senate cross benchers coming back
senate cross benchers coming back

New power players in the Senate to keep PM in line

JACQUI Lambie will be one of the most powerful women in Australia's next federal parliament with a say over whether 10 million workers get a bigger tax cut.

The outspoken Tasmanian is one of six key Senate crossbenchers Scott Morrison will have to rely on to pass any contentious legislation.

But Pauline Hanson's power is waning and "the wind's been knocked out of the sails of One Nation", according to one of her fellow crossbenchers in the 46th Parliament.

Jacqui Lambie is on the campaign trail to be elected into the Senate for Tasmania. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones
Jacqui Lambie is on the campaign trail to be elected into the Senate for Tasmania. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones

"We are looking forward to having Jacqui in the Senate," Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff told News Corp.

"She's very passionate about her state and passionate particularly about veterans. We haven't always agreed on everything but ... probably 90 per cent of what Jacqui stands for we do too."

Senator Griff's comments will add to speculation that Centre Alliance and Senator Lambie could team up to be a powerful voting bloc in the new Senate.

Prime Minister Morrison will most likely need four out of six crossbenchers to pass legislation if Labor and the Greens don't support it.

That will boost the power of Senator Cory Bernardi and Senator Lambie and deliver equal weight to Centre Alliance and One Nation, which both have two senators.

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson. Picture: AAP
One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson. Picture: AAP

It's a better position for the Coalition than the last Parliament, where negotiator-in-chief Mathias Cormann was forced to deal with ten crossbenchers.

"I think it will be a far more workable senate," Senator Griff said.

"I don't think we're going to see a repeat of the stunts that have happened in the Senate, with burqas and the like," he added.

"And without having that extreme radical presence that Fraser Anning ended up being, I think it's going to settle down and do what it's supposed to do and be the house of review and progress positive good forms of legislation."

He added that One Nation's power had been reduced given it was down from four votes at the start of the 45th Parliament to just two in this Senate.

POWER PLAYERS OF THE NEW SENATE CROSSBENCH

JACQUI LAMBIE

Jacqui Lambie will be back in the Senate after winning 8.7 per cent of the primary vote in Tasmania.

The former Senator was ousted from Parliament in 2017 after dobbing herself in as a dual citizen.

She told The New Daily last week that she survived off Vegemite toast and as little as $150-a-week for the year after she left Parliament, going on reality television shows to help make ends meet.

Jacqui Lambie has won enough votes to return to the Senate. Picture: Chris Kidd
Jacqui Lambie has won enough votes to return to the Senate. Picture: Chris Kidd

Both Labor and Coalition senators paid tribute to Senator Lambie as she bid parliament an emotional farewell in 2017, indicating she will work with both sides.

But she also delivered a blunt message to Scott Morrison to "drop the attitude" on election night after it was clear she would be back.

PAULINE HANSON AND MALCOLM ROBERTS

Pauline Hanson's loyal lieutenant Malcolm Roberts is back in Parliament after losing his seat in 2017 over dual citizenship.

One Nation Leader Senator Pauline Hanson (left) and former Senator Malcolm Roberts visit a lighting factory in Salisbury, south of Brisbane, Thursday, November 23, 2017. Senator Hanson is on the campaign trail ahead of the Queensland state election. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
One Nation Leader Senator Pauline Hanson (left) and former Senator Malcolm Roberts visit a lighting factory in Salisbury, south of Brisbane, Thursday, November 23, 2017. Senator Hanson is on the campaign trail ahead of the Queensland state election. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Fraser Anning entered parliament in 2017 as his replacement before promptly quitting the party over a disagreement with Senator Hanson.

It reduced One Nation's Senate voting bloc to three. Brian Burston then left the party in 2018, reducing its votes to two.

Senator Hanson retains the same power now, after gaining Senator Roberts but losing WA's Peter Georgiou.

CENTRE ALLIANCE

South Australia's Centre Alliance, formerly the Nick Xenophon Team, retains its power in the Senate.

Senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff weren't up for re-election in 2019 after NXT won two seats with six-year terms in 2016.

"We'll have to see where the numbers end up but it does look like government will need at least one if not both of us to progress their agenda and we'll work respectfully with them," Senator Griff told News Corp.

Senator Rex Patrick and Senator Stirling Griff in the Senate Chamber. Picture Kym Smith
Senator Rex Patrick and Senator Stirling Griff in the Senate Chamber. Picture Kym Smith

"We don't have any particular demands per se but in our instance South Australia always has to come first."

He added Centre Alliance had had a "good relationship" with the Morrison government in the past.

"We don't see any reason why that would actually change," he said.

"We're not going to be wreckers. We're there to ensure a good, responsible and transparent government and particularly to ensure South Australia's interests are well looked after."

CORY BERNARDI

Cory Bernardi was also elected to a six-year term in 2016 as a member of the Liberal Party.

He quit the party in 2017 over concerns about its direction and formed the Australian Conservatives.

Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi. Picture: AAP
Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi. Picture: AAP

Senator Bernardi generally voted with the Coalition in the 45th Parliament.

TAX CUTS SHAPING UP AS SENATE'S FIRST BATTLE

Mr Morrison's $158 billion income tax cuts for ten million Australians are set to be the first big battle in the Senate with incoming Labor leader Anthony Albanese flagging that the party will only support hip-pocket relief for low and middle income workers.

If the crossbench also doesn't back the full tax package, the Coalition may be forced to split the bill to get the $1080 tax refunds for workers through.

Senator Griff said Centre Alliance has yet to finalise its position on the tax cuts and will request a briefing on the economy from Treasury before they vote.

"The economy has pulled through reasonably well over the last year but there's no doubt it's slowed," he said.

"It's likely we're heading into tough times and in tough times it's important government coffers are well stocked and core community services are not cut.

"That will weigh heavily on our minds when we're asked to support these proposals."

Headlines