Apologies for continued heel-dragging on a full review of the state of the Tasmanian Senate contest, one remarkable feature of which has been a Liberal Party bungle in fielding only three candidates when their primary vote was sufficient to have raised at least the possibility that they could have won a fourth. Some idea of why they might not have thought this possible can be gleaned by tracking the astonishing growth in their vote over the past three elections – from 33.8 per cent in 1998 to 38.8 per cent in 2001 to 46.6 per cent in 2004. At present the contest for the final seat (the other five splitting three Coalition and two Labor) is between Family First and the Greens – while Family First appears to have the edge, Antony Green says he is "doubtful" this will be the outcome since 20 per cent of Tasmanian voters and as much as 50 per cent of Tasmanian Greens voters go below the line, and counting on these votes will not begin until tomorrow.
The most interesting contest from every perspective is that in Queensland, in which the Coalition is well in contention to secure a fourth seat and hence an historic Senate majority (notwithstanding National Party candidate Barnaby Joyce’s assertion that if elected he will behave more-or-less as an independent). The key point in the count will be when either Family First or the Nationals are eliminated – here the Nationals’ lead has narrowed from about 3500 on Sunday to about 2900 today. If the Nationals survive at this point, Family First preferences will put them ahead of One Nation by a similarly narrow margin (and here their prospective lead has increased from about 3500 to about 3700, Pauline Hanson and One Nation predictably doing less well out of pre-polls and postals) and then over the Greens and into the Senate on their preferences.