* Greens poised to block conservative agenda after election
* Conservative Tony Abbott on track to win power on Sept. 7
* Greens leader, Abbott haven't spoken to each other
By James Grubel
CANBERRA, Sept 2 Australia is poised to elect a
conservative government on Saturday, but the minor Greens party
is aiming to use its deciding votes in the upper house to block
the new government's bid to throw out a carbon tax and a tax on
Greens leader Christine Milne's campaign for the Sept. 7
election has been based wholly upon a likely conservative win,
promising to "Abbott-proof" the upper house Senate and reject
his central policies.
That means Abbott's main promises, to scrap the carbon tax
and a tax on iron ore and coal mine profits, may be blocked in
parliament, particularly in the first 12 months, unless the
current Labor government abandons its position.
Adding to the cloudy political outlook is the fact Abbott,
who has led his party since December 2009, has made no secret of
his disdain for the Greens and their policies against mining and
in favour of higher taxes on the wealthy and big business.
Milne is facing her first election as leader after she
replaced long-standing Greens leader Bob Brown early in 2012.
Brown's deal with Labor's then prime minister, Julia Gillard, to
put a price on carbon was a landmark achievement for the party,
and Milne is in no mood to see it scrapped.
"There is no way I will be repealing any of the clean energy
package," Milne told Reuters.
"You'll see billions taken out of or stalled investment if
Abbott gets in. I'm not going to stand there and allow that to
Milne said she had never had a conversation with Abbott
although she had met him once at a charity ball in mid-2012.
Opinion polls show Abbott's Liberal-National Party coalition
will romp to a solid victory on Saturday, with the latest
Newspoll giving the opposition 54 percent of the two-party vote
compared with 46 percent for the ruling Labor Party.
The Greens are polling about 10 percent of the primary vote,
slightly down on the 2010 election. But only three of the
Greens' nine Senators are facing re-election, meaning even a
wipe out on Saturday would leave six Greens in the Senate.
The Senate voting system also means any Senators who lose
will not leave parliament until July 1, 2014, meaning the Greens
will control swing votes between the major parties for much of
the next year, and possibly until July 2017.
Milne also said the Greens would stand firm on the repeal of
the 30 percent tax on iron ore and coal mine profits, adding she
would seek to increase the tax to 40 percent and expand it to
other minerals, including gold.
"If he brings in a mining tax bill, we will oppose its
repeal," she said.
For his part, Abbott is banking on the Labor Party to give
him a clear run to abolish the carbon and mining taxes if he
wins, even though he has rejected all of Labor's legislation
since he became opposition leader in late 2009.
Abbott on Monday repeated that the election would be a
referendum on the carbon tax, and Labor should respect the
decision of voters. Labor is refusing to say what it will do
should it lose power.
"It's unimaginable that a defeated Labor Party would persist
with a carbon tax," Abbott told the National Press Club on
Monday. "Within a year, the carbon tax will be gone."
Milne said her party would also push for stronger scrutiny
of foreign investment and for a new government to reject the
Archer Daniels Midland $3.1 billion bid to buy grain
handler GrainCorp <GNC. AX>. The rural-based National Party also
opposes the plan.
She said the Greens also wanted to ensure Australia
continues to oppose investor-state resolution measures in a new
Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, currently under
negotiation between 12 nations of the Pacific rim.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)