Imre Salusinszky is absolutely right in The Australian today. John Howard is gone. The big question now is which Ministers will lose their seats and who will control the Senate.

The announcement of all candidates on Friday afternoon and yesterday’s release of the group voting tickets for the Senate were both disappointing in the lack of detailed coverage each event received in the mainstream press.

After the press gallery completely missed the Senate story last time, you’d think the papers would be all over the group voting tickets, which are one of the few concrete events of the campaign.

Tim Colebatch produced the best summary in The Age today but despite Steve Fielding getting up in Victoria on Labor preferences last time, the Herald Sun ignored the preference flows and even The Australian only managed a few paragraphs pointing out that Pauline Hanson has gone to Labor ahead of the conservatives in Queensland.

Poor old Hanson is completely friendless again. She’s directed her first preferences in the Queensland Senate race to One Nation WA which has reciprocated by putting her 55th out of 65. It’s the same old story – Pauline will make a decent six figure profit courtesy of public funding of $2.10 a vote but she won’t win.

The Greens are looking good to win at least four seats because Labor is going straight to them before anyone else in most states. The Greens also appear to have played the minor party preferences game well as new party (Green stooges?) What Women Want is preferencing them first in most states, along with the Climate Change Coalition. Bob Brown copped all major players preferencing against him in 2001 but this time he’s got an excellent flow from most of the independents in Tasmania.

Nick Xenophon is looking good in South Australia, provided he can stay ahead of the combined Greens/Democrat vote. However, even Family First are going to the Liberals after Mr X, who pulled off one of his trademark stunts on Friday with a sandwich board in Rundle Mall and a big “S” on his forehead, signalling his letter on the ballot. At least The Advertiser website covered the South Australian minor party flows properly today.

Labor is getting very ordinary preference flows in South Australia so there is a prospect we could get Xenophon plus a Green with the two majors reduced to just two each.

Finally, the Democrats and Family First appear highly unlikely to win anywhere. The Dems have also dropped their neutral position in states such as Queensland where the split ticket is out and they have gone to Labor ahead of the government.

Today’s Mayne Report video features an uncomfortable Peter Costello talking pokies at the Higgins ballot draw on Friday before beating a hasty retreat from our camera.

Peter Fray

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