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Election 2013: What we still don’t know

Myriam Robin /

After 33 days of hand-to-hand political combat, the result of the 2013 federal election is finally known.

The Coalition has won it in a landslide. They’re slated to control approximately 91 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives – more than enough to form government.

But there are plenty of things we still don’t know about how our parliament will work over the next three years. Here’s what we should keep an eye out for:

The Senate

Due to a maze of preference deals and a record number of candidates, the Senate vote is still under way.

Senate results are notoriously difficult to predict.

But at the moment, it appears that Labor and the Greens together will not have the numbers to block Coalition legislation.

The minor parties

The people they’ll have rely on to stem the flow of Coalition policies are a disparate and little-known mix of minor parties.

Clive Palmer didn’t just get himself elected to Fairfax – it looks like he has bought two senators along with him. They’ll presumably vote to get rid of the mining and carbon taxes, but how they’ll swing on other issues is relatively unknown.

However, they’re practically known qualities compared to some of the other people who look set to make it into the Senate.

In Western Australia, the Australian Sports Party looks set to win a seat. Victoria will send along a Senator from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, while New South Wales is sending along a Liberal Democratic Party acolyte.

South Australia looks set to send not one, but two independents: The runaway popularity of independent anti-pokies campaigner Nick Xenophon saw him get nearly 50% more votes than he needed to get elected. The major beneficiary of that is Family First senator Bob Day, who’s stolen the spot that most would have expected to go to Labor headkicker Don Farrell.

Signature Coalition policies – removing the carbon tax, their approach to refugees, the paid parental leave scheme – depend on the support of this rabble. It isn’t going to be easy. Who knows what compromises the Coalition will have to make to get these policies through.

The NBN

One of the key policies differences between the Coalition and the Labor party was their approach to the National Broadband Network.

The Coalition says it will rejig the plan so it’s only fibre-to-the-node, not fibre-to-the-home as had been planned by Labor.

This’ll offer slower speeds, but be quicker to roll out.

But here’s the thing. In order to prevent the Coalition undoing its work, the outgoing Labor government had already put in place the contracts to build the NBN. Telstra, along with dozens of other companies, are set to benefit from heavy compensation clauses if the Coalition decides to break their contracts when in government.

We haven’t really heard how the Coalition plans to deal with these financial and practical road-blocks left in its way by the Labor government.

The small business taxes: When do they start?

One of the ways the Coalition countered persistent criticism of its costings was by unveiling $31 billion in cost savings in the last week of the election.

Small businesses would contribute a hefty amount of this. Gone was the instant asset tax write off, and gone were the loss carry-back measures.

There was precious little detail on how this would be done – just a table of costings really – and when the Coalition unveiled its full costings last Thursday, the detail was still missing.

We don’t know when the policies will be rolled back, or whether it will be retrospective. It’s tax return time, and small businesses need to know.

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Myriam Robin

Myriam Robin is a reporter for SmartCompany and its sister site LeadingCompany. She has degrees in economics, international studies and journalism. She likes writing about businesses taking risks and doing new things.

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