After calling the seat of Melbourne for incumbent MP Adam Bandt, all eyes were on the traditionally blue ribbon seats of Higgins and Kooyong, where the party was aiming to pick up a second lower house seat, but neither looked likely.
The Greens’ Higgins candidate, Jason Ball, was not looking strong enough to steal the seat from Liberal candidate Katie Allen, with only about 23 per cent of first preference votes after 15 per cent of the vote had been counted.
At his election night party in Melbourne on Saturday night, Mr Ball told a raucous crowd the mood in the electorate had been «one for change».
«There were a lot of people who told me they had voted for the Liberal Party their entire lives and today they voted for the Greens,» he said.
«And they voted for the Greens because they care about the future for their children and grandchildren, and they’re worried about climate change.»
Late on Saturday night, he said: «The Greens are very much still in this race and we are unlikely to know the result for a few days.»
Senator Di Natale said three-way contests like the one in Higgins were «always difficult».
«We had this in Prahran, where it looked like we were behind in the state election and we managed to get over Labor and win that seat. That contest is still a very live one … The big unknown is the massive pre-poll numbers.»
Senator Di Natale said the Senate remained the party’s main focus in its mission to ensure that the incoming government took appropriate action on climate change.
«Our Senate vote looks like it is holding up well,» Senator di Natale said, adding that the final result was «difficult to predict» and would not be known for «a few weeks».
«I’m hopeful that we will hold our team. We were written off before this election campaign but we have run strong campaigns across the country, put climate change front and centre and hopefully that’s reflected when we see the Senate numbers over the next couple of weeks.»
Despite a tough fight in the lower house seat of Macnamara, formerly known as Melbourne Ports, the Greens were not expected to pick up the seat held by retiring Labor MP Michael Danby, with his successor Josh Burns likely to win based on early counting.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was also looking likely to hold onto his Melbourne seat of Kooyong despite a swing away from him, with a 49.4 per cent primary vote based on 10.2 per cent counted.
Senator Di Natale said the Greens had been buoyed by a renewed focus on climate change in this election, with the Stop Adani convoy galvanising support.
«I certainly think it helped,» he said.
«It shone a spotlight on the issue of coal and climate change and, unfortunately, neither of the major parties is even prepared to talk about the role that coal plays in driving up climate change.»
with Goya Dmytryshchak
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.