LABOR has reacted furiously to a decision by the Greens not to direct preferences to the main parties at the state election, warning it will ''almost certainly'' deliver control of the upper house to the Coalition and conservative minor parties.
The Herald revealed on Saturday that the Greens had decided not to direct preferences to either Labor or Coalition candidates in the Legislative Council and in at least 30 seats in the Legislative Assembly.
''The decision of the Greens to not swap preferences with Labor will almost certainly deliver control of the upper house to Fred Nile, the Shooters Party, the Liberals and Nationals,'' said Labor's campaign spokesman and preferences negotiator, the upper house MP Luke Foley. ''Those right-wing parties will all swap preferences with each other.''
Mr Foley said the Greens were ''obsessed'' with beating Labor in lower house seats even if it was at the expense of a ''far right'' upper house.
''The Greens' hatred of Labor will deliver upper house control to the book burners and elephant shooters - people who are on a crusade to overturn environmental protection, let hunters rampage through national parks, bring back duck hunting, close the safe-injecting room and end ethics classes in schools,'' he said.
But the Greens' lead candidate for the Legislative Council, David Shoebridge, rejected Mr Foley's analysis.
He said that under the NSW system of optional preferential voting, preferences have had ''next to no impact'' on the make-up of the upper house.
''Our clear electoral approach to retain a progressive upper house that is not a rubber-stamp for the Coalition is to maximise the Green vote,'' Mr Shoebridge said. ''The NSW Labor machine is toxic to voters in NSW and the Greens want nothing to do with them.''
Mr Shoebridge said Labor had relied on the votes of Shooters Party and Christian Democratic Party MPs for the past eight years to pass legislation.
However, the ABC's election analyst, Antony Green, said both arguments had some merit.
Mr Green said that while it was true that preferences have not played a role in shaping the upper house, that is only because the vote did not require the distribution of main party preferences at the 2007 election.
''What we don't know from the last election is how Labor or Liberal or Green preferences would flow if they had to be distributed,'' he said.
The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, has given a strong indication that the Liberals will not direct preferences at the election but said any decision would be announced by the state director, Mark Neeham.
The most recent polling suggests the Greens will gain the balance of power in the upper house and could combine with Labor to block legislation if there is a Coalition government.
Mr O'Farrell has pointed to the likelihood of a Greens-controlled upper house when responding to Labor's claims that he has a ''secret'' agenda for the widespread privatisation of state assets. His argument is that even if the claim were true, a Coalition government would be forced to deal with a hostile upper house.