Abbott may be forced to woo Greens

Federal election 2013 coverageTim Colebatch: Bringing a barnyard of crossbenchers to heel

Tony Abbott spent three years lambasting Labor for its deals with the Greens but the incoming prime minister may be forced to rely on Greens support to implement his signature election policy, paid parental leave.

The scheme faces overwhelming opposition among the independents and micro parties who will hold the balance of power in the new Senate.

None of the eight independents likely to take a Senate seat from July has so far offered any backing for paid parental leave.

By comparison, Mr Abbott’s plans to axe carbon pricing and the mining tax would find more willing support if he is forced to wait until July 2014 to overturn them.

The Coalition will need the support of six of the eight independents to pass laws opposed by Labor and the Greens.

Representatives of Family First, Palmer United, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Labour Party all said the Coalition’s parental scheme, which will pay some working mothers $75,000 but leave stay-at-home mothers on the minimum wage, lacked fairness.

Family First’s Bob Day said: ”All mothers should be treated equally. There’s got to be some equity and equal pay when they are all doing the same job of caring for a baby.”

David Leyonhjelm, representing the little-known Liberal Democratic Party in NSW, told the ABC: ”We don’t think people who don’t have children should be paying for people who do have children. So we would oppose [paid parental leave].”

Nick Xenophon opposes the Coalition plan because it doesn’t address the wider issue of childcare costs. Mr Abbott’s scheme covers the first six months of a child’s life.

Clive Palmer, whose party will field a minimum two senators – Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie – said all new parents should receive a flat-rate $25,000 for six months no matter what their line of work.

”If this is a benefit given by the government, it must be given fairly and equally to all Australians by virtue of their citizenship,” he said.

Paid parental leave is not slated to begin until 2015 and is not expected to be part of the first pieces of legislation brought to Parliament.

The Greens support a paid parental leave scheme but Coalition Senate leader Eric Abetz said it was too early to speculate on any deals in the Senate.

”We believe we have a mandate on this issue. Labor campaigned heavily against it and the Australian people were well aware of the policy when they changed the government,” he said.

A Senate source said: ”Abbott will not want to be seen to be doing deals with the Greens but they are the only ones at all supportive of paid parental leave.”

Mr Abbott said: ”The people voted for change and change they will get and I’m determined to ensure that the Parliament delivers them the change that they want.”

Mr Abbott faces the reverse situation on the carbon tax and mining tax, with the Greens determined to thwart his plans but the mainly right-leaning independents pledging support.

Mr Day a climate change sceptic, said he ”taught the Liberals a thing or two” on getting rid of the carbon tax.

Wayne Dropulich, from the Australian Sports Party, said he would need time to consider any issues outside of promoting grass roots sport. Ricky Muir, representing the Motoring Enthusiasts Party, did not return calls.

Mr Palmer, a miner, said: ”Certainly we’ll support the repeal of the mining tax.”The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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