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How will micro-parties affect the Senate?

The large number of micro-parties in the Senate mean we may be headed toward a double dissolution election faster than we thought. Professor George Williams from the Gilbert and Tobin Centre of Public Law, explains how to prevent this happening.

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Coalition frontbencher Sophie Mirabella has fallen behind her independent challenger in the Victorian seat of Indi and must rely on support from some 8200 postal votes to rescue her position.

The heavily backed independent candidate, Cathy McGowan, is now leading her Liberal rival in preliminary counting by 1754 votes. Although it is a strong early lead, only 51 per cent of the vote had been counted by mid-afternoon on Monday and postal votes are expected to favour Ms Mirabella.

Liberal candidate Sophie Mirabella: The answer is in the post.

Liberal candidate Sophie Mirabella: The answer is in the post. Photo: Ben Eyles / Border Mail

Ms Mirabella is a 12-year veteran of Federal Parliament and considered a tough political warrior, but Ms McGowan has strong local support.

Clive Palmer has moved into a commanding position in Fairfax, in Queensland, ahead by almost 3000 votes on the two-candidate-preferred vote.

While only 56 per cent of preferences have been counted in Fairfax, Mr Palmer is far enough ahead to call the seat a win for his fledgling party.

In front: Cathy McGowan, independent candidate for the seat of Indi.

In front: Cathy McGowan, independent candidate for the seat of Indi. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

The Coalition has moved ahead in the NSW seats of Reid and Eden-Monaro, and the Brisbane seat of Petrie, and is on track to take all three from Labor.

Three other seats remain in doubt. McEwen, which includes growth areas on Melbourne's northern fringe, is on a knife-edge. Liberal candidate Donna Petrovich was just 66 votes behind Labor incumbent Rob Mitchell. A large number of postal votes, about 10,700, will be critical.

In Barton, in Sydney's south, Labor candidate Steve McMahon is ahead by 68 votes with 77 per cent of preferences counted.

Capricornia in central Queensland is also tight with Labor candidate Peter Freeleagus ahead by 141 votes on a two-candidate-preferred basis, with 20 per cent of preferences still to be allocated.