Australia’s newly elected conservative Liberal-National coalition is already applying pressure on the defeated Australian Labor Party (ALP) to “honour” what it says is a mandate to repeal the carbon price legislation.
Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott has instructed his department to begin drawing up the legislation to repeal the carbon price laws put in place in July last year.
“My emphasis will be on being purposeful, methodical, calm and conscientious,” he told Fairfax radio.
“And the last thing I want to do is rush the Parliament back for a photo opportunity before the substance of the work is there for it to do.”
The coalition is on track for a 32-seat majority after wresting a swathe of seats from Labor and independents in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria in Saturday’s election.
“We want to set out now to do what we said we would do, and the only people who stand between Australia and lower electricity prices are the Labor Party,” Mr Hunt said.
However, both Labor and the Australian Greens Party have indicated they will not support moves to repeal the carbon price laws, nor will they support the coalition’s direct action scheme to address climate change.
Senior Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen echoed other senior Labor figures when he said today his party’s stance was clear.
“The Labor Party believes that we need to do something about it.
The Labor Party believes that a market mechanism is the best way to do that, and we won’t be walking away from those beliefs,” he said on ABC TV’s News24.
Labor’s opposition to the moves, would leave the bills deadlocked in the upper house Senate and could trigger a double dissolution election; an option Mr Abbott has said he is prepared to take.
The alternative would be to wait until newly elected senators, which given the unusual results from the election will mean as many as eight independent and minor party senators, take their seats next July.
Mr Abbott has said Labor and the minor parties should respect what he says is the new government’s mandate.
“In the end they all need to respect the government of our nation has a mandate and the Parliament should work with the government of the day to implement its mandate,” he told Fairfax radio.
“Now I know it’s a two-way street and respect has got to be earned rather than merely demanded, but nevertheless the people voted for change and change they will get.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne, whose party will hold the balance of power until July next year, has said the incoming minor party senators may still prove to be a challenge.
“When the new Senate takes place, he (Mr Abbott) will have to get six out of eight, if the current numbers are the ones that are returned, six out of eight of those people to vote with him at any one time and who knows where they stand on anything,” she said.
“For most of them, there is no policy platform, there is no philosophical view.”
For his part, billionaire mining magnate turned political leader Clive Palmer, who is likely to have one lower house seat and two Senators, has said he supports scrapping the carbon price, with conditions.
“Our policy is to repeal the carbon tax and to refund the money from the day it was introduced,” he said.
“The Coalition’s policy, I understand it, is to repeal the tax but not to refund the amount of money raised by it.”
“They have a decisive mandate by a majority of Australians and a very clear majority,” BCA president Tony Shepherd said.
“I think it would be very difficult for a senator to vote against the will, on such important issues, the will of the majority of Australians.
“So I would call for the senators, the existing senators and the new ones, to be very careful how they cast their vote on those two issues given that this has clearly been coalition policy for a long time and has been supported by a majority of Australians.”
Mr Abbott has flagged changes to the voting system for the Senate to ensure voters know exactly whom they are voting for and where there preferences will flow, but he says he will wait for advice from a parliamentary committee before acting.
Today, briefings on the situation in Syria and the UN Security Council are on the agenda for the Prime Minister-elect as he sets about finalising his frontbench team.
Mr Abbott has arrived in Canberra to begin the process of taking over government.
Coalition MPs and senators will be called to Canberra for a party room meeting later this week to endorse the leadership team.
The official swearing in of the new government is slated for early next week.