There will be eight independent or micro-party senators in the new upper house. Mark Kenny says Tony Abbott should be able to win support for his program.PT7M30S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2usgr 620 349 October 2, 2013
The shape of the new Senate - and the influence of billionaire Clive Palmer's party in the new Parliament - hinges on another recount, after the Palmer United Party and Labor snared the last two Senate seats in Western Australia, in an outcome decided by just 14 votes.
Only a day after the Australian Electoral Commission ordered a recount in the seat of Fairfax after Mr Palmer won the initial count by just seven votes, it could be facing a second, unprecedented, recount of all 1.3 million Senate votes cast in WA.
If the commission confirms the PUP and Labor as the winners of the final two seats, it will effectively mean the party founded by the Queensland mining magnate will, from July, have the Senate balance of power on any government legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens.
Clive Palmer. Photo: Michelle Smith
Victory in WA would give the PUP three seats in the new 76-member Senate. Together with Labor's 26 seats and nine for the Greens, the three parties would have 38 seats and the ability to block legislation they oppose - including on refugee issues, where Mr Palmer's views are close to those of the Greens.
But in a Senate election full of extraordinary and nail-biting outcomes, the result in WA hinged on a key ''choke point'' in the count, when the Shooters and Fishers Party led the Australian Christians by just 14 votes at the point when one had to be eliminated.
The Christians lost, their preferences went to the Shooters and the Australian Sports Party then dropped out.
Had the Shooters been eliminated, their preferences would have gone to the Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich. The gridiron fan and mining engineer, who won just 0.23 per cent of the vote, would have then surfed his way into one of the final seats on a never-ending flow of preferences, while Greens senator Scott Ludlam would have edged out Labor senator Louise Pratt to take the other.
Late on Wednesday, the Greens and the Sports Party appealed for a recount - an unprecedented event in a Senate election. The commission will make a decision on Thursday. With the recount in Mr Palmer's own seat of Fairfax expected to take a week, a recount of the entire WA Senate vote would be a huge logistical exercise.
Party leader Christine Milne said the party room was ''devastated at the thought of Scott leaving the Senate next year''.
If the PUP defeats the Sports Party, its third new senator will be another mining engineer: Zhenya ''Dio'' Wang, who migrated to Australia in 2003 and now heads Perth-based explorer Australasian Resources, in which Mr Palmer is a significant investor.
Mr Palmer said the Senate results were a ''tremendous achievement in our election debut''.
''The Palmer United Party looks forward to working with the Abbott government to get Australia back on track,'' he said.
* An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Senator Ludlam was the first Australian Greens senator to lose his seat in an election.