New minor parties appear set to play a key role in the Senate, with billionaire Clive Palmer's party likely to pick up two spots in Queensland and Tasmania and a party for motoring enthusiasts on track to win a seat in Victoria.

Vote counting for the Senate is continuing, and preference deals mean even a tiny percentage of the popular vote can influence the outcome.

The Senate will remain under the control of Labor and the Greens until mid-2014, and after that it appears an assortment of parties will play a key role in what Tony Abbott can achieve.

In a surprise result, former rugby league player Glen Lazarus appears to have (PUP), which is also likely to be represented by Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party's Ricky Muir could secure a Senate spot in Victoria, while the Australian Sports Party may pick up a seat in Western Australia.

Independent Nick Xenophon and the Greens' Sarah Hanson-Young are likely to retain their seats in South Australia, where Family First's Bob Day also appears to have claimed a seat.

Speaking to the ABC's Insiders program, Senator Xenophon described the results as "very interesting".

"It happens because of the way preference flows work and there are harvesting of preferences," he said.

"I didn't get any advantage from anyone. I always had to win basically two full quotas in order for my running mate to get up but there is a lack of transparency in terms of preference deals.

"For instance, in South Australia, the Greens preferenced the climate sceptics ahead of my running mate who actually believes in climate change and believes that something needs to be done about it in a very constructive way.

"So, all sorts of bizarre preference flows all over the shop. Clive Palmer, a coal miner, preferenced the Greens ahead of my running mate in South Australia. You go figure."

Former Greens leader Bob Brown says the mixed bag of parties likely to be in the Senate is only a good thing for the nation.

"Congratulations to the other parties who have done well, including Clive Palmer's party which has put in such a showing," he said.

"There's going to be a big diversity in the Senate come July next year. Tony Abbott has not got control of the Senate and that's a good thing for the country."

Olympian Nova Peris, who was Julia Gillard's "captain's pick" for the Senate, has become after winning a seat in the Northern Territory.

"It is a good accomplishment and backs up our accomplishment in terms of jobs for Indigenous Australians," Labor powerbroker Bill Shorten said.

However in a blow to Labor, Don Farrell appears to have been edged out of the Senate after sacrificing his top spot on the ticket to ensure the return of Penny Wong.

"That was the right decision to make at the time. I've got no regrets about that," he told ABC News.

"I'm a person who likes to look forward rather than back. We've had to make some tough decisions over this period of time. The party has been very divided in the past. We need to reunite now."

The Greens look to have increased their Senate representation by picking up a seat in Victoria.

According to the ABC's election calculator, which models the Senate result, the Coalition is on track to pick up 33 seats across Australia.

In contrast it predicts Labor has taken 25, while the Greens will claim 10 seats and eight will go to other parties.

 

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