THE Greens could win the state seats of Melbourne and Richmond from Labor if they can repeat their federal vote at the November 27 state election, analysis by The Age reveals.
But on federal voting trends, the Greens would fall just short of taking two other inner-suburban seats Brunswick and Northcote.
A new Galaxy poll reports Labor's two-party lead over the Coalition shrinking to a 51-49 margin. If that is correct, Victoria is headed for a cliffhanger election, with a strong chance that the state will end up with a hung parliament.
By contrast, in the August 21 federal election Labor won 55.3 per cent of the two-party vote in Victoria its highest at federal level since the 1940s.
On first preferences, the Galaxy poll shows Labor's state vote down 5 percentage points from its federal vote, from 43 per cent to 38 per cent. The Coalition is up 3.5 points to 43 per cent, and the Greens up 1.5 points to 14 per cent.
If the swing was uniform which it never is, but it's not a bad guide the Liberals would gain eight seats: Mount Waverley, Gembrook, Forest Hill, Mitcham, South Barwon, Frankston, Mordialloc and Prahran.
If the Greens win the four inner-suburban seats, Labor would be left with just 43 seats in the 88-member Assembly. The Coalition would have 40 seats, with four Greens and independent Craig Ingram holding the balance of power.
Even a transposition of federal voting figures to state boundaries shows the Greens on track to unseat two more Brumby government ministers.
In the state seat of Melbourne, Greens barrister Brian Walters would easily defeat Education Minister Bronwyn Pike, winning 57.5 per cent of the two-party vote assuming Liberal preferences go to the Greens.
In Richmond, Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn would beat Housing Minister Richard Wynne, with 55 per cent of the two-party vote.
But in Northcote, leading ALP right-winger Fiona Richardson would just hold off the Greens' challenge, winning 51 per cent to the Greens' 49. Based on the federal figures in Brunswick, new Labor candidate Jane Garrett, mayor of Yarra, would scrape home by 0.6 percentage points. But if the Galaxy poll is reflected in voting on November 27, both these seats would also go to the Greens.
The Age analysis found no other seats within the Greens' reach. While their federal vote after preferences topped 20 per cent in Albert Park, Footscray, Prahran and Ted Baillieu's seat of Hawthorn, they are well back in third place. The analysis shows preference deals will play a crucial role.
There is sharp criticism within Liberal ranks of the federal party's decision to give preferences to the Greens without something in return such as the Greens issuing open tickets.
Premier John Brumby and Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu yesterday refused to say whether they would negotiate with the Greens to form a minority government in a hung parliament.
Mr Brumby said he was trying to win government in his own right, and questioned whether the Greens could maintain their level of support.
"[In] the history of politics in Australia over 20 to 25 years, you'll find various parties, whether it's the Democrats, the Nuclear Disarmament Party, the Greens Party," he said. "Their popularity will fluctuate."
Mr Baillieu has had no discussions about a preference deal with the Greens, he said. "A vote for the Greens has been a vote for the Labor Party for the better part of 10 years," he said. "There are no commitments. There are no deals. In [a hung parliament] we would do what is in the best interests of Victoria."
The Greens would not say which party they would back in the event of a hung parliament. But they are likely to demand the transport portfolio if they seize the balance of power.