Queensland is shaping up to the be the most interesting Senate contest at the upcoming Federal election, as Barry Bananas reports.

As he stares into the political abyss, Democrats Senator John Cherry must wish he could get married every week-end, given the publicity he has been able to generate out of his Sunday nuptuals.

Cherry had a pre-wedding yarn in The Sunday-Mail, complete with photo of his bride-to-be and celebrant the Reverend John Woodley, the former Democart Senator who stepped aside because of ill-health a few years back.

That was backed up with a post-wedding piece in today’s Courier-Mail, complete with photos and details of attendees such as former leader Natasha Stott-Despoja who received the incredibly tired, tedious and trite ‘Doc Martens’ reference which is so twentieth-century.

Cherry is up for election at his year’s Federal poll, in what will be his first test at the hands of the voters. He took over from when Woodley retired and will have hard time winning the sixth Senate spot in Queensland now that the Democrats have become the nation’s political village idiot.

If that wasn’t going to make things hard enough, Cherry would have been made even more nervous by another couple of recent developments.

First came the news that Hetty Johnston, head of the Bravehearts child protection group would run as an indepenent. She will struggle, but has the cause and the profile after leading the charge against ex G-G Peter Hollingworth to perhaps give her more primary votes than the credibility challenge Democrats.

Then there was the recent Brisbane City Council election that upped the profile of the Greens Drew Hutton, who drew just over 10 percent of the vote, following on from the state-wide average of around 7 percent the Greens polled in the State election.

That suggests that Hutton will head the primary vote for the also rans, so unless something wierd happens with preference swaps, he should be on his way to Canberra.

In recent elections, Labor has picked up two Senators, the Coalition three (if you include the One Nation abberation as part of the overall conservative vote) with the Dems getting the last position, won in the past by Cheryl Kernot, John Woodley and current leader Andrew Bartlett.

But in these Democrat days of wine and rages, defections and brawls, Cherry has to be a rank outsider, although he is a master of the Senate numbers and preferences game, and a capable performer.

In fact given the dead wood Queensland usually sends to the Senate, you could argue that judged on ability alone, Hutton, Johnston and Cherry all have a lot more to offer than some of the political hacks and time-servers there now, notably Bill Ludthug’s little boy Joe.

But a meritocracy it is not. And just to spice up this juicy tussle a little more there is another sitting Senator vying for the spot, One Nation’s Len Harris.

Could this be the most fiercely fought Senate spot in the country as two sitting Senators (both likely to go) battle it out with against the rampant Greens and a serial crusader who helped bring down first Wayne Goss (as head of the anti Koala tollway group in ’95), then Peter Hollingworth?

Guard your sense of occasion as every noteworthy personal milestone becomes a publicity stunt in the fight for a few scraps from the media table. No family occasion will be too sacred from here on in.

Oh, and a final piece of Democrats wedding triva for you – Woodley also married Andrew Bartlett back in happier days for that relationship.

Peter Fray

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