“[Clive Palmer has been] a member of the National Party, then the LNP, for many, many years and he is a conservative, so you’d think that it would be in his interests to have a strong and successful conservative government.”

You’d think. But with Clive, sometimes it seems there’s not a whole lot of thinking going on.

That quote was Tony Abbott’s rather optimistic hopes for the new Parliament, where regardless of whether the Queensland mining magnate secures a seat in the lower house (the recount continues) three of his already vocal mouthpieces will be sitting on the red benches in the Senate next year. That means the government will need PUP to get any bills through, if Labor and the Greens vote “no”. That’s power.

As Stephen Bartos wrote this week, Palmer steams into uncharted territory. How he’ll manage his various conflicts — and how he’ll direct his senators — will be a real test of Palmer and of the Parliament.

And for Abbott — who complained incessantly about the dysfunctionality of the previous Parliament — how he wrangles a disgruntled party member and his Senate puppets could be his biggest test.

Will he have the same negotiating ability of the previous PM?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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