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- The Pulse Live blog with Judith Ireland
The much-hyped carbon tax just won't go away and Tony Abbott, who owes his prime ministership to the very existence of such a thing under Julia Gillard, is growing positively lyrical about the fact it's still a handy port in a storm.
"This," he bawled at Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday, "is the Leader of the Opposition who said before the election that he wanted to terminate the carbon tax.
"Well, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, be the terminator.
"Be the terminator. Don't be the vacillator, don't be the procrastinator, don't be the fabricator. Be the terminator and get rid of this toxic tax this week."
Given that the chance of the carbon tax going up in smoke this week is approximately the same as the Abbott budget's popularity figures rising much above the winter chill, the PM was doing little but replacing his old three-word slogans with a mouthful of impressively polysyllabic words.
Newish prime ministers like to do that, partly because their office budgets run to well-paid speechwriters. Besides, longer words help to fill the time.
And they drive opposition members mad. Indeed, Madam Speaker Bronwyn Bishop (below) terminated during question time an impressive seven Labor MPs who couldn't contain their frenzy at Abbott and his ministers' enthusiasm for goading them. This week, in truth, is not much more than a time-filler, despite the big words. The serious business awaits the new huddle of senators through the doors of the great house on the hill after July 1.
The worthies of the Palmer United Party, the Liberal Democrats, Family First and, the Lord help us all, the Motoring Enthusiast Party, will suddenly have thrust upon them the responsibility to decide the fate of all sorts of high policy.
It will be they and not Bill Shorten – who doesn't have the numbers to decide much at all – who will have the power to vacillate, procrastinate, fabricate and terminate.
Already a dreadful threat awaits: if they procrastinate about terminating the carbon tax, Abbott's man in the Senate, Eric Abetz, has warned he might keep them sitting until they come to their senses.
Meanwhile, the Greens, who have become accustomed to the luxury of holding the balance of power in the Senate, are noticeably unhappy about losing their exalted position.
How else to explain their decision, just days from losing their balance of power, to terminate the government's proposal to increase the excise on fuel?
Having made it an article of Greens faith to reduce carbon emissions in any way possible, here was an opportunity to support an initiative calculated to reduce more pollution than all the other Direct Action gobbledegook promised by Abbott put together. But no. Leader Christine Milne complained the money from the excise would go to roads.
The Motoring Enthusiast Party might have told her that better roads cause cars to move more efficiently. Or maybe that's a fabrication. This week, words are cheap.