Early counting in the new WA Senate vote from last years’ federal election has the Palmer United Party (PUP) and Greens showing large gains with 71% of votes counted.
Clive Palmer’s PUP holds a 7.51% swing and Greens Senator Scott Ludham is expected to hold his seat with the Greens picking up a 6.7% swing.
It was Senator Ludlam’s challenge to last September’s election result that led WA voters back to the polls. Ludlam had lost his Senate seat to Palmer United, but then won it back on the recount, however it emerged that 1300 ballot papers had been lost in the recount.
As counting continues today, it seems the Coalition and ALP both have substantial swings against them, of 5.6% and 5% respectively, as voters turned away from the major parties, despite both sides declaring the vote would be a referendum on the carbon and mining taxes.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said there was still “a long way to go” with the counting, but she had been expecting a swing against the government.
The indications are the Senate will become particularly testing for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will have to gain more support from crossbenchers to pass legislation.
The likely makeup of the six WA senate places are two Liberal, one ALP, one Green, one Palmer United Party, with the sixth spot a undecided contest between the Liberals and ALP.
The outcome is particularly bad for the ALP, which put right wing powerbroker Joe Bullock ahead of sitting senator Louise Pratt on the Senate ballot, only to have negative comments by the former union heavyweight emerge on the eve of the election. Bullock had described his own party as “mad”, saying he voted against Labor and also attacked Senator Pratt. Bullock later apologised, but the rift has already fuelled speculation of a major rift between the conservative, aspiring senator and his federal ALP colleagues.
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