In yet another example of the rise and rise of “anti-politics politics”, if further evidence were needed, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s election guru Antony Green is predicting that hard-right racially-biased Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will finish up with at least three Senate seats – one each from Queensland, NSW and Western Australia.
It’s early days in the Senate count, with a final result weeks away.
Either way, the expanded crossbench – now even more expanded thanks to the Turnbull Government’s decision to hold a Double Dissolution with lower voting thresholds – is set to pose a big headache for the Prime Minister, whomever that turns out to be.
Gathering together a working majority in a Senate with this many disparate groupings looks like a political manager’s nightmare.
Essentially, though, the likely winners break down like this, as far as we can surmise:
PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CONSERVATIVE/RIGHT WING
Liberal Democrats (except on Social Issues)
Christian Democrats (especially on Social Issues)
*But capable of springing surprises
PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CENTRIST/EVEN HANDED
Nick Xenophon Team
PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY LEFT OR LEFT OF CENTRE
The Sex Party (especially on Social Issues)
This is how Anthony Green suggests it could all break down, courtesy of The Age’s chief political reporter James Massola:
New South Wales: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation senator, 1 don’t know
Victoria: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Derryn Hinch Justice Party, 1 don’t know (“It’s anyone’s guess”, said Green.)
Queensland: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 2 don’t know (“It could be the Coalition, Labor, or the Liberal Democrats.”)
South Australia: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 3 Xenophon Team
Western Australia: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 1 don’t know (“Probably a second Green”)
Tasmania: 4 Coalition, 5 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Jackie Lambie (Independent)
Meanwhile Glenn Druery, the Senate “preference whisperer” who advises minor parties on how to engineer complicated preferences sways, predicted that, at this early stage of counting:
In New South Wales, the 12th and final seat would be won by Nella Hall for Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats or the Liberal Democrats incumbent David Leyonhjelm;
In Victoria, One Nation were presently in the box seat for the 12th spot but “I expect that to change and for that seat to be won by the Animal Justice or The Sex Party”;
In Queensland, the last seat would be won by a Liberal Democrat (Gabe Buckley, a campaigner against the Labor Government’s now rescinded anti-bike VLAD legislation);
In South Australia, the 12th seat could end up as a battle between Family First senator Bob Day and Labor, (although Bob Day thinks he will end up re-elected on One Nation preferences);
In Western Australia, the 12th spot could be a fight between One Nation and the National Party.
A right royal mess, we hear you say, Dear Reader? Well, you wouldn’t get much argument from anyone on that. How any Government will deal with such a fractured Senate is hard to fathom.
The clear winners from this Senate election are One Nation, The Xenophon Team, and The Greens.
Libertarian David Leyonhjelm getting himself re-elected in NSW, when he was undoubtedly only elected the first time because he headed up the Senate voting sheet and people got him confused with the Liberals, would be quite some achievement.
And a special hat tip to Jackie Lambie in Tasmania, who was originally elected as a Palmer United Party Senator but rapidly split from the mining magnate, and has since carved out a clear role for herself in the Island State’s political pantheon, despite apparently having none of the silky smooth political skills you need to be a winner in the Great Game.
We have to say we rather like Lambie – our fellows in the chardonnay-sipping political elite will be horrified, but it’s true – without agreeing with hardly a single word she says. She is the archetypal “battler” Aussie who calls it as she sees it. She appears afraid of no-one, and determined to speak her mind as she sees fit. We need more such “politicians”.
Meanwhile the other very influential Senator re-elected will be the perfectly loathsome arch-conservative Liberal Corey Bernardi. He will be heavily involved in any move to unseat Malcom Turnbull and reinstall the utterly horrid Tony Abbott, if he isn’t already. Pass the popcorn.