Because of the Proportional Representation Voting System, virtually no vote is wasted: votes cascade down like a tower of champagne glasses being filled with champagne and flowing over.
This also means, though, that people can be elected to the Senate on the primary votes of fewer than 200,000 Australians. This is why minor parties love the Senate. It also explains how Australian voters have chosen time and again to hand (but not at the 2004 election) the balance of power in the Senate to minor parties.
The minor parties have to put their hopes in canny preference deals. In the 2004 election, Family First got a Senator from Victoria up with just one per cent of the primary vote. They are clearly desperate to get more people up.
So desperate are they that Family First is doing deals with Pauline Hanson which could see her elected to the Senate.
Heaven forbid that long-standing minor parties - The Greens and the Democrats - who have a history of acting responsibly and involving and interacting with the mainstream polity of this nation should be preferenced ahead of ratbags, particularly ratbags with a racist history.