As the closer-than-usual ACT Senate race heats up, Labor has preferenced independent candidates David Pocock and Kim Rubenstein ahead of the Greens.
The Greens have listed Kim Rubenstein’s party (Kim 4 Canberra) second, Mr Pocock third and the Australian Labor Party fifth.
It’s understood independent candidate Mr Pocock will suggest voter preferences flow to the only other independent.
Beyond this, Professor Rubenstein said she encouraged people to decide themselves who they place on the ballot paper and vote in line with their values.
“If it is because I am an independent, then they should preference David Pocock,” she said.
“If it is because I am a woman, then they should preference the other strong women in the Senate race.”
The Greens are disappointed by this move, arguing it plays into the hands of the incumbent Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja.
Senator Seselja has also not made any suggestions regarding where voter preferences should go.
Instead, a spokesperson for the Canberra Liberals said Canberrans are being asked to vote ‘1 Liberal’ and then to complete a formal ballot in the order of their choice.
The spokesperson warned against the Greens, however.
“The most dangerous party on the ballot paper at this election is the Greens who have a deliberate policy to put our national security at risk with their policy to cut defence spending in half. Any party or candidate who preferences the Greens is putting our national security at risk,” they said.
Senator Seselja has sought to paint Mr Pocock as an extreme green independent.
“It is not the time to risk handing over power to an extreme Labor-Greens-green independent alliance, and make no mistake, Pocock sits on the Extinction Rebellion end of the extreme greens,” Senator Seselja said earlier this month.
But the ACT Greens are disappointed with the decision of both Mr Pocock and Professor Rubenstein not to encourage voter preferences away from the Canberra Liberals.
A spokesperson for the party said it “boggles the mind that people with that platform would not actively encourage voters away from the incumbent conservative [Senator] Seselja”.
Both independents are running on a platform of climate action and integrity, issues which the Greens’ spokesperson argued Senator Seselja had taken the opposite position on throughout his career.
“This has played right into the Liberals’ strategy. [Senator Seselja] has been deliberately running a misinformation and scare campaign to try and ensure that the independents run an open ticket, as he knows that this is the best way for him to get re-elected.”
Greens’ candidate Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng said in a statement voters would be encouraged to preference independents, progressive minor parties and Labor ahead of the Liberals.
“The great thing about our electoral system is that voters can allocate preferences on the basis of their values,” she said.
The latest polling showed this year’s Senate contest was closer than expected, with both the Greens and Mr Pocock recording a strong showing while Senator Seselja failed to return a quota.
Incumbent Labor Senator for the ACT Katy Gallagher looks certain to retain her seat.
The polling was conducted by Climate 200 which has provided seed funding to both independents.