The Gillard Government is celebrating Christine Milne's decision to break the Greens alliance with the Labor Party, with ALP strategists believing a besieged Julia Gillard will benefit from being able to distance herself from "extremists".
Citing Labor's refusal to redesign an expansion of the mining tax, the Greens leader said Labor had effectively ended the agreement it signed with her party during the 17 days of negotiations after the inconclusive 2010 election.
"Well, so be it. But we will not allow Labor's failure to uphold the spirit of our agreement to advance the interests of Tony Abbott," Senator Milne told the National Press Club yesterday.
She said her party would still "deliver confidence and supply until Parliament rises for the election". Senior ministers, many worried by the Labor-Green alliance, were delighted at Senator Milne's announcement.
Leader of the House Anthony Albanese said the Greens' relationship with the Government was "parasitic" and the alliance had never been contingent on the mining tax.
"We know that Christine Milne, since Bob Brown left the leadership of the Greens, has been under siege from the extreme elements of the Greens party, led by Lee Rhiannon from NSW," Mr Albanese said.
Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes, who has declared his union "110 per cent" behind Ms Gillard, said Senator Milne's "boo hoo" moment was a ploy to boost her flagging personal support.
"Frankly, if Christine Milne wants to rip up an agreement, excellent," Mr Howes said.
It is understood the Greens want to counter supporters' inflated expectations of the party's influence on Government and start some product differentiation before the Federal election.
With former leader Kevin Rudd's supporters still hankering for leadership change, Ms Gillard and her loyalists will use Senator Milne's decision to harden their anti-Greens rhetoric, with a view to portraying Labor as the protector of jobs.
One strategist cited Environment Minister Tony Burke's decision not to heritage list Tasmania's Tarkine rainforest as an example of the Gillard Government's priorities.