Clive Palmer blocks carbon tax repeal bill

Vote on the carbon tax repeal. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Vote on the carbon tax repeal. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Carbon tax repeal voted down: Palmer senators have joined Labor, the Greens, and Ricky Muir to vote down carbon tax repeal legislation. SMH

The Abbott government has lost a vote to repeal the carbon tax after failing to convince the Palmer United Party that power price cuts will be properly passed on.

The government, which was poised to trumpet the end of the tax on Thursday, is now set to bring the bills back to the lower house on Monday after further talks with PUP.

It also has another double-dissolution trigger.

The three PUP senators sided with Labor, the Greens and Victorian senator Ricky Muir to vote down the repeal bills.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott had earlier agreed with PUP leader Clive Palmer to support measures to ensure electricity and gas price cuts are passed on to consumers and businesses.

But Mr Palmer revealed on Thursday morning he had further changes to his own party’s amendment, which would impose higher penalties on entities that did not pass on the savings within a reasonable time.

The changes would have applied penalties to ‘‘any party or entity which can or does buy or sell electricity or gas’’, rather than simply Australian corporations.

Mr Palmer initially told reporters the government had reacted ‘‘violently’’ to his new changes.But he later said the government had agreed with the changes, but told him they ‘‘couldn’t put them in the Senate’’ on Thursday.

‘‘So I said the solution is to just take back the bill to the House and put it in the House and bring it back next Tuesday,’’ he said.

‘‘I made it very clear that there had to be a mandatory requirement to pass this on, not a general one.’’

The Senate heard that the updated amendments had not been circulated on time and could not be put to a vote without special leave.PUP Senate Leader Glenn Lazarus declined to seek leave, saying the amendment had been ‘‘circulated in a form I do not approve’’.

The government had moved to fast-track the debate on the bills on Thursday morning, setting an 11.50am deadline for a vote, but instead ended up filibustering as it negotiated with Mr Palmer.

‘‘It certainly takes a special blend of arrogance and incompetence to seek both to guillotine and filibuster in the same debate,’’ Labor Senate leader Penny Wong told parliament.

She said Mr Palmer’s party had been ‘‘sold a PUP’’ by the government.Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government remained committed to axing the carbon tax and passing on savings averaging $550 a year to consumers.

‘‘The overarching concern of this government is for us to deliver on our clear commitment at the election,’’ he said.Greens leader Christine Milne said the Senate had been treated with contempt.


For repeal: 

  • Coalition (31)
  • Family First’s Bob Day
  •  Liberal Democratic Party’s David Leyonhjelm
  • Independent Nick Xenophon
  •  Democratic Labour Party’s John Madigan

Total — 35

Against repeal:

  • Labor (23)
  • The Australian Greens (10)
  • Palmer United Party (3)
  • Australia Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir

Total — 37



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