Analysis

Clive Palmer.

Ringleader: Clive Palmer.

The uncomfortable truth about the unrivalled verity of election 2013 is that the promise to scrap the carbon tax is more costly than was ever explained.

And that is quite apart from whether its abolition is sound policy - which it clearly is not.

''Axe the tax, stop the boats, end the waste, repay the debt.'' It seemed pretty simple.

Ten months in and after a week of the post-Labor/Greens Senate, nearly all of this program is becoming less certain rather than more.

Even the boats policy is under a new cloud with the government forced into an embarrassing legal limbo by the High Court after getting too eager to protect its only clear policy score on the board - a six-month record of no successful arrivals on Australian shores.

Of the other three heads, the best that can be said is they are works in progress. A more accurate account is that they are stalled.

''Axing the tax'' applied to Labor's two most ''pernicious'' imposts, the carbon and mining taxes. The former worked so well it became the economy's job-killing wrecking ball and python squeeze all at once. The latter raised virtually no revenue to pay for billions in new spending justified against its projected growth.

It will go soon even if that spending will not, thanks to the new populist bent of the Senate.

As for ditching the carbon tax - which the government says will occur on Thursday - the process has been heavily compromised.

Expected savings from dismantling a complex institutional web of carbon pricing architecture have proved illusory.

Thanks to Clive Palmer's Senate trio and his on-off bloc including the surprising motoring enthusiast Ricky Muir, major pieces of that architecture will remain.

These include the so-called green bank, the Climate Change Authority, the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Even Labor's second round of carbon tax compensatory tax cuts will remain and flow from July 1, 2015.

Between those, and a raft of mining tax programs Palmer will protect such as the school kids bonus, the Low Income Superannuation Contribution, and the Income Support Bonus, the goals of ending waste and repaying debt have hardly become closer.

The dominant characteristic of the new Senate is unpredictability. Fault lines run in every direction. If the path of these clearly mandated changes is so contested, what can we expect in the case of budget nasties like the GP tax that were never even mentioned?

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