Malcolm Turnbull's Senate battle could be country's gain

A MONUMENTAL challenge and a huge opportunity.

That is what Blair MP Shayne Neumann said was facing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when it comes to dealing with a complex Senate.

Mr Neumann said the Senate looked as though it would have more cross-benchers than ever before with the Coalition appearing to have lost seats, Labor making gains and the Greens set to lose at least one seat.

The Greens vote was a disappointment.

More than one in four Australians voted for other than a major party in the lower house with that ratio even higher in the Senate.

But while the disparate group of crossbenchers will present their own challenges, Mr Neumann said the opportunities for bipartisanship were also real.

"It will be a political nightmare for Malcolm Turnbull and a huge challenge to get legislation through," Mr Neumann said.

"And unless he gets the support of the Labor Party he is going to have to turn to the crossbenchers.

"But therein lies the opportunity for bipartisanship.

"If Turnbull needs to get legislation through it is Labor that he needs to turn to, as a constructive Opposition.

"If he doesn't get Labor's support he won't be able to get it through without a whole kaleidoscope of crossbenchers.

"When Bill Shorten spoke about bi-partisanship, there is opportunity here.

"There is a lot of agreement between the parties on superannuation for example.

"That is where if the Turnbull Government is clever they will engage the Labor opposition to get through some significant superannuation reform."

Aside from that, Mr Neumann conceded Mr Turnbull's challenge remained immense.

"I think he'll have to be very responsive and better at negotiating than his predecessor Tony Abbott," he said.

"He should listen to the voice of many people, particularly the crossbenchers who have been very critical of what he's done in terms of his over reach with industrial relations with the ABCC and his attacks on Medicare."

Nick Xenophon will have three Senate seats in South Australia at least, while Pauline Hanson's One Nation looks likely to get between two and four seats.

"She will be someone of course who in the maelstrom and bizarre world of Canberra politics that people will have to engage with and talk to if she has numbers in the Senate," Mr Neumann said of Ms Hanson's influence.

"As a Labor Party front-bencher over the last three years I have had to deal with all manner of crossbenchers like Jacqui Lambie and Nick Xenophon.

"If there is no agreement between the major political parties than the minors have to be turned to and listened to.

"You are looking at an uncoordinated group of crossbenchers from Nick Xenophon to Derryn Hinch, Pauline Hanson and The Greens. They take in a full spectrum of views from the left to the right."


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