No-one is certain which way the Independents will jump. But this much is clear:
â– The country Independents were leaning towards Labor for a variety of reasons including historical hatred of the Nats and the clumsy approach of Abbott to the costing of his policies;
â– Laborâ€™s very public pact with the Greens (with self-congratulatory matching lapel decorations) was very confronting for Bob Katter;
â– Katterâ€™s reaction was to make it clear what his policy priorities were (strangely free of the pork barrel demands of the kind Andrew Wilkie displayed) and to insist both sides respond to it;
â– This last-minute decision by Katter to bolshie up has wrong-footed the government, confounded the Gallery and created a big opportunity for Tony Abbott.
The Labor caucus and Liberal party room has no idea whatâ€™s going on and â€“ for now â€“ just sit in hope that their leader can find the structure of a government from three independents who have ended up slipperier than a bucket of eels.
Labor caucus members rightly worry about now being subjected to attacks on the many extremist aspects of Greens party policy, some of which we have highlighted here at VEXNEWS. They are a party whose commitment to much higher taxes through 50% income tax rates and death duties, more regulation, ideologically driven attacks on everything from zoos to private schools to cancer medicines should be enough to consign them to the non-recycling dust-bin of history. Labor will need to be very careful indeed of the electoral consequences of having any association with the Greens party.
Check out the extreme-left Greens party website at the moment with the very prominent display of the pic with Gillard and Swan. Theyâ€™re all over Labor like a nasty rash, itching for legitimacy by association with a mainstream party.
Whatever happens with Katter, it could all come back to haunt Labor, particularly if the Liberals start to align their rhetoric about the Greens with their How To Vote card preferences. Both parties need to process this basic fact and act accordingly: if youâ€™re helping the Greens party get elected with cosy preference deals or hand-outs, it makes it that bit harder to correctly criticise their policies as extremist nonsense.