Greens and Lambie will determine Labor agenda with Senate balance of power

The Greens and Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie could determine the future of Labour’s parliamentary agenda, with the minor parties poised to hold the balance of power in the Senate.

The Greens are on track to have their largest presence in the upper house with 12 senators, two from each of the states.

If the Labor Party does not have the support of the Coalition, the support of the Greens will be mandatory for any legislation it wants to pass. But the Greens alone will not be enough.

Senator Lambie appears to have won a second seat in Tasmania, which will double her party’s representation.

The ABC projects that Labor will win 25 seats, short of the 39 needed for a majority in the Senate, something a government has not had since the presidency of John Howard.

The Coalition will have the most seats, probably 30, in the majority-female chamber.

If Labor wins 25 seats and gains the support of the Greens, Senator Lambie’s two votes will be needed to pass the legislation.

The future of Pauline Hanson, one of the country’s best-known politicians, remains unclear.

Her party has one seat not up for election this term, with Senator Hanson in a fight to win the last seat in the Queensland Senate. Her candidate in South Australia could win the final seat in that state.

Pauline Hanson holds her head in her hand
Pauline Hanson is in a fight to retain her Senate seat.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

If both Senator Hanson and Jennifer Game win, One Nation will have three seats on the cross bench.

The political comeback of former Senator Nick Xenophon has failed, behind One Nation and the United Australia Party.

Liberal Zed Seselja, according to ABC projections at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, is ahead of independent David Pocock. However, the former rugby star is kept within range thanks to the preferences of Labour, the Greens and another independent.

A man wearing a padded jacket and cap smiles at the camera.
David Pocock remains within striking distance of an ACT Senate seat.(Supplied: Matthew Newton)

The sixth seat in Victoria hangs in the balance, with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party ahead. That state appears to have re-elected two Labor senators, two from the Coalition and one from the Greens.

Greens leader Adam Bandt, who sits in the lower house, has called the election a “green slide” and warned his party will use its balance of power to push for greater climate commitments.

“This result is a mandate for action on climate and inequality,” he said on Sunday morning.

“We put an alternative to people and people liked what they saw. A record number of people voted Green for the first time in this election.”

Anne Ruston is standing in a hallway looking off to the side.  She is waiting alone.
Anne Ruston says the result could prompt the main parties to work more closely in the Senate.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Liberal Leader Anne Ruston was the manager of government affairs in the Senate and played a crucial role in interbank trading during the last parliamentary term.

Speaking on Saturday night, he said Green victories could prompt Labor and the Coalition to negotiate more on policy.

“However, what it can actually offer is the fact that the two main parties may have to start working a little bit more closely to get sensible policy because I don’t think Australians would necessarily like to see some of the policies of the Greens set up by the Labor Party,” he said.

“I think there will have to be a… new relationship between the two main parties to make sure we get sensible policy, because we can get pretty crazy policy if the Greens are trusted to support Labour.”

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