Mining magnate Clive Palmer’s political party looks set to hold the balance of power when the new Senate takes shape next July.
The coalition will have 33 senators but needs six more votes to pass legislation.
Labor with 26 seats and the Greens with nine – possibly 10 after a recount – are likely to vote together to oppose government plans.
Both parties oppose repealing the carbon tax, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott has at the top of his legislative priorities.
The coalition would need to seek support from the eight senators on the crossbench, including five independent/micro party senators.
They’re independent Nick Xenophon (SA), Democratic Labor Party John Madigan (Vic) and three newcomers: Liberal Democratic Party David Leyonhjelm (NSW), Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Ricky Muir (Vic) and Family First’s Bob Day (SA).
The other newcomers are Palmer United Party (PUP) senators Glenn Lazarus from Queensland, Jacqui Lambie from Tasmania and probably Zhenya Wang from Western Australia.
However senator-elect Wang is facing a partial vote recount in WA, requested by the man he seems to have ousted on preferences – Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam.
Mr Abbott will be able to count on the PUP senators, Mr Day and Senator Madigan since all have publicly opposed the carbon tax.
But Mr Abbott may have tough negotiations ahead with Senator Xenophon, Senator-elect Muir, and Senator-elect Leyonhjelm.
Senator Xenophon supports the repeal of the tax but wants it replaced by a model developed by Frontier Economics, which rewards low-emission industries and punishes high-emission polluters.
The Liberal Democratic Party’s policies state that, should evidence become compelling that global warming is due to human activity, the party would favour market-based options.
The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s stance is not clear.
Its environmental policy is to support a balanced approach towards sustainability of the environment and the use of the environment, both for the survival of mankind and for the unimpeded recreational use of the environment.
However, the party also advocates removing the need for government to waste time on the introduction of “nanny-rules” to protect ourselves from ourselves.
Mr Abbott’s signature paid parental leave scheme may pass parliament before the changeover next year, if he agrees to the Greens push for a $50,000 payout cap.