John Howard has personally brokered a deal with the Family First party that would see the Coalition consult over policy with the Assemblies of God-backed party in exchange for preferences for most lower house candidates across Australia.
With the Coalition keen to counter the Labor Party's dominance of the preference flows in a tight election, the Liberals signed off on the deal after a series of conversations between the Prime Minister and Family First chairman Peter Harris.
While the preference flows of the socially conservative minor party may have limited effect in most states, they will be crucial in the three marginal South Australian seats held by the Liberals.
It is almost a political mirror image to the sweeping preference deal between Labor and the left-leaning Greens for Senate and 26 lower house seats reached last week.
Under the deal with the Coalition, Family First will lead a direct advertising attack against the Greens and its liberal policies in four states from this weekend.
Announcing the deal, Family First representatives said Mr Howard would make some joint family policy announcements with Family First within a week.
'I think that it's a watershed moment for Australian history that a new party can have influence even prior to the federal election going ahead,' Family First SA Senate candidate Andrea Mason said.
Wow. The ALP strategy of consenting to Howard's homophobic marriage and adoption bill really worked well for Labor. Pity about the principle...
Saint has lots of detail on the stealthy politics of Family First.