Will the Green’s Christine Milne Do a Nick Clegg, Ally with Tony Abbott and Become Australia’s Deputy PM?

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 20, 2013 2:10 PM EST

The breaking of the Labor-Green Party coalition on Tuesday did not surprise political observers in Australia. After all, politicians follow the most important rule in the business, that is - In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interest.

What pundits would observe is Greens leader Christine Milne's next moves given that the country's election is just a few months away. They are asking if Ms Milne would do a Nick Clegg and be a kingmaker, while at the same time profiting from cleverly crafted political strategies.

Mr Clegg is the deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom and head of the Liberal Democrat party in Britain. In the 2010 national election, the votes were almost split between the Labour Party headed by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Conservative Party led by David Cameron.

He played kingmaker, sided with Mr Cameron, and as his reward was given the plum post of deputy prime minister.

The question is could Ms Milne pull the same trick? Does she have enough power to be the third major political party in Australia.

In the 2010 Britain election, the Conservatives got 306 seats, Labour 258 seats and the Liberal Democrats 57 seats.

In the same year in Australia, the Greens got 1 seat in the Lower House but clinched 9 in the Senate or 13 per cent of the more than 1.6 million votes which was a first for any Australian minor party.

Ms Milne phoned Labor leader and Prime Minister Julia Gillard at lunchtime on Tuesday to say their political union has ended. Then she held a press conference in Canberra to announce the decision. She blamed Ms Gillard's failure to honour written commitments on transparency, national interest and action on climate change for the political divorce.

Labor hit the Greens for placing fringe policies ahead of jobs and economic growth.

However, is it really a divorce or just a temporary separation? That question is being posed because Ms Milne said the party would continue to guarantee supply and confidence to Labor.

"It's in place on paper, yes, but our signatures are on it and that means something. Whenever I have signed an agreement to give a government confidence and supply, the can rely on the Greens' word," Sky News quoted Ms Milne.

The reply prompted Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to comment, "I don't see any particular significance other than Senator Milne's trying to do a little bit of product differentiation."

Ms Milne opted to honour her party's commitment to Labor because she does not want to make it easy for Opposition leader Tony Abbott to gain more political power and the prime ministership.

However, the deputy prime minister's post could be entirely a different story, political pundits said.

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