I am struck by the repeated nature of requests I get for predictions of whether or not there will be a double dissolution and what the numbers may be in such an event. So here are the answers I give. I now think a double dissolution is more likely than not.

If there is one I would expect a general election for all members of both houses in, say, November 2009. It would be the eighth case of such a general election. The previous seven cases were in 1901, 1914, 1951, 1974, 1975, 1983 and 1987.

Following such a general election I would expect the numbers in the House of Representatives to be roughly the same as at present. The Senate, by contrast, would change significantly. At present the Coalition has 37 senators, Labor 32, the Greens five, Nick Xenophon (SA) one and Family First (Victoria) one.

In the new Senate I would expect the Coalition to have 34 (down three), Labor 33 (up one) and the Greens seven (up two). Each of Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding would retain his existing seat.

State by state I would expect Labor to keep its present numbers, except in Western Australia where it would gain one seat, and the Coalition would keep its present numbers, except in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland where it would lose one seat each. The Greens would lose one of its two seats in Western Australia but would gain one seat each in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Thus the Greens would rise from five to seven senators and would be represented in all six states. At present the Greens have senators only in Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia.

At present the combination of Labor and Greens is 37 senators. Under my prediction that number would rise to 40 and would be a majority of the 76-strong Senate.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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