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Senate Poll proves Democrats are still in the race, but hard road still ahead.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/946 WEDNESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS Senate Poll proves Democrats are still in the race, but hard road still ahead The Australian Democrats have welcomed the first Senate Poll (Roy Morgan), which shows the Democrats are still in with a chance to retain the responsible Senate balance of power role. "Predictions of the Democrats’ death have once again been exaggerated," said party Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett. "However, the Senate race is far from over in any state and a wide range of outcomes are still very possible. Senate polls are less reliable, but this poll shows that the Democrats vote is clearly higher in the Senate than in the House of Representatives, which shows we have a better chance than many commentators have given us." "This poll has the Democrats’ Senate vote as high as 7 percent in some states, in contrast to some House of Reps polls which have had us at 1 or 2 percent. Depending on preference flows, the Liberals could still end up in de-facto control of the Senate with half of the seats, as could a Labor-Green coalition. There is also a real prospect of the balance of power being in the hands of a narrowly focused party or a single person like Pauline Hanson. "A Senate controlled, directly or by default, by either of the major parties would be a disaster for democracy, and mean a weaker, less independent Senate. "Those thinking of a protest vote for the Green Party in the Senate should consider whether they really want the Senate controlled by a new coalition of the Green Party and Labor. This would undoubtedly mean a less independent Senate," Senator Bartlett said. "This poll says we could win some or lose some. We will keep running hard right through to polling day in an effort to win in every state. This is the only way to ensure the Senate stays strong and independent." Senator Bartlett said while the Green’s decision to align themselves with Labor for preferences had made it harder for the Democrats, there was still a real chance to keep people like Aden Ridgeway and his Democrat colleagues in other states in the Senate. "With many preference deals aimed at removing the Democrats and weakening the Senate, we still need more people to put the Democrats First if we are to succeed at the election in keeping the Senate strong. "Our fate - and that of the Senate - rests in the hands of the voters. "The Senate should represent a wide range of Australians' political preferences and views. Keeping it from being a rubber stamp or being captive of narrow ideologies is more important than ever." Media contact - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649