Ludlam claims victory in WA Senate by-election

Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam looks to have secured his seat in the Western Australian Senate by-election held on Saturday.

The Greens party will keep its communications spokesman Scott Ludlam in the parliament on current projections on the vote in the Western Australian Senate by-election held on Saturday.

Image: Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet

Ludlam's spot in the Senate had been in doubt, with the first-term senator narrowly missing out , or just getting in, on the original vote count from the September 2013 election that the Court of Disputed Returns ultimately ruled was invalid after more than 1,000 ballot papers went missing.

Seven months later, a well-funded and high profile campaign, and one Senate speech that has garnered more than 850,000 views on YouTube, and Ludlam will, on the current count, be returned to the Senate for another six years.

According to the latest results from the Australian Electoral Commission, The Greens recorded 156,914 votes, or 15.88 percent in total in WA, a swing to the party of 6.39 percent.

The party of mining magnate, and Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer also picked up a Senate seat, recording 123,370 votes for 12.49 percent of the total. The party saw a swing to it of 7.48 percent.

Swings to the Palmer United Party and the Greens came at the expense of Labor and the Liberals. Labor picked up 21.76 of the primary vote, with a swing against it of 4.83 percent. The Liberal party recorded 33.71 percent of the vote, with a 5.49 percent swing against it.

The two major parties are currently battling it out in the preference flow for the sixth WA senate spot.

Ludlam, who has devoted much of his time in the parliament since 2008 to fighting for online rights, advocating for privacy and fighting against the rising surveillance state, told ZDNet last month that he plans to spend the next six years in parliament continuing to fight for these issues in a space where the two major parties have not been willing to focus on.

First and foremost will be his current inquiry on the extent of government surveillance through the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act.

"It'll stay very close to the top of my list, principally because there aren't a lot of other voices in there, particularly on the surveillance stuff. Labor is completely silent," Ludlam said last month. "On the underside of the communications and technology portfolio, there aren't a lot of voices in the mix, so I look forward to be able to continue to do it in that space."

Last month Labor's deputy leader Tanya Plibersek indicated that Labor supported laws that allow government agencies to access customer data from telecommunications companies without a warrant.

"I think that it is important to be able to — people describe it as keeping the haystack — so you can go back and look for the needle afterwards. We have disrupted some very serious terrorist plots in Australia. We've done it because we’ve got a strong intelligence community here. They do a good job. There continue to be threats. Those threats may increase for reasons that you've described and I want to give those agencies the maximum ability to do their job well within the bounds that people would expect," Plibersek said.

Attorney-General George Brandis has not yet indicated whether the government will move forward with plans to force ISPs to retain customer data for up to two years, but has previously indicated he will focus on national security as part of his portfolio.

The Attorney-General's Department has also made a push for data retention, and the decryption of encrypted data as part of its submission to Ludlam's inquiry.

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