The following piece was published 10 October 2013, SBS World News Australia Radio.
By Ildi Amon
The Palmer United Party's power in the Senate looks set to increase thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party.
The deal will see the Motoring Enthusiast Senator-elect Ricky Muir join forces with two confirmed PUP Senators from next July, and a possibly a third.
Palmer United Party leader and mining magnate Clive Palmer is already trying to use the newly-established voting bloc to extract concessions from the Abbott government.
He's raised the prospect of delaying legislation until the group receives the same level of resources as the Australian Greens.
Mr Palmer says Liberal Senate leader Eric Abetz will have to be prepared to negotiate with the voting block if he wants to pass Government legislation.
"If Senator Abetz says he, Erica is it? If Erica says he wants to negotiate individually with people well he'll have to negotiate with out team or he won't be negotiating at all. It'll be a very, very, very, very cold winter but we hope we can bring that into a nice prosperous summer for the government and the people of Australia."
From the first of July next year the Abbott government will have to negotiate with eight crossbench Senators and secure the support of up to six of them to pass legislation.
The Memorandum of Understanding means four of the eight could be working together - with Ricky Muir joining the Palmer party's Glenn Lazarus, Jacqui Lambie and possibly Dio Wang.
The Australian Electoral Commission's decision to recount West Australian Senate votes means Mr Wang's position remains uncertain.
Mr Muir says the Palmer party has agreed to endorse the stated priorities of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party - including enhanced driver education, improved vehicle maintenance and a decentralised health system.
He says that means he can still support his party's platform, and through the alliance increase his influence and bring stability to the Senate.
"We shall work with the Palmer United Party to ensure the smooth operation of parliament and the orderly operation of the Senate. Together I can do so much more than I could have achieved alone."
The Palmer United Party's major policies include abolishing the carbon tax, increasing the aged pension, creating mineral wealth and allowing asylum seekers to fly to Australia and be processed at airports
But Clive Palmer says the alliance won't be voting along ideological lines.
Instead, he says it will be assessing each piece of legislation on its own merits.
Professor of politics at the Australian National University, John Wanna, says it's possible the Senate will be more predictable.
But he says the bloc is likely to use its leverage to get some of its own policies passed into law.
"Some of those may be impractical but the broader issue is they're making different statements from the other major parties and some of the cross benchers will want some of those statements given effect so that will give them some leverage in terms of what they would like to see out of public policy. Even if the way they express things may be a little bit impractical there's people who can advise them."
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he won't be providing any extra resources for the alliance to consider the Coalition's policies
Mr Abbott says there won't be any exceptions to the rules on entitlements for minor parties and independents.
What they will get, he says, is respect.
"Particularly after the difficulties of the last parliament I think the public want to see a much more constructive parliament this time. I'm going to be working as constructively as I can with everyone in the parliament. My view is I will treat everyone in the parliament with courtesy and respect, including minor party and independent members of parliament."
The other four cross-bench Senators from July next year will be Family First's Bob Day, the Democratic Labor Party's John Madigan, the Liberal Democratic Party's David Leyonhjelm and independent Senator Nick Xenophon.
Senator Xenophon says he's not too worried about the voting bloc diluting his power in the Senate.
"If Clive Palmer thinks that dealing with the Senate is the same as doing a mining deal with a Chinese company for instance then it's not quite the same. There's a level of scrutiny and accountability and transparency that's require and that's why I think it's very important that any suggestion that Clive Palmer will somehow squeeze out myself and Senator John Madigan from Victoria for instance, it just won't work like that because there are just too many issues of importance."
The Australian Greens are much more concerned about the alliance's rising influence.
The Greens are set to lose the balance of power in July.
Leader Christine Milne says the new Senate will be unstable and lack transparency.
"I hardly think Clive Palmer trying to blackmail Tony Abbott by saying that he'll only pass one bill a year unless he gets what he wants in terms of resources and stability. The key question here is what backroom deal did the Motor Enthusiast Party enter into to go into this cabal with Clive Palmer? And what are those policies that Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott will agree to support and under what conditions?"
A recount is currently taking place in Clive Palmer's Queensland seat of Fairfax after he won the House of Representatives spot by just seven votes.