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Abbott confirms culling of carbon tax his top -

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ELEANOR HALL: First today to Canberra where after his resounding election victory, the Prime Minister-elect, Tony Abbott, is in Parliament House working out how best to deliver on his election promises and who will be in his ministry.

Mr Abbott met with the heads of the public service yesterday to confirm with them that his first priority is to abolish the carbon tax. He says he expects Opposition MPs to respect that he has a mandate and support that move but says he won't rush to reconvene Parliament.

This report from our chief political correspondent Sabra Lane.

SABRA LANE: Mr Abbott had a well-worn mantra on what he'd do if elected: abolish the carbon and mining taxes, end the waste, cut the red tape and stop the boats and turn them around where safe to do so.

The new orders to defence chiefs on that last promise won't be delivered, probably, until next week.

TONY ABBOTT: Well it begins the day the new government is sworn in. And that probably won't be until early next week because there are some formalities that need to be completed - like a Coalition agreement being formalised, party rooms to assemble once it's pretty clear who's been elected, and leadership teams to be confirmed - and once that happens then the new ministry can be finalised and sworn in.

SABRA LANE: He told Fairfax radio that people smugglers will probably try and test the Government's resolve.

TONY ABBOTT: But they will certainly find a determination more than equal to theirs.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister-elect needs to select a ministry. In Opposition he had too many front-benchers, but there is a legislative limit on how many ministers he can have - which means he needs to cut two people from his ministry.

He'll wait for the Australian Electoral Commission to finish counting in seats that are still not yet decided, like Indi in Victoria, where the Coalition's industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella is fighting to cling on.

It'll be weeks yet before the next Parliament sits.

TONY ABBOTT: It will be back towards the end of October, early November. My emphasis will be on being purposeful, methodical, calm and conscientious. And the last thing I want to do is to rush the Parliament back for a photo opportunity.

SABRA LANE: Mr Abbott says he wants substantive legislation put to Parliament when it does sit, and that it will take some time to properly draft bills like the abolition of the carbon tax.

The Coalition's climate action spokesman Greg Hunt spoke with the ABC's Jon Faine in Melbourne this morning.

GREG HUNT: We are not looking to do this after July next year. We are looking to do this as a first order of business…

JON FAINE: With a current Senate?

GREG HUNT: Correct.


GREG HUNT: We want to set out now to do what we said we would do. And the only people who stand between Australia and lower electricity and gas prices are the Labor Party.

SABRA LANE: Andrew Robb, the Coalition's finance spokesman, says the commission of audit to review the scope and scale of government will be up and running within weeks.

ANDREW ROBB: It's an immediate process. We hope to have it within two to three weeks, basically, set up and confirmed. So it is very much directed at the quality of the spend. It's a big task but it's the sort of... it's very long overdue. We did it in '96 and it proved to be immensely helpful.

SABRA LANE: The Coalition says it has a mandate to abolish the carbon tax. Many Labor frontbenchers, though, say they have a mandate too: that people who voted for them want a carbon price in place.

The current Senate makeup won't vote for it, and it's known yet if the new Senate will either. And in any case, counting has not been finalised and it will take time to know just who has been elected.

The new Senate will sit from next July, and some of micro parties that might be elected are sympathetic to abolishing the carbon tax. Again, Tony Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT: In the end, I think they all need to respect that the Government of our nation has a mandate and the Parliament should work with the government of the day to implement its mandate.

SABRA LANE: It seems the Liberal Democratic Party has won a seat in New South Wales. The Party was the first on a large ballot paper. Many political insiders say they think voters were confused by the name of the party, and thought it was the Liberal Party.

Mr Abbott says it's too early to say if the LDP has won a seat at the expense of a Liberal Senator, but that he anticipates the issue will be examined by a parliamentary committee, which always holds inquiries after elections.

TONY ABBOTT: I think this is an issue and I think it will have to be addressed.

SABRA LANE: It's still not certain if Clive Palmer has won a Lower House seat. His party may have won two senate spots. Again, Tony Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT: I think once you're in the Parliament, it's important then to earn the respect of your colleagues and let's see how every member of the Parliament does that. I probably shouldn't speculate on individual members until the vote's been finalised and the poll's been declared.

SABRA LANE: Andrew Robb says Mr Palmer's party was able to tap into voter discontent.

ANDREW ROBB: Clive has taken advantage of that; spent a serious amount of money advertising.

SABRA LANE: And he says if Mr Palmer is elected he'll be under close scrutiny.

ANDREW ROBB: Good luck to him. I mean, he'll be a character in the Parliament if he does get there. But I think he'll find it a far constraining sort of environment than he's used to, I must say.

SABRA LANE: And while Mr Palmer is supportive of the abolition of the carbon tax, he says he'll want to see the legislation for it first before making up his mind.

ELEANOR HALL: Chief political correspondent Sabra Lane.