7 Sep 2013

You can have your cake, but can you eat it Mr Abbott?

Is this a rock cake?

The Labor government made it easy for Tony Abbott. Labor's mafia mob mentality of the eternal blood feud, its failures and sheer narcissism drove voters away. On Sunday, when Labor dissolves, Abbott is anointed and the hard work begins.
He faces three serious problems of his own making. First, consider this pair of clashing commitments: he's promised to repeal the carbon tax by all means necessary, yet at the same time to deliver stable government.
The Coalition has no realistic hope of winning a majority in the Senate. 
There's a good chance he will not be able to achieve both. Because while the Coalition will win decisively in the House of Representatives, it has no realistic hope of winning a majority in the Senate. The best result Abbott can realistically hope for is that the Coalition will come close to a majority, that one or two independents will hold the balance of power, and they might negotiate on key Coalition items.

But there is an equally high chance that Labor and the Greens will retain enough Senate seats to block Abbott's agenda. For years, Abbott has said this would not stop him; he'd dissolve both Houses of Parliament and call another election within months to break the blockage. The constitution allows for such a double dissolution election so a determined government can try to get its way.

Fair enough, but how does this deliver stable government? A big confrontation in the Senate - all the howling and growling and teeth-baring and chest-beating of male baboons in a struggle for primacy - followed by another frenetic election campaign, and another election, all within the year?

Does that sound like stable government? Is that a good way to achieve the investor confidence the Coalition likes to promise?

The two are mutually exclusive. This is why, with the House result a foregone conclusion, the Senate is the really big open question in the election.

The Liberal senator for NSW and John Howard's long-time chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos put it starkly this week. Without the Senate, he said: "What's the point of winning?" That's how high the stakes are in the Senate.
Bitter sweet winners cup


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