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Preference deals shape Senate contest

The polls suggest Tony Abbott will gain a clear majority in the House of Representatives, but the Senate is looking far more complex as preference deals begin to emerge..

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One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has a real chance of returning to Federal Parliament after 13 small right-wing parties put her high on their tickets for the NSW Senate.

While the Coalition, Labor and Greens all put her last, Ms Hanson stands to win preferences from parties that won 8 per cent of the NSW vote in 2010. They include the Shooters, Liberal Democrats, DLP and the Reverend Fred Nile's Christian Democrats - as well as Katter's Australia Party and Rise Up Australia, led by anti-Muslim pastor Danny Nalliah.

Ms Hanson won election in Queensland, in 1996, as an independent after being expelled from the Liberal Party for her racist views. She ran for the Senate in Queensland in 2004 and 2007, winning 4.5 to 5 per cent of the vote, but lost because she won few preferences. This time if she wins 5 per cent of the vote, and Labor's vote in NSW falls as much as recent polls suggest, she has a serious chance of taking the final seat from Labor or the Greens.

Pauline Hanson

Pauline Hanson

No party won a decisive advantage in preference deals for Victoria's Senate. But parties negotiated well enough to have a chance of repeating the upset wins of Family First's Steve Fielding in 2004 and the DLP's John Madigan in 2010.

Preferences have been spread widely - and oddly. In the choice between the three main parties, the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics are giving their preferences to Labor, the party that brought in the carbon tax. Coal baron Clive Palmer's party is directing its preferences to the Greens, who want to end coal mining.

The preference tickets have a whiff of dirty dealing to them. Several microparties have given their prized second preferences to parties which then ignored them in their own preferences.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange won little support, with only the Greens and anarchist Dr Joe Toscano giving him second preferences. The microparties that did best in the preference deals include the Sex Party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts and the Australian Democrats.

Few voters will fill in the 97 boxes required to allocate their own preferences, so the party tickets will decide almost all preferences from Victoria's 3.7 million voters.