New Australian government might be more stable than it looks
Despite the initial onslaught from angered Coalition members that the government - propped up by a Green and three independents - was illegitimate, defied commonsense and was even corrupt, a key point has been ignored.
The new government is a coalition of self-interest - and never bet against self-interest. For it to collapse, one of Andrew Wilkie, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott or the Greens' Adam Bandt will have to abandon it and presumably force another election.
This, one would assume, would produce a return to normal with a majority government. The four minor players would have dealt themselves back into irrelevancy.
This point has not been lost inside Labor. After all the shooting stopped last week, there was relief Bob Katter was not part of the equation. Of all the independents, he was the most unpredictable and would have been the hardest to accommodate.
The other four have their differences, but all agree in principle to a carbon tax and a profits-based tax on mining, the two most contentious policy issues on the horizon for the next three years. Katter opposes both these measures.
Nor is the point lost on the minor players. The opposition and other detractors are hoping for the Greens to blow the show up with their "extreme" policy agenda. Yet the Greens leader, Bob Brown, and his deputy, Christine Milne, are proving a lot more savvy than they have been given credit for.
When they signed the deal with Labor the week before last, it was deliberately devoid of any contentious policy ideas. Even Abbott said he would have accommodated 99 per cent of its demands.
Milne said afterwards that the Greens and Labor alone do not constitute a majority in the lower house. Everything the Greens suggest has to bear that in mind.
Last week, Brown admitted he did not push for a ministry because it would have been fuel for a Greens-Labor axis-of-evil scare campaign to exert pressure on the independents yet to make up their minds. At the same press conference, journalists tried to get Brown to say he would push for death duties, which are official Greens policy. Given neither the government nor the opposition would ever countenance such a proposal, Brown said "the answer is no".
The new arrangement, yet to be tested, has the potential to be a slow, plodding beast, but whether it collapses rests with the players, none off whom have an interest in allowing that to happen. Abbott should bear that in mind as he mulls his frontbench options this week.