It’s been an awful election for Labor in the Senate. The ALP needed to get at least 33 seats – preferably 34 – to help them steer their legislation through the Senate. They didn’t. South Australia and the West denied them.

The results appear to be shaping up this way:

NSW: Three ALP; two Liberal; one National
VIC: Three ALP; three Liberal
QLD: Three ALP; two Liberal; one National
WA: Two ALP; three Liberal; one Green
SA: Two ALP; two Liberal; one independent; one Green
TAS: Three ALP; two Liberal; one Green
ACT: One ALP; one Liberal
NT: One ALP; one Country Liberal Party

This means that after July 1 next year the Senate numbers will be:

Coalition: 37 (32 Liberal; four Nationals; one CLP)
Labor: 32
Greens: 5
Family First: 1
Independent: 1

Before 2004 and control of both houses, the Howard government had plenty of room to move. Some measures got through with Labor support and others with the assistance of the Democrats, even if some of their Senators voted against them. Then there was the famous Harradine/Colston tag team.

Labor’s options look awful. Before the new Senate sits, they really have to hope for Coalition support. Their other option is for support from the Democrats, the Greens, Family First and two Coalition floor crossers.

After 1 July it will be nearly as bad. Labor will need the support of the Coalition or the Greens, Family First and No Pokies independent Nick Xenophon.

Bob Brown did very well in Tasmania personally. He scored a quota in his own right which combined with the ALP’s higher vote took a Senate seat off the Coalition. Elsewhere, though, they must have been a tad disappointed.

In NSW the Greens lost Senator Kerry Nettle (which perhaps has something to do with Kerry Nettle herself). In the lower house their vote went down, even in inner city seats such as Sydney and Grayndler.

They won seats in WA and SA, but as always Bob Brown’s hyperbole and the democratic choices of Australians didn’t coincide.

They only a small chance of winning a Senate seat in Victoria and no chance in the ACT. The Greens seem to have reached their peak.

The Nationals may yet assert themselves, but even then the Senate will be tight for the ALP. Which might suit the Labor hardheads well. They can knock back any Green demands they don’t like.

“I’d love to help you, mate,” their Senate strategists can say, “but that mad Greek from Adelaide and that clapper from Victoria won’t have a bar of it. You’ll just have to go with what we’re putting up.”