Prime Minister John Howard will have control of the Senate after the National Party was today declared the winner of Queensland’s last Senate seat.
Nationals candidate Barnaby Joyce was announced the winner of the seat following the Australian Electoral Commission’s completion of the final computer count on the complex Senate preference distribution, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
This gives the coalition government 39 of the Senate’s 76 seats, and means from July next year Howard will be able to pass controversial legislation previously blocked by the Senate.
LGBT community leaders agree the coalition’s control of the Senate could spell very bad news the nation’s queer population.
If the government of the day has absolute control of the Senate they can do everything they want and they can stop everything they want, said Democrats Senator Brian Greig, who will retire next July following the loss of his seat.
Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Rob McGrory said it was unlikely there would be any positive reforms under the new Howard government and is concerned of further attacks to LGBT rights.
Rodney Croome recently told Sydney Star Observer the government already has a number of anti-gay policies up their sleeve. He expects the Coalition to move swiftly to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to allow states to block single and lesbian women from accessing artificial reproductive technology. It will also re-introduce its ban on same-sex couple overseas adoption and re-consider overriding same-sex couple adoption in the ACT, Croome said.
The government will also consider banning marriage between transgender couples, Croome predicted.
Further down the track they may also consider amending the federal constitution to ban same-sex marriages and all partnership registers.
He said Howard will attempt to water down and even eliminate federal unfair dismissal laws, including provisions protecting employees from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
Croome believes there needs to be a national and well-resourced LGBT organisation to face these new challenges. The Equal Rights Network, formed in January by a coalition of state rights lobby groups, was not organised or unified enough to do the job, he said.
It will be the first time an Australian government has held such power since the Fraser government in the 1970s.