9 September 2013 – Tony Abbott and the Coalition have won the election. But according to the way the numbers roll in the Senate the Carbon Tax and quite possibly the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could be safe for another year.
A year is a long time in politics and global warming.
The influx of a large number of independents in the Senate was the possibility noted by some observers, which we flagged last week. We called them the marginal and loonies. Other commentators on Monday called them “misfits” and there was reference to former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s term for the Senate as “unrepresentative swill”.
Either way, it poses a nightmare for Abbott wanting to pass legislation.
The expectation is for the balance of power in the Senate to be held by The Greens and up to seven independents.
The likely line up of independents will be two representatives from Clive Palmer’s party, Nick Xenophon, John Madigan from the DLP, Bob Day from Family First, and representatives from the Liberal Democratic Party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, and the Australian Sports Party.
None of this bodes well for Tony Abbott.
Some predictions on Monday were that the potential dysfunction of the Senate will make the last Parliament look like “a walk in the park”.
Among the most unexpected good news for climate and carbon is the strong support for The Greens who of course will staunchly defend the carbon tax.
The party looks to win 10 seats in the Senate and has held the seat of Melbourne in the Lower House despite expectations the seat would fall to one of the major parties.
Greens Leader Christine Milne said The Greens held strong despite the conservative swing and she declared Victoria a Greens stronghold.
“What I’d think is extraordinary here is that The Greens said that we would be judged at this election by whether or not we could hold our seats in the course of a conservative tide coming in across the country. We have,” Fairfax Media reported.
The Greens attracted an 8.4 per cent primary vote. It looked to pick up new Victorian Senator, Janet Rice.
Labor also signalled it would defend the carbon tax and that the rout against it was about its leadership problems not its policies. The retention of its leadership team has also emboldened strong fighting words.
Potential new Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Mark Butler said Labor would not change position on the carbon tax and other important policy principles.
“We are absolutely going to defend taking action on climate change,’’ Mr Albanese told media.
Mr Albanese argued Labor must defend its legacy. “We have a mandate for strong action to protect jobs, strong action to roll out programs like the national broadband network, make sure that we take action on climate change,” he said.
“I see no reason why we should walk away from our legacy.”
Labor was punished by voters for internal instability but “we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”.