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Barnaby may enter into coalition with Labor

Labor leader Anthony Albanese (left) and Barnaby Joyce in Question Time in June

There are hints around the corridors of power, said to be emanating from Barnaby Joyce’s office, that the Nationals would, in certain circumstances, be prepared to support Labor to form government.

The circumstances are that Labor is the biggest party in parliament and that support from the Nationals would be conditional on Labor not entering into an arrangement with the Greens to form a Green-left government.

Barnaby Joyce has said that he is concerned about the prospect of the Greens holding the balance of power. The Greens, under Adam Bandt, have become more extreme than they were under Richard Di Natale. They are opposed to tax cuts, want an end to fossil fuel production and favour the green left agenda advanced by Senator Bernie Sanders in the United States. At the present time, they are opposed to most of the policy positions of the Labor party.

As Adam Bandt emphasised on ABC media on Monday, he wants the balance of power after the next election so that he can force progressive policies on an incoming Labor government.

It is said that Mr Joyce sees this as a threat to critical Nationals supporters such as the coal mining industry in Queensland and the Hunter Valley and animal farmers. Rather than allow the Greens to hold the balance of power, it is said that Barnaby Joyce will offer Labor the support of the Nationals to form government.

On Monday, Anthony Albanese announced the end of two Labor policies that the party had taken to two elections.

The first of these is opposition to the stage three tax cuts which have been legislated and which provide for a 30 per cent tax rate for all incomes between $40,000 and $200,000. The Greens describe these as tax cuts for billionaires or alternatively a 'tax cut for Gina Rinehart'.

The second change to tax policy is the dropping of the policy to abolish tax deductions for negative gearing and the taxation of capital gains on investment properties. The Greens are also adamantly opposed to this policy change on the basis that it will contribute to greater inequality.

If Barnaby Joyce enters into an arrangement with Labor after the next election, it will not be the first time it has occurred.

In 1921, Sir Arthur Dunstan the leader of the Country Party voted to support the Labor party as the government of Victoria, rather than the conservative Nationals. He continued this support until 1946, even though at the federal level ‘Black Jack’ McEwen had formed an alliance with the newly formed Liberal Party.

It is not clear why Joyce is making his move at this time. The outcome of the next election is still unclear as the election date is a long way off. It may be that he wants to keep as many options open as possible, on the other hand, he may just be wanting to create mischief within the Labor Party where some major players, like Chris Bowen, are attempting to pull Labor to the left on climate change.


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