Zed Seselja. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Liberal Zed Seselja is now speaking more confidently of victory in the ACT Senate race, after being welcomed into Friday's meeting of Coalition MPs.
''It does seem almost mathematically impossible for the Greens to get this seat,'' he said. ''I've had some feedback from the count today in terms of the postal votes and they appear to be running in our direction, which is what I would have anticipated. Short of a dramatic turnaround in the last 15,000 votes or so … it's a pretty large gap for the Greens.''
The Australian Electoral Commission is counting below-the-line votes which Greens candidate Simon Sheikh hopes will favour him.
With 79 per cent of the vote counted on Friday, Mr Seselja has 33.57 per cent of the primary vote, while Labor's Kate Lundy has 34.83 and Mr Sheikh has 18.8 per cent.
The Animal Justice Party, which has first place on the ACT Senate ballot paper, is directing its preferences to the Liberal Party ahead of the Greens but the Greens will benefit from preferences from most of the other minor parties.
In Parliament House, the two sides of politics swapped meeting rooms after the election, with Liberal and National MPs meeting on Friday in the room designated for the government. Senator Lundy was embarrassed to walk into the Coalition meeting. ''Lol! I just went into the Govt party room!'' she tweeted.
Mr Seselja was invited to attend the Coalition meeting, where he joined a group of newly-elected MPs.
''There was certainly a lot of happiness but Tony Abbott set the tone that it was not about jubilation but being excited about the opportunity and the challenge ahead,'' he said. He is not seeking a frontbench role as either a minister or parliamentary secretary.
''I think there is going to be a bunch of people in the queue before me,'' he said. ''My first task will be to be a strong local representative and do my part in the party room.''
The Coalition has a policy is to reduce the public service by 12,000 positions nationwide over three years by natural attrition.
After Mr Abbott made a last minute announcement before the election to increase the efficiency dividend, Mr Seselja described the policy as a blunt instrument.
''I think that what's important is that the Coalition honours its promises,'' Mr Seselja said on Friday.
''One of those is reduce the public sector through natural attrition, I've made my views known on that policy.
''It is through natural attrition and I think it's important that we follow that through. To the extent that they do apply the efficiency dividend, I think it's important that we do look for other genuine savings other than in the area of jobs.
''While I know things are tight, I think there's always ways to improve the efficiency of organisations.''
■ Labor's Andrew Leigh will hold his first mobile office, after being re-elected as member for Fraser, outside Dickson Woolworths on Saturday morning.