Libs need a hard sell to curry Greens favour

Libs need a hard sell to curry Greens favour

Well, this is interesting.

The Canberra Liberals look to have made themselves the largest party in the Legislative Assembly with big gains in the territory election taking the party to an all-time high of eight seats.

Liberal leader Zed Seselja with wife Ros and his children.

Liberal leader Zed Seselja with wife Ros and his children.Credit:Colleen Petch

But they didn't win the majority of seats they need to form government in their own right.

The Liberals inflicted a big defeat on the ACT Greens, taking seats from Caroline Le Couteur in Molonglo and Amanda Bresnan in Brindabella, a huge achievement.

Greens leader Meredith Hunter at the tally room on election night.

Greens leader Meredith Hunter at the tally room on election night.Credit:Graham Tidy

But Zed Seselja's team didn't make a dent in Labor's numbers and look to have fallen short of their goal, the complete destruction of the Greens as a balance-of-power outfit.

If Seselja wants to be chief minister he now needs to sit down and cut a deal with the two Greens who look likely to survive the bloodletting, Shane Rattenbury and Meredith Hunter.

It won't be easy.

Seselja will argue that the Greens should have a responsibility to support the largest part in the Assembly, a powerful case.

But the Greens could always justify re-installing Labor leader Katy Gallagher as chief minister by arguing that there are more progressive MLAs than conservative ones and that Labor has looked to outpolled the Liberals, slightly.

The Liberals leader will need all of his powers of persuasion for this one. But tonight at least, Seselja was not speaking the language of diplomacy, speaking of the Greens being rejected by the community, hardly toning down the anti-Green rhetoric at all.

He has already ruled out repeating what he did in 2008, offering the cross-benchers a ministry in return for their support, but these things can be glossed over by politicians. It's happened plenty of times in the past.

But policy is where the two parties are worlds apart. Climate change and its own sub-genre of policy issues, marriage equality, public transport, we could go on. But crucially there's a massive gulf between the two on the issue that will be remembered as defining this poll tax - reform.

The Greens support Andrew Barr's tax package, the one that the Liberals still insist will triple your rates, theGreens voted for it in this year's budget. They might not like the way it was sold, or not sold, to the electorate, but they still own it.

It would be a hard sell for the Greens to give the go-ahead to a party committed to tearing up the tax reforms. Supporting the Liberals would be a hard sell to the Greens grassroots full stop.


Then there are the, ahem, personal issues. It's personal between Zed Seselja, and his Liberals colleague Jeremy Hanson and Shane Rattenbury, personal between Meredith Hunter and Seselja, Hanson too. Looks to be personal between Hunter and the Liberals' Vicki Dunne too.

So if Seselja is to capitalise on his wins last night, he will need every bit of those people skills of his.

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