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Coalition can't unwind NBN, carbon price: independents
01/03/2012 - Two key independent MPs say there's little chance a future coalition government will be able to unwind major policies such as carbon pricing and the national broadband network (NBN). Paul Osborne
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NSW MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who have an agreement to support the Labor minority government, used a National Press Club address on Wednesday to give a report card on the past 12 months in federal politics and their future priorities.
Both independent MPs have been crucial to getting carbon pricing and NBN-related bills through parliament.
Windsor said both policies were important for country Australia and the "divide, divide, divide" tactics of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would soon start to disenchant voters.
"The longer the parliament goes, the less likely it is that some of these things will get unwound, particularly the NBN, but also some of the climate change issues as well," Windsor said.
"(And) I think people will get sick of this divide, divide, divide, just because it's a good way to run an opposition in a hung parliament."
Both Windsor and Oakeshott said the complexity of unwinding the two policies made it all the more likely Malcolm Turnbull would return to the leadership of the coalition in the future.
Turnbull was dumped in December 2009 after trying to negotiate with former prime minister Kevin Rudd to secure an emissions trading scheme, and the frontbencher is keen to have a national broadband scheme in place but at a lower cost than the government's NBN.
Of the issues to come during the next 18 months, Windsor said improving the science and approval processes behind coal seam gas development and finding a balance between mining and agriculture was a "do-or-die" issue for him.
Windsor said he was confident that a Murray-Darling Basin plan which was true to former Liberal prime minister John Howard's original "vision" could be regulated by the end of the year.
"It will be a great credit to the parliament if we do that," he said.
But he feared education reforms out of the recent Gonski review could fall by the wayside, and wanted to see more effort put into rural health services.
Windsor said the government also needed to tackle the way the mining boom was "hollowing out" other sections of the economy and the impact on regional towns by fly-in fly-out work processes.
Oakeshott said his priorities would be creating jobs in his seat of Lyne, improving health and education spending and getting results from the new food, soil and water sub-committee of cabinet which met for the first time on Wednesday.
Having faced a relentless campaign against him by The Nationals since the election, Oakeshott said he would "continue to ignore the insults and get results".
Oakeshott said that in his first meeting with Julia Gillard since Monday's Labor leadership ballot against Rudd, the prime minister had appeared like a "weight was off her shoulders".
Windsor said he believed Rudd, who is now a backbencher, would "probably retire hurt".
He also revealed that during the post-election negotiations on minority government in 2010 he had put to a meeting between Abbott and frontbenchers Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb the option of a fresh election.
"I remember Joe saying: `For Christ's sake, don't do that. Pick one ... but don't have a fresh election.'," Windsor said.
"Now ... (they) want a fresh election. People should actually concentrate on the parliament they are elected into not the one they would like to be elected into next time."
dave d | 1/03/2012 09:38 1
Well you won't have to worry about being elected into the next one Windsor- You and your kind have killed off any chances of Independants getting votes at the next election -If you are going to be "Independent" you have to grow some "b*lls first.
Toscamaster | 1/03/2012 09:47 2
"Windsor and Oakeshott said the complexity of unwinding the two policies made it all the more likely Malcolm Turnbull would return to the leadership of the coalition in the future" Messrs Windsor and Oakeshott cannot be serious. Privately ask any coalition MP whether Turnbull, even with his public popularity, could resume leadership and they will tell you that his "my way or the highway" leadership style, very reminiscent of Mr Rudd's, will never allow that to happen. Media have conveniently forgotten Mr Abbott's extraordinary electioneering skills and energy.
Allison M | 1/03/2012 10:46 3
Rob Oakeshott as usual can't put two intelligent words together. No one listens or cares about what Oakeshott has to say. His vote was bought by labour in the last election, he doesn't care about what's best for 'Country Australia' or he would have backed the coalition in the last election instead of a minority government that lives and breaths "divide, divide, divide" within their own party. The next election can't come quick enough for me, I've had labour up to here.
Jim H | 2/03/2012 05:52 4
What are you people on? Get of it and get on with life. I grew up in an Australia that got on with life and worked hard and played hard. We all critised those who constantly winged. And that is exactly how you people sound now. Winge, Winge, Winge, Winge and Winge. Show some respect and get on with it!
dave d | 2/03/2012 16:25 5
Jim H - One gathers that you are retirement age or very close to it - comfortable super - grew up in the days when small businesses - cornershops etc. were around - no giant monopolies - guy who worked hard got on and prospered ? Well some people are not in that fortunate position - they battle hard and get nowhere - lose their businesses - or earn a decent wage and continually get hit with "flow on Taxes"& are better off on the dole - spend half their wages filling up the family car - people like you who say and do nothing about this present situation (in case you are branded a whinger)have contributed to this situation . So before criticising -others that do question the status quo have a good look in the mirror and see if you're one of those people.
Graeme | 2/03/2012 16:36 6
The great thing about Australia Jim H is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Perhaps you could show a little respect to those who wish to have their sa on important issues that affect their lives.
Graeme | 3/03/2012 16:41 7
I agree with you 100% dave d and being a small business owner for the past 10 years, I have never seen our economy in such bad shape. This dysfunctional government is killing-off the spirit of this Nation that made it the best country in the world. The constant intervention into our lives, their failed policies, wasted taxes and our growing national debt, as well as their ego-driven, self-centered attitudes toward the voters, will see this Government remembered as the worst since Federation. Jim H... call me a whinger if you like but, I can't wait to see the back of these incompetent fools that are running our Country into the ground.
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