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How Pauline Hanson Could Easily Win A Senate Seat

Just 100,000 votes stand between her and the federal parliament.
Pauline Hanson poses beside an election poster in 1998.
AP Photo/Steve Holland
Pauline Hanson poses beside an election poster in 1998.

Pauline Hanson may need as few as 100,000 votes in Queensland -- voting population 3.275 million -- to re-enter federal parliament. You can thank the double dissolution election for that.

Hanson, the leader of the controversial anti-immigration party One Nation, is running for the Senate.

Her last foray into federal politics, a term as the Member for Oxley between 1996 and 1998, was almost two decades ago, but her controversial and outrageous comments about refugees, migrants, Aboriginals, Muslims and more have seen her stay a prominent figure in Australian media circles, regularly tapped as a guest by news or panel shows on television.

Since announcing her Senate candidacy, her party has released a long list of controversial policies including support for a Royal Commission into Islam, banning further Muslim immigration or refugees, banning burqas and niqabs in public, surveillance cameras in mosques and Islamic schools and the banning of halal certification, and the abolition of multiculturalism and the Racial Discrimination Act.

Hanson was sentenced to three years jail in 2003 for electoral fraud, but the sentence was soon overturned and she was released. Since then, Hanson has launched several unsuccessful bids to re-enter politics, running for the NSW state Senate, the federal Senate, the QLD state parliament and then the federal Senate again in 2013.

But Hanson's bid for a QLD seat in the federal Senate is her strongest chance yet of returning to politics, 20 years after she first ascended to parliament, due to the mathematics and mechanics of the double dissolution election we are headed towards.

Senators are elected for six year terms. Usually, half the Senate is up for re-election at each three-yearly poll, with the other half comfortable in the knowledge that they have three more years before they have to campaign again. In a double dissolution, however, both houses of parliament are dissolved, meaning all 76 Senators are up for re-election. In a normal half-Senate election, the quota needed to be elected is around 14 percent of the vote -- but with double the senators up for election, that quota is halved, to 7.7 percent.

Let's get even deeper. It is universally agreed upon that the Coalition and Labor will almost always take nine, 10 or 11 of the 12 Senate seats in each state, leaving between one and three for the other parties (Greens, independents and minor parties). To pick up one of these remaining seats, the party or candidate with the "highest remainder" of votes takes the seat. In a double dissolution election, the ABC's election guru Anthony Green says just three or four percent of the vote could net you the 11th or 12th seat. NSW Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm says the number may be even lower, around 2.94 percent of the vote.

In Queensland, according to the Australian Electoral Commission, there were 3,275,000 registered voters as of April 30. That number has almost certainly risen since the formal calling of the election and a concerted enrolment push by the AEC, but for our purposes, let's calculate using that number.

Pauline Hanson received 101,000 votes in QLD when she last stood for the federal Senate in 2007. Under the double dissolution and reduced quotas, she may need as few as 96,000 votes -- 2.94 percent of QLD's votes -- to snag a Senate spot. Using the upper reaches of Anthony Green's modelling, that number might need to be 131,000 people.

Of course, the threshold might be even lower. Don't forget that Ricky Muir, of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party,received just 479 primary votes and his party just 17,000 total (0.51 percent of total votes in Victoria) and he just finished up his first term in the Senate.

The Courier Mail reported on Tuesday that Liberal and Labor insiders were preparing for the eventuality of Hanson re-entering parliament.

So ask yourself -- do you think Pauline Hanson has 131,000 supporters in Queensland?

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