greens cement the third force in politics

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    Greens are polling 40% more primary votes than the Nationals, even though they will have no lower house seats.

    Greens cement themselves as the third force
    October 9, 2004 - 8:30PM

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    The Australian Greens said Saturday night the federal election had cemented the party's place as the third force in politics.

    The Greens were on track to win a Senate seat in Tasmania on early counting and Western Australia and Queensland were in their basket of possibilities.

    Former Tasmanian MP and environmentalist Christine Milne had almost achieved a full quota in her own right to win a Senate sit - the first Greens senate candidate to do so.

    The Greens' national vote was sitting on 7.2 per cent - up more than two per cent on the 2001 election.

    Greens senator Kerry Nettle said she believed the party had been building its vote over several elections.

    "It's about speaking out right from the outset on the war on Iraq, speaking up for Tasmanian forests for decades," she said.

    "It's part of a consolidation of a core Green vote that we are seeing across the electorate as the Greens gain a higher profile as the third force in politics."

    Senator Nettle said the issue of protecting old-growth forests in Tasmania had led to a 57 per cent "pro-forest vote", when combining the Greens and ALP vote.

    "It's a big issue in Tasmania and what we are seeing statewide is tremendous support for a position of conserving old-growth forests."

    Despite the strong pro-forest vote, Labor has lost two Tasmanian lower house seats.

    Senator Nettle, who is one of two sitting Greens senators, said Labor's move to delay the release of its forest protection package had damaged it.

    "The Labor Party has shot themselves in the foot to some extent by holding out ... before they announced their Tasmanian forest policy," she said.

    Senator Nettle said the NSW seats of Richmond and Eden Monaro looked likely to fall to Labor on Greens preferences.

    And the Greens' lower house seat of Cunningham would go down to the wire, she said, although Liberal preferences could benefit the sitting member Michael Organ.

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