Prime minister, Tony Abbott has backed away from his threat of a double dissolution and now says that the next election will be in 2016. He claims to be confident that his budget will pass, claiming that the minor parties will understand the need for tough measures.
Either he thinks that the threats he made are certain to work, or he has already put a deal in place. On the other hand, he may be bluffing:
... He was confident the minor parties and Senate independents would “understand” the harsh measures in his government’s first budget and accept his mandate to govern.
“Whenever the next election comes, the people will judge us on what we’ve done and before the election we said we’d stop the boats, we’d scrap the carbon tax, we’d build the roads of the twenty-first century, we’d get the budget back under control,” he said in an appearance on ABC’s Insiders program. …
… Mr Abbott last week warned that some of the incoming Senate crossbenchers — including Palmer United Party, Family First, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party — would be unlikely to keep their seats if there was a new election.
His comments were widely interpreted as a threat of a double dissolution election to the crossbenchers who might be contemplating voting against some of the budget’s major measures. …
… “I’m confident that the minor parties and the independents in the Senate will understand that we could not go on living the way we were, we could not go one mortgaging the future.
“Now if they don’t like what we’re putting up, what are they going to put up as an alternative. …
If it is a matter of pulling the required votes from the minor parties, then some of the incoming senators must have backed down from their stated opposition to key points in the budget. The DLP senator and Xenophon have been reasonably quiet, so it’s possible that they will vote with the government, but they need another four.
Liberal Democrat, David Leyonhjelm, and FF’s Bob Day are both fiscal conservatives who oppose tax increases as a matter of principle, so it’s unlikely that they have been swayed. Leyonhjelm would be lynched by his party if he were to change his mind on this, so he is out of the equation.
This pretty much leaves the three PUP senators and their bought or rented Motoring Enthusiasts Party guy, Ricky Muir to make up the four. Given the statements of Clive Palmer, it is difficult to see how this could happen, but Clive has plenty of media operatives around him who would be able to spin the term, “save his skin,” into something meaning the same, but sounding noble and even self-sacrificing.
There is another possibility though.
Since the 1975 ‘dismissal’ oppositions have regarded as almost sacred the idea that the government has a right to have its budget passed. They kick and scream up till the point of the vote, then back down in the name of convention. Shorten has been foaming at the mouth since budget night, but the line he has adopted will leave him exposed to the rotten fish smell of the fiscal profligacy of the previous government owing to his assertion that the budget position is strong.
It’s a reasonable bet that the budget will pass with Labor backing.