Senate doubt clouds climate policy

Sports and Motoring Enthusiasts parties still to declare support for repeal of carbon tax. Other micro-party senators to block Direct Action alternative.

With micro-parties likely to hold a substantial number of seats in the Senate, considerable doubt now exists surrounding abolition of the carbon trading scheme or tax and implementation of the Coalition’s Direct Action scheme.

While Abbott can probably draw upon the support of several of the micro-parties in repealing the carbon tax, he needs at least one extra vote from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party or the Australian Sports Party to get a majority in the Senate (although one Palmer United Party senator-elect has also indicated they might block the repeal).

The Australian reports that Ricky Muir, the potential senator for the Motoring Enthusiasts Party, doesn't know what his party will do in negotiations over the carbon tax and what policies the party might be prepared to trade off.

Wayne Dropulich, the prospective senator of the Australian Sports Party, has also refused to offer an opinion on the carbon price in an interview with WA Today.

These two potential senators hold considerable power in negotiations with the Coalition, if they choose to wield it. Both would be unlikely to succeed in gaining a second term, so they need to seize their opportunities to further their core causes of increased funding for sport, in one case, and reduced restrictions over motor vehicle use for the other.

One would expect the Coalition would be willing to grant considerable concessions to secure their vote for repeal of the emissions trading scheme. So given how pivotal their votes will be, this represents a prize opportunity if they play their cards right, and possibly even collaborate.

It also has emerged that the Coalition will face resistance from micro-party senators to implement its own emissions reduction alternative. In addition to Xenophon’s long-standing criticism of the Coalition’s Direct Action scheme, the Democratic Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and Family First have also expressed concerns with the policy.

The Australian quotes Liberal Democrats prospective senator David Leyonhjelm stating:

"We will have no problem with repealing the carbon tax, but we would have a lot of problems with Tony Abbott's direct action policy. We think it's idiotic. We're not very keen on spending taxpayers' money in that way."