to the Greens’ constituency and the party’s candidates will not suffer much damage to their primary vote. For the time being two Greens candidates appear of interest – ABC broadcaster and household name Andrew Carroll in Mount Coot-tha, and Theresa Millard in Townsville.

The media spotlight is today upon the latter contest following Millard’s claims she had been approached by operatives for Mike Reynolds, her Labor opponent and erstwhile employer, offering her a deal in which she would "run dead" in exchange for support for her tilt at a spot on local council. But Millard had already proved that she had learned a thing or two in her capacity as Reynolds’ media adviser by achieving a sensational amount of local coverage in her pre-election campaigning, making almost daily appearances in the Townsville Bulletin throughout December and the early part of this year. It may be wondered how well Millard’s vocal advocacy for the area’s "marginalised" citizens would play in regional Queensland, where the cause of drunken itinerants is not normally considered a vote-winner. But she had certainly filled the vital prerequisite for success for non-major party candidates in establishing her presence within the local area. The current media frenzy should consolidate this achievement and perhaps establish her in the mind of her electorate as a paragon of non-partisan purity who stands above the cynical deal-making and sordid politicking that give the major parties a bad name.

Her chances of actually getting elected depend very much on what ends up happening with Liberal preferences. Greg Barns recently argued that a mooted ALP preference deal would put them out of the hunt by robbing them of Liberal preferences, and if he’s right the party’s state director Drew Hutton will indeed have a lot to answer for. The Greens haven’t run a candidate in Townsville since 1995 when they polled a very healthy 13.8 per cent, their second best performance in the state. Millard’s first challenge is to beat the Liberal candidate into second place, which looks like a pretty big ask given the Liberals polled 35.5 per cent of the vote last time around. It’s certainly not impossible though, provided Liberal preferences flow to her rather than exhausting once she’s over that hurdle. That of course depends largely on how things end up on the Liberal how-to-vote card – more details on that as the situation unfolds.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.