The Greens are threatening to unleash a major climate campaign in inner-city electorates if their fresh attempt to block public funding for gas exploration in the Northern Territory is defeated on Wednesday.
But the Greens' bid is doomed to fail, with Labor confirming it would side with the Coalition to oppose a motion to cancel $50 million worth of taxpayer-funded grants for gas exploration in the Beetaloo basin.
Ahead of the debate, Opposition resources spokesman Madeleine King has also sought to position Labor in the middle ground of the political debate over gas.
"It suits both the government and the Greens' political interests to take extreme positions on gas, Labor will remain the sensible player in the middle looking out for Australia's interests," she told The Canberra Times.
In what the Greens are framing as the federal Parliament's first test on climate since the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the Senate will again debate the merits of pumping public money into opening up the gas basin.
Labor has sided with the Coalition to sink a previous attempt to block the gas grants, despite reservations from some members - including Northern Territory senator Malarndirri McCarthy.
The Opposition has asked the auditor-general to investigate the grants after it emerged that $21 million had been handed to a company with links to the Liberals.
Greens leader Adam Bandt was on Tuesday piling the pressure on Labor, arguing its position would determine the fate of the grants given the Coalition wouldn't budge.
After warnings at COP26 about the urgent need to slash emission in order to keep alive hopes of containing global warming to 1.5 degrees, Mr Bandt said it was a "climate crime" to be allowing more coal and gas projects.
He warned that if the Senate motion failed, the Greens would launch a major new campaign in the 10 inner-city seats which the party has been targeting ahead of the next federal election.
The seat of Canberra, held by Labor's Alicia Payne, is among the Liberal and Labor electorates in the Greens' sights.
While Mr Bandt warned that both major parties would lose seats if it backed the Beetaloo grants, he suggested the repercussions would be more significant for Labor.
"If Labor doesn't support the Greens in stopping this massive new gas climate bomb, it will haunt Labor all the way to the next election," he said.
Ms King confirmed Labor would not support the Greens' motion.
She reiterated that the grants were only for exploration in the basin, which was still in its early stages. It remained unclear how much of the resource would be"technologically and economically viable to extract", she said.
Ms King noted that the Northern Territory government had committed to working with the federal government to ensure there was no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions from Australia from the Beetaloo.
She again threw Labor's support behind the gas sector.
"Australia's electricity generation, both in WA and the East Coast energy grid, relies on natural gas to keep lights on, and will do for decades to come," she said.
Ms King said Labor had ratified the Kyoto agreement, "supercharged" Australia's renewable energy sector and put the country on a "path of sharply declining emissions".
"The Greens party's record is voting down the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, leading directly to a lost decade of climate action," she said.