Australia

Labor facing ‘difficult negotiations’ in the Senate after failing to secure additional seats

Labor is still expected to face difficult negotiations the Senate, according to one political expert, with the make-up of the upper house .
The new government will have 26 seats in the 76-member Senate, while the Coalition opposition will be the largest party with 32 seats.

However, Labor will need to deal with an enlarged crossbench, made up of 12 Greens, two from One Nation, two from the Jacqui Lambie Network, along with one from the United Australia Party (UAP) and independent senator David Pocock.

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In order to reach the 39 votes required to pass legislation, Labor would have to team up with the Greens and at least one more crossbencher to get the numbers.
Despite a more straightforward path for the government to enact its legislation compared to its predecessors, emeritus professor John Warhurst from the Australian National University said there would still be obstacles for the government.
“Labor will still have difficult negotiations with the Greens, but they also have at least the two Jacqui Lambie senators from Tasmania and they are always amenable to discussion,” he told AAP.
“It will vary from issue to issue, but I think the government certainly has got a way forward as far as getting through the Senate is concerned.”

Victoria’s final Senate seat went to United Australia Party member Ralph Babet, who took the sixth spot from the state from Liberal Greg Mirabella.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese admitted while he did not know whether the UAP would support Labor legislation in the Senate, he said parliament often had unexpected outcomes.
“The parliament can be a funny place sometimes, and sometimes people will vote in ways that you sort of scratch your head,” he told ABC radio.
“From time to time, you’ll get political parties vote in ways that are unexpected.”

Despite the election victory, Labor did not pick up any additional Senate seats.

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Professor Warhurst said while he was surprised Labor did not increase its standing in the upper house, the Senate had shifted in a more progressive direction.
“In some states there was a swing against Labor, it may also be the fact that voters sometimes will vote for Labor in the lower house, but spread themselves more widely in the Senate,” he said.
While the Coalition had the most Senate seats, Professor Warhurst said it was in a difficult position.
The opposition would need the help of the government or the Greens in order to get a majority on the floor for a vote.

“They will have to play their cards very carefully, maybe it will mean they will reach out to the Greens or even to Labor in some instances,” he said.

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