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Meet the new senate: Hinch, Hanson and a Xenophon job lot

Politics

Nick Xenophon is closing in on three quotas in the South Australian senate, as Malcolm Turnbull’s bid to remove an uncooperative upper house crossbench has also landed him with an outspoken former broadcaster and ensured the political resurgence of One Nation.

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The Xenophon Team could well end up with three seats – as many as Labor has already guaranteed itself, although the ALP could yet join the Liberals on four – having already secured the expected election of himself and running mate Stirling Griff.

And divisive Queensland politician Pauline Hanson is on the cusp of a return to parliament almost 20 years after she left.

The One Nation leader rose to prominence in 1996 when she won the lower house seat of Oxley and is vying for one of the final Queensland Senate seats against other minor parties.

Late on Saturday night, the party had attracted about 10 per cent of first preference votes.

So confident in the numbers was Hanson that she declared the right-wing party may even secure a second seat and supporters had begun to refer to her as senator.

“I’ve been working on this for the last 18 years since I lost the seat of Blair, not because people didn’t want me but due to preferences,” she said at a small election-night function at Booval, west of Brisbane.

Hanson, who divides opinion with her views on immigration and Islam, has become a serial candidate in state and federal polls.

She thanked supporters and recalled coming “extremely close” to quitting politics when she was jailed for electoral fraud. The conviction was later quashed.

“I remember coming out of prison and saying I’d have rocks in my head to actually go back and do it again,” she said.

“But the support I’ve received from Australians … and the encouragement I’ve received from the Australian people is why I’ve kept going.”

Hanson has said she will call for a royal commission into the religion of Islam if elected, however One Nation ran its campaign on a raft of policies on the economy and primary industries.

She has insisted she will be able to work with any party on the floor of parliament, despite comments from Malcolm Turnbull, among others, that she is unwelcome in Australian politics.

“The fact is I’m not there for Malcolm Turnbull, I’m not there for Bill Shorten, I’m there for the people of Australia.”

Despite Malcolm Turnbull’s entreaties to the broader electorate to reject the allure of independents, broadcaster Derryn Hinch has declared himself the winner of a Victorian Senate seat as independent Cathy McGowan retained the hotly contested regional Victorian lower house seat of Indi.

The Greens recorded massive swings in inner city Melbourne on Saturday night but could walk away without the additional lower house seat they crave.

Australia faces an uncertain few days after a 3.2 per cent swing against Malcolm Turnbull’s government has made another hung parliament possible.

McGowan addressed a jubilant crowd in Wangaratta saying she beat former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella because her campaign was positive and stuck to its community roots.

A deflated Mirabella said: “It was always going to be a challenge with a sitting, so-called independent member with $1.2 million of resources per year.”

Hinch tweeted late on Saturday night: “We’ve called it we are in.”

The man who calls himself the “human headline” told the Seven Network “it looks like I’m going to be senator-elect, it’s brilliant news,” even though on official figures he’s still polling short of a quota.

Saturday’s election was the first time Hinch has voted in his life.

“I waited 72 years to find somebody worth voting for,” he said.

“I still don’t believe in compulsory voting … but it’s been beneficial (for me).”

Jacqui Lambie, a former Palmer United Party senator, will hold her Tasmanian seat and could bring another candidate with her.

The coalition will at best win 34 Senate seats, up one on the previous result, while Labor is unlikely to hold more than 23, down two.

The Greens are on track to take eight seats, down two on the previous result, leaving a crossbench of up to 12 members.

 

 

-AAP

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