Prominent One Nation candidate Malcolm Roberts was tantalisingly close to a return to the Senate on Saturday night, while United Australia Party leader Clive Palmer's chances of making good on his high-spending campaign looked slim.
Pauline Hanson's One Nation had neared the quota for Mr Roberts' return early on Saturday night, at one point exceeding it, although its numbers in Queensland pulled back as the count progressed.
Fraser Anning, who left the party and eventually formed his own Conservative National Party, was still well short of winning back his spot.
Despite his huge spending in the run-up to the election, Mr Palmer was well below where he would have wanted to be, with his hopes pinned on better results out of the regional Queensland booths than from those in Brisbane. His numbers had not improved as of 10pm Saturday night.
Ms Hanson secured a six-year term in 2016 and is not up for re-election this year. Mr Roberts won a spot at the 2016 election, but the High Court later declared him invalid because he was a citizen of the United Kingdom by descent at the time of his nomination for Parliament.
After a series of blunders and defections, One Nation was left with just two senators, Ms Hanson and West Australian Peter Georgiou, who is up for re-election.
In the lower house, One Nation had 2.9 per cent of the national vote as of 10pm, a swing in its favour of 1.5 per cent, and was at 8.5 per cent in Queensland with a swing of 3 per cent.
Mr Palmer's UAP had received 3.4 per cent of the national vote.
An Ipsos poll days out from the election had One Nation with a primary vote of 4 per cent and the UAP on 3 per cent.
The UAP fielded candidates in all 151 lower house seats and struck a preference deal with the Coalition to boost Mr Palmer's chances of being elected to the Senate. Scott Morrison had defended the deal by saying Mr Palmer would do less to damage to the economy than Labor or the Greens.
Mr Palmer's political career appeared over in 2016, when he resigned before a likely election trouncing in his Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, which he had won by just 53 votes in 2013.
But a $50 million-plus advertising blitz in the lead-up to 2019 - a figure approaching the spending of Labor and Coalition combined - positioned him as a potential player in his Queensland Senate bid and preference flows for Liberal candidates.
Mr Palmer went into the election promising to push for a $150-a-week increase in the age pension, which could cost taxpayers at least $15 billion a year. He also wanted the elected government to allow people to claim the interest they paid on their mortgage as a tax deduction, tax paid by people living at least 200 kilometres from their state capital cut by 20 per cent, and a network of fast trains.
One Nation, which endured a tough run-up to the election amid poor polling and embarrassing scandals, would receive a boost to morale if Mr Roberts rejoined the Senate.
Queensland party leader Steve Dickson was forced to resign last month, paving the way for Mr Roberts, after he was caught making derogatory comments and groping a woman in undercover footage filmed in a Washington DC strip club.
The previous month, footage from the same al-Jazeera sting aired across the nation showing Ms Hanson's chief of staff, James Ashby, and Mr Dickson attempting to solicit millions of dollars from the US National Rifle Association in return for a parliamentary push to water down Australia's gun laws.
- SMH/The Age