The Turnbull government has preferenced Labor over the Greens in key seats

Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt. Photo: Getty/Cole Bennetts

The Greens appear to have lost any chance of winning two key lower house seats in Sydney and Melbourne after the Liberal Party decided to preference Labor ahead of the Greens at the July 2 election.

The decision means the ALP MP David Feeney in Batman, already under pressure for failing to declare a $2.3 million home in his electorate while living in an apartment in the Greens-held seat of Melbourne, is now likely to survive a strong challenge from Greens candidate Alex Bhathal.

The Liberals backed Labor ahead of the Greens at the 2013 election, which saved Feeney from losing his seat to the Greens then. Liberal preferences in 2010 helped elect Adam Bandt as the Greens MP in the seat of Melbourne.

The move will also sure up Labor’s infrastructure and transport spokesman Anthony Albanese in the Sydney seat of Grayndler, which was also being targeted by the Greens.

That means only current MP Adam Bandt is likely to be the only Greens lower house member after the election.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said this morning that the decision was in the national interest and would prevent a “chaotic” minority government.

“You have the Greens trying to pull Labor to the left. They are succeeding, with higher taxes, weaker border protection, a more anti-business agenda,” he said.

But the decision does not solve a major problem for the government, which remains under threat in South Australia from candidates standing under the banner of popular independent MP Nick Xenophon. Former minister Jamie Briggs is most in danger losing his seat of Mayo, but even science and innovation minister Christopher Pyne is facing a close ballot in his seat of Sturt.

If Labor decided to preference the Liberals over the independents it would save both MPs.

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