Friday, 21st February 2014


The High Court declared the WA Senate result void, so the entire state will go back to the polls, most likely in April or May, to elect six federal senators. The result will dictate how many cross-bench votes the Abbott government needs to pass legislation through the upper house after July 1.

If the vote goes well for the Coalition, it will keep three spots, two will go to the ALP and Greens, and one will be an independent or Palmer senator who's amenable to the government's main legislative goals, such as repealing the carbon and mining taxes.

If it goes badly for the Coalition – and the ALP/Greens win three senate spots – it will need, across the whole senate, the votes of six out of seven cross-benchers to pass every piece of legislation; these being the three Palmer senators (including Motoring Enthusiast Ricky Muir), Nick Xenophon, Liberal Democrat, DLP, and Family First senators.

The Coalition needs to make its case to the people of Western Australia while simultaneously preparing the whole nation for a "tough" May budget. It will doubtless resurrect its campaign to repeal the carbon and mining taxes, which is likely to be popular in WA, and hope its poll numbers hold up against, most particularly, populist campaigning by the Palmer party and voters' urge to "send a message" (sponsored by the ALP or Greens). 

Abbott and his government have a lot to lose in the new vote, and not much to gain. 

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

Sign up to get Politicoz delivered
to your email address every weekday at lunch time.

Dick Warburton investigated over foreign bribery scandal

"The senior businessman appointed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to review Australia's renewable energy target has been the subject of a secret internal investigation into his role as a former director of a firm involved in Australia's worst foreign bribery scandal. The investigation findings were sent earlier this month to the Reserve Bank board and deal with Dick Warburton and his fellow former Note Printing Australia directors' knowledge and handling of Note Printing Australia's sanctions-busting trip to Iraq in 1998."

Medicare costs set to rise under Coalition revamp

"Health Minister Peter Dutton has signalled the Coalition is planning a major revamp of Medicare to address an “unsustainable” blowout in health costs, which is likely to include co-payments for medical services. “I want to start a national conversation about modernising and strengthening Medicare and helping to heal our health system,” Mr Dutton said on Wednesday."

WA election re-run pitches Greens and Palmer into fight for balance of power

"The Greens and the Palmer United party are each appealing to Western Australian voters to give them clear influence over the balance of power in the Senate when the state reruns its half-Senate election because of the dispute over lost ballot papers. Palmer foreshadowed a populist campaign in the poll, likely to be held in April or May."

AlsoWA half-Senate election spells a whole lot of uncertainty for Tony Abbott (Lenore Taylor)

Shocking claims after Manus Island bloodbath

"As blame is exchanged on the Manus Island detention centre bloodbath, it has been claimed that the Iranian asylum seeker killed on Monday night may have been murdered by out-of-control guards who stomped his skull as he lay defenceless on the ground. According to an account from an Australian guard working for security contractor GS4, obtained by New Corp, local guards working for GS4 were in a frenzy."

The whole point of detention for asylum seekers is horror, whether it is acknowledged or not

"Whatever these people are fleeing, whatever circumstance makes them think they'd be better off chancing death on boats hardly worthy of that description, we must offer them something worse. That something is Papua New Guinea. The worse it is, the more effective it is destined to be, and the more it fulfils the philosophical intentions of the policy... This is what it looks like when the policy works."

Trade-off for flexible working may be extended under new federal laws

"The Coalition foreshadowed the new legislation before the election, saying it was important to give employees the opportunity to work around other personal commitments. Employment Minister Eric Abetz says the Government is also preparing to announce the terms of reference for a Productivity Commission review of Labor's Fair Work laws."

Also: Doing the dirty work - Union-busting (Frank Bongiorno, Inside Story)

NBN Co to gain first access to Telstra copper in trials

"NBN Co is close to signing a deal with Telstra that will give it access to the copper network for trial purposes, in a move that will provide the first indication yet of whether Australia’s copper network can support faster broadband services... The trials will provide the clearest indication yet of whether Telstra's copper network, which union officials and critics have labelled as disastrous, can be used to speed up broadband services in Australia."

AlsoAustralia 'running out of money' for Medicare, says Treasurer Joe Hockey (SMH)