There is now great optimism in the Coalition that its carbon and mining tax abolition, deregulation and the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation will pass the Senate in July.
Business should be ready for the changes, and not before time.
The latest opinion polls give a clear indication that the WA half Senate election will follow previous elections and ensure the passage.
Newspoll has the government doing well against the ALP, while the Morgan poll has the ALP ahead. However, in Western Australia, Morgan says that the Coalition scores 54.5 per cent of the vote compared to the ALP’s 45.5 per cent.
No state was hit harder than WA by the previous government’s carbon tax disaster. Although it did not raise money, the existence of the mining tax contributed to the demise of many proposed WA mining developments. In addition, the cartel agreements between big unions and big commercial buildings devastated the cost of new projects.
Finally, WA is in the front line of the refugee crisis. Abbott’s success in stopping the boats gives him hero status in many parts of the state.
It is not surprising that despite a national opinion poll putting the ALP in front, the trend is well and truly reversed in WA.
Assuming the Coalition retains its Senate seats in WA, then from July 1 when the new Senate takes office, the government needs the support of six other senators.
It is not widely understood in Australia that the Senate results in all states, including the ill-fated WA poll, produced remarkably similar results when it comes to Senate control.
In the initial count of the September polls, Australians elected one right-wing, non-major party senator in each state. In WA, Queensland and Tasmania, the right-wing senator was a member of the Palmer United Party. In New South Wales it was a Liberal Democrat; in Victoria it was the Australian Motorist Party (which later aligned with Palmer); and in South Australia it was Family First.
All of these six right-wing non major party senators quickly combined in an alliance -- the so called ‘Six’ -- to back and deliver the legislation Tony Abbott promised in the election campaign, subject to one caveat: that the Coalition would not link with the ALP or Greens to emasculate the current Senate voting system prior to the new senators taking office on July 1 (Abbott has won control of the Senate,October 9; How six senators with transform Australia, October 10).
In the ill-fated recount in WA, the Australian Sports Party defeated the Palmer Party and the Greens defeated the ALP, but the Greens and ALP take a similar stand on most major Abbott promises.
Although the recount was declared invalid, the WA recount also followed the pattern of the other elections and ‘elected’ a non-major party, right-wing candidate (the Australian Sports Party) for the final Senate seat.
In the unlikely event that the WA Senate election produces a different result to each of the five states and the two WA counts, then the “Six” will become “Five”.
Abbott needs one more supporter in the Senate. There are two other non-major party senators: Nick Xenophon, who is outside the above pattern, and a DLP Senator from Victoria who did not join ‘the Six’. The DLP, on many of the basic legislation issues promised by Abbott, may line up with the non-major party right-wingers -- hence the optimism in the Coalition.