Micro-parties plot Senate win
Micro-parties plot Senate win

Members of so-called micro-parties have begun cutting preference swaps deal ahead of WA's Senate election, promising they will get another surprise candidate elected to the Upper House.

But the negotiations have alarmed sitting senators, who warn fringe parties are exploiting loopholes in electoral rules to game the system.

Consultant Glenn Druery, nicknamed the "preference whisperer", held a meeting of minor parties in Sydney at the weekend.

Mr Druery said that provided they followed his advice on preference swap deals, micro-parties had a strong chance of winning a Senate seat at the April 5 poll.

"Mathematically it's almost impossible to fail," he told _The West Australian _. "Well, that's not quite true . . . but if they operate with the strategies I teach them, they have a very good chance."

The previously little-known Australian Sports Party came close to winning a WA Senate seat at last year's election after working with Mr Druery.

The Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich was at the meeting on Saturday with about 30 other members of the "minor party alliance". It is understood representatives from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, the Sustainable Population Party, the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party and the Help End Marijuana Prohibition also took part.

Under Mr Druery's complex system, micro-parties agree to channel preference flows to each other, giving them a chance to win a Senate seat despite receiving only a small number of votes.

Mr Druery said he was doing nothing wrong and his efforts were helping "ordinary Australians" find a voice in politics.

But independent Senator Nick Xenophon said such deals were a "distortion of democracy".

Geraldton businessman Shane Van Styn will take the number one spot on the WA Nationals Senate ticket after former Eagles star David Wirrpanda confirmed he would not stand.

The WA Nationals concede privately the prospect of winning their first Senate spot in 35 years looks bleak.

Mr Van Styn was the WA Nationals candidate for the Lower House seat of Durack at last year's election.

Esperance farmer and Nationals WA State president Colin de Grussa will take the second Senate spot on the party's ticket.

The WA Nationals have been slow out of the blocks for the Senate poll re-run, with the Liberals, Greens, Labor and Palmer United Party all making their opening pitch to voters on Friday within hours of the confirmation of the election date.

Some WA Nationals complain they are considered too big by the micro-parties to cut into their preference deals, while at the other end of the scale, Labor preferenced the Liberals ahead of the Nationals in September.

The West Australian

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