LOCAL ELECTION 2013 COVERAGE
A barnyard of minor parties will control Australia's new Senate when they take office next July, judging from provisional figures at the close of counting on election night.
As the numbers stand, eight minor party senators from separate groups, some of them virtually unknown entities with no track record and no known policies, will be given the power to decide whether or not each government bill should be passed.
They include Wayne Dropulich, a gridiron-playing engineer who is likely to win election as a senator from Western Australia. His Australian Sports Party has no policies other than advocating lots of sport, and won just 0.22 per cent of the vote. But with preferences from other small parties, he is likely to get a Senate quota ahead of the second Labor candidate, who had 12.33 per cent.
In Victoria, Ricky Muir is set to win the final seat. He stood for the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, which appears to have no policies apart from representing what it sees as motorists' interests. He won 0.53 per cent, but with a swag of preferences, he appears set to unseat Liberal senator Helen Kroger, who had 10.52 per cent.
In NSW, many voters facing a ballot paper of 45 party columns and 110 names responded by putting a 1 in the first box on the ballot paper, which belonged to a party calling itself "Liberal Democrats". An astonishing 8.88 per cent of voters voted for the Liberal Democrats, which will see the right-wing party's candidate and gun rights supporter David Leyonhjelm take a seat from Labor.
Australia's prospective Finance Minister, Arthur Sinodinos, is likely to hold on to the final seat ahead of the Greens. A challenge from One Nation founder Pauline Hanson appears to have failed after she was pipped by the Shooters Party at the point where one or the other was to be eliminated.
The surge in votes for Clive Palmer's party will see former Canberra Raiders star Glenn Lazarus cross the line to score a Senate seat from Queensland, and "events ambassador" Jacquie Lambie sneak through for the final seat in Tasmania.
In South Australia, independent Nick Xenophon will have to be content with one seat despite almost topping the vote and winning 1.8 quotas. Rather, South Australia's last seat seems to have gone to perennial candidate Bob Day, a prominent builder and former Liberal candidate who this won it for Family First.
Add in Victorian senator John Madigan, elected in 2010 with 2.3 per cent of the vote, and they would form a crossbench of eight which will comprise Australia's new hung parliament - this time in the Senate rather than the House of Representatives.
The Greens won fewer votes, but in more strategic places, and on current figures, will see their Senate numbers increase by at least one and possibly two. In the ACT, former GetUp! director Simon Sheikh appears well-placed to strip the local Liberals of their only seat in the national Parliament, in a very close fight with former ACT Liberal leader Zes Seselja.
Former Maribyrnong mayor Janet Rice appears set to take a Senate seat in Victoria from Labor, prominent refugee advocate Senator Sarah Hanson-Young looks likely to scrape home in South Australia, along with Peter Whish-Wilson in Tasmania despite a landslide loss of support for his party in its home state.
All told, on current figures, the new Senate of 76 members is likely to have 32 or 33 Coalition senators (down from 34 now), 25 Labor (31), 10 or 11 Greens (9) and eight others (2).
These numbers could change, however, with several million votes still to be counted, including all those cast below the line. Small changes in the votes can result in a different order of elimination of candidates, and hence different results.