Australia's Turnbull faces anti-Muslim, diverse groups in new Senate

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been returned to government thanks to a slim win in parliament's lower house, but he will face up to a dozen diverse groups including a strident anti-Muslim party in the upper house to get legislation passed.

Controversial former fish and chip shop owner Pauline Hanson has been elected to the Senate from Queensland where her right-wing One Nation Party got 9 per cent of the vote.

She may be joined by several members of her party in the Senate thanks to a national vote of 4 per cent, but it will be a month or more before the 76 new senators are known.

Hanson won a seat in parliament in 1996 and caused an uproar when she warned Australia was "being swamped by Asians" and condemned assistance for Aboriginal people.

She lost her seat in 1998 but now is back in parliament leading a strident nationalist anti-Muslim party which wants to ban new mosques, ban the burqa and niqab in public, ban halal certification, ban Muslim immigration, and hold a Royal Commission into whether Islam is a religion or political ideology.

Turnbull has said the rise of her party was "not a welcome presence" and former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr told the Sydney Morning Herald her election would harm Australia's image overseas as she was a "troublemaker and racist."

While Turnbull's Coalition will be the largest single party in the senate, if Labor and the Greens combine to block legislation Turnbull will have to secure support from Hanson's One Nation senators or some of the other diverse groups to get legislation passed.

Among them is former radio shock jock Derryn Hinch who spent time in jail for revealing a paedophile's criminal record while he was still facing court.

Anti-gambling advocate Nick Xenophon is likely to be joined by a couple of his team in the Senate becoming a significant bloc.

Former Tasmanian soldier Jacqui Lambie will be re-elected even though, or perhaps because, she once revealed she liked her men with a "package between their legs." She also wants to ban the burqa and opposes same-sex marriage.

She may be sharing the Senate bench with a Sex Party senator, who could be elected under the complex preferential voting system. The party advocates legalizing same-sex marriage, personal drug use, Viagra on the national health service, an increase in the refugee intake, churches paying tax and equal rights for sex industry workers.

In Victoria, the Sex Party will be in a close finish with the Animal Justice Party, which wants to represent the rights of animals in the Senate.

Whoever wins in Victoria could be sitting beside the conservative Christian Democratic Party from New South Wales that strongly opposes same-sex marriage and the burqa.

Turnbull called the election largely to try and win a clearer path to governing in the Senate. It appears his challenge has only become tougher.

Last update: Sun, 10/07/2016 - 12:33


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