EXCLUSIVE

Under fire: Christine Milne with Adam Bandt.

Under fire: Christine Milne with Adam Bandt. Photo: Penny Bradfield

Christine Milne has survived an aborted push to challenge her leadership - but some senior Greens claim the Tasmanian senator is now ''living on borrowed time''.

Fairfax Media can reveal the departure of Senator Milne's most senior political aide, Ben Oquist, is linked to moves inside the party to switch to Adam Bandt, her deputy.

A source close to the turmoil inside the leader's office said Senator Milne had demanded the resignation of Mr Oquist, her chief of staff, after she became aware he had backed moves for Mr Bandt to mount a challenge at Monday's party room meeting.

''This is about disloyalty. Ben was trying to get rid of Christine. Adam Bandt was going to make a run for the leadership but they called it off about an hour before party room because they didn't have the numbers,'' the source said.

Another Greens source confirmed a push to replace Senator Milne was on but there was ''not enough confidence they had the numbers''. Ms Milne's office declined to make any comment on Thursday and Mr Bandt, who is on holiday, could not be reached.

Senator Milne fronted the media alongside Mr Bandt after Monday's meeting to declare both leader and deputy had been re-elected to their positions unopposed. ''We are a strong, united team,'' she said.

Three days later, she had lost Mr Oquist and five other senior policy and media staff.

Senator Milne said the ''flat administrative structure'' she imposed when she took over from Bob Brown was the reason Mr Oquist had moved on. ''I think Ben had a view that it should be more hierarchical,'' she said.

Mr Oquist is travelling overseas and has made no other statement other than he left on good terms but ''fundamental differences of opinion in strategy had emerged''.

But senior Greens said the exit of Mr Oquist was unlikely to end the disquiet over the direction of the party under Senator Milne's leadership. There is a belief in some quarters that Mr Bandt can reconnect with the party's young, activist support base. The Greens primary vote went backwards at the election despite the swing against Labor.

A source said: ''She's on borrowed time, there's no two ways about it.'' Another said: ''She lost a third of the Greens vote. Now she has lost a third of her staff. That doesn't add up to a political leader doing a good job.''

Ms Milne is also dealing with internal party anger over the disappointing election campaign.

Fairfax has obtained an election review document written for the communications unit - known inside the party as ''RAWG'' ( the research and advertising working group) which included Greens campaign director Erin Farley.

The damning appraisal, written by Jeremy Press, talks of delays in getting approved messaging out, ''clumsy lines'' and state branches working independently of each other. Mr Press said the slogan ''we put people before profits'' had alienated the party from small business and farmers.