The Senate is one of the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament. It consists of 76 senators, twelve from each of the six states and two from each of the mainland territories. It shares the power to make laws with the other House of the Parliament, the House of Representatives.
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The new Senate
An election for all Senate seats was held on 2 July 2016 after the dissolution of the Senate on 9 May. The new Senate contains its largest cross-bench of 20 senators (9 AG and 11 others), compared with 18 senators (10 AG and 8 others) at the end of the 44th Parliament. Previously, the highest number had been 13 senators, in 2002-2005.
Further information about the Senate count can be found on the Australian Electoral Commission's website.
State senators must be divided into two classes: short-term senators whose terms expire on 30 June 2019, and long-term senators whose terms expire on 30 June 2022. It is a matter for the Senate to determine how this division takes place. On the seven previous occasions when this has been necessary the practice has been to allocate senators according to the order of their election. An alternative method is contained in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, involving a recount using the quota for a normal half-Senate election. More information is available in Odgers' Australian Senate Practice.
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