Jul 16, 2014

Rundle: Clive runs riot as Abbott holds his breath

This was meant to be the Abbott government's fortnight of triumph, repealing carbon tax and mining tax hand-in-hand with the newbie senators. But Palmer had other ideas ...

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


"I won’t be filibustering like Senator [Doug] Cameron," said Senator Ian Macdonald, after spending 10 minutes assembling a Dorothy Dixer that would give Jean-Claude Van Cormann a chance to attack the Australian Workers' Union and reveal -- shock -- that there were links between Labor and trade unions. Wednesday morning in the Senate, and the carbon tax that was meant to be abolished with a flourish nine days ago is still wending its way slowly through the red benches. "I could talk about the mining tax," Macdonald continued, "but that’s a matter for another day." Another day? It’s meant to be coming later this morning or early this afternoon. By now, the Abbott government’s fondest hope has been dashed -- that the first sitting of the new Senate would be a chance to show off its "government by adults" style, with a crossbench snugly to the Right of the Coalition (the Greens now appear to be counted and not counted in the crossbenches, depending on context. Seems to be all about the way you say it, which doesn’t help in pronunciation). That seems foolish now. Though the government is getting what it wants -- carbon tax repeal, FOFA gutting -- it is being put through the wringer. Yesterday, when FOFA was done down through a deal with PUP -- well come on, with Palmer -- the Palmersaurus himself sloped into the Senate chamber to hear that his substantially ineffectual amendments were being read into the record by Jean-Claude. Thus they were, and he departed again. Last week Joe Hockey was on holiday while in Canberra, Palmer announced that PUP would fillet $12 billion worth of budget measure savings. Tony Abbott was in the desert, setting Australia-China relations back by decades. This week, Hockey was here, but Abbott was in Sydney, primping and puffing himself to pay obeisance to Rupert. It’s a funny way to give the impression of leadership. But perhaps it is well strategically thought out. Not so much a question of giving Clive enough rope as enough china shop, and hope that the public tire of him. That works on the supposition that the public was ever drawn to him in any large numbers -- which outside of the seat of Fairfax, they weren’t. The wholly inaccurate picture of him as a "populist" has led people to suppose that he’s playing to the public gallery. Actually, PUP has converted itself immediately into an insider party, specialising in retail amendment deals. Having never been seen as a representative of the people, he can’t really lose that much of it. The government -- having disdained actually speaking to PUP until a week or so before the new Senate commenced -- now appear to have gone to the plan B of letting Palmer exhaust himself and pull too many swift moves to gain future support. They will be hoping against hope that the PUP Senate bloc doesn’t hold. The mining tax, when it comes around, is another purportedly open-and-shut case that will be neither. PUP has committed to support its repeal, but last Monday, at the National Press Club, the Palmersauraus revealed that he wouldn’t be supporting the abolition of the tax and benefits measures that had been connected to it -- the low-income superannuation contribution, the income support bonus and the schoolkids' bonus. Everyone except the Leyonhjelm/Day axis has jumped on the low-income super provisions, and Labor and PUP are committing to doing down all three income support abolitions, while the Greens have committed only to the low-income super support. Labor and Xenophon/Madigan are also holding out against any monkeying with the superannuation guarantee charge. And Leyonhjelm isn’t opposing any of those abolitions, but wants to gut the rest of the bill, which removes all the provisions put in to compensate business for some associated losses. I can’t say I’ve got it clear in my head, but none of it will get up anyway. And of course as we can now reasonably suppose, when the bill does come around, the PUP position will most likely change again. If it gets done at all in this session, it will most likely be at 2am on Sunday. Stay tuned for matters of another day.

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13 thoughts on “Rundle: Clive runs riot as Abbott holds his breath

  1. klewso

    “… Life is a minestrone,
    Served up with Palmer-san cheese ….”

  2. paddy

    Let’s face it. Clive is in parliament for his own benefit.
    If he can hold his flaky crew together, (not a sure bet) he’ll just wrangle as many concessions from the Govt as possible and happily leave the seat of Fairfax next election.
    He’s a coal baron who happens to sit in parliament.
    Kicking Abbott around and hogging the spotlight is just a bonus on the side right now.

  3. MJPC

    Paddy, you have summarised it in one. For Palmer this is a game of when and how he can get on the nightly news (providing it’s not the 7.30 report) and the front pages next day.
    Populist? Let’s see him vote against something that directly affects his financial interests…not on your nelly.

  4. klewso

    Will Lambie be the first to flake off?

  5. zut alors

    Palmer is generating energy by having too much fun so it’s unlikely he’ll exhaust himself. He can maintain this for two more years while the voters of Fairfax twig they did a dud deal.

    Meantime he continues to maul an arrogant government – exposing them as fools and himself as a self-interested showoff.

  6. SusieQ

    And out of all of this, does anyone actually care for us, the humble citizens??

  7. JohnB

    Zut touched on an interesting fact. Clive has been elected for 3 years. His Pups have been elected to 6-year terms in the Upper House.

    Clive may well keep his litter together for three years, while he shares their box. Will he be able to call the shots from the sideline if/when he is removed from parliament by the voters of the seat of Fairfax as surely they must in less than 2.5 years’ time?

  8. bushby jane

    He only just got in the first time didn’t he? Lambie is all mouth, she said she was always going to act for Tasmanians but the abolition of the carbon price is going to adversely affect Tasmania by hundreds of millions of dollars. So she got that wrong, also I would think the FoFA stuff too as there are a lot of less well off superannuants in Tasmania who are vulnerable to these crooks. Bring on a double dissolution and get rid of the lot of them!

  9. Yclept

    SusieQ, aren’t you a silly billy. We’re just here to pay for all this fun!

  10. Dennis Bauer

    Townsville, North, and West, working class think a lot of Clive,I think he is more popular than Bob Katter, now, for a while at least. I don’t think people realise how close the coal workers are tied to the conservatives,and of course very right wing labour. It’s not surprising any more, how high working class wages are tied to negative gearing, conservatives, mining barons. And of course their paying far too much tax, and if you get rid of all the dole bludgers and unmarried mothers and any others below a certain level of pay, they wouldn’t have to pay so much tax. Allan Jones seems to be on every radio network through Queensland, Central, North, and West, morning and evening, and very well liked.

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