Although the Western Australia Senate election re-run threatened to further muddy the balance of power from July 1, a repeat of the 4-2 September 2013 result for the right has maintained the status quo, with the government requiring 6 of 8 crossbench votes in order to progress its legislative agenda.
Whereas the government is likely to obtain the numbers to repeal the Carbon Price Mechanism (CPM) in the new Senate, its ability to appease the minor parties will be critical to the successful passage of the Direct Action Plan.
With Family First and the Liberal Democratic Party strongly opposed to Direct Action, the government may be forced to work with Senators Xenophon (1 vote) and Madigan (1) , along with Palmer United Party (PUP) (4), in order to obtain the 6 votes required to enact its Direct Action policy, or look across the aisle to the ALP/Greens.
While all eyes are on Clive Palmer, Senators Xenophon and Madigan may represent an equal concern for the government, with both Senators favouring a more environmentally and economically stringent ‘baseline and credit’ scheme to replace the CPM, a position which is likely to be in stark contrast to PUP and concerns over punitive safeguards.
Following the Western Australia Senate election re-run, in this Policy Update we take a closer look at voting intensions on climate policy in the new Senate from July 1, with a focus on where each party stands on Direct Action and the government’s prospects of obtaining 39 votes.
With Senators Xenophon and Madigan appearing likely to form a voting bloc on the Direct Action Plan, can the government design draft legislation which appeases both arms of the new balance of power?