Palmer will vote to preserve the schoolkids bonus

Clive Palmer will support the direct action plan if the government supports his ETS. AAP/Alan Porritt

Clive Palmer has widened the budget measures his party will oppose in the Senate to include the government’s attempt to abolish the schoolkids bonus.

Appearing at the National Press Club, Palmer also flagged his Palmer United Party (PUP) senators would support the Coalition’s “direct action” program if the government backed his emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The latest suite of budget measures Palmer said PUP will vote against is worth about A$9 billion over the budget period. The twice-yearly schoolkids bonus – associated with the mining tax which the Senate is expected to scrap with PUP support – is worth about $1.3 billion a year. Labor and the Greens will also vote to preserve it.

“Attempts by the government to destroy our way of life won’t be tolerated by our senators,” Palmer said.

PUP would also oppose the scrapping of other measures linked to the mining tax – the income support bonus and superannuation help for low income earners.

Palmer said his party would not support a reduction in the tax free threshold (associated with the carbon tax) “which will take hundreds of dollars from each of our poor Australian families”.

With the Senate today debating the repeal of the carbon tax, Palmer said he had told Environment Minister Greg Hunt that PUP’s support for the government’s direct action program “would be very much dependent upon how they dealt with an ETS [emissions trading scheme] issue and they’re going to look at that I think”.

But a spokesman for Hunt said the government “maintains its opposition to an ETS”.

Palmer has previously said PUP would oppose the direct action legislation. Part of its climate policy is an ETS that would only come into operation when Australia’s major trading partners had such schemes.

Asked to clarify the detail of his opposition to any change to the renewable energy target, Palmer indicated he was referring to the 41,000 gigawatt hours that is in the legislation. This amount, because of falling demand, is now expected to lead to about 27% of energy being renewable by 2020, rather than the 20% when the target was first envisaged.

Palmer said he did not think the PUP senators would ever break ranks and vote against each other.

Earlier he launched an extraordinary attack on Queensland premier Campbell Newman, describing him as “a Nazi”.

“He wants to use the Gestapo, you know,” he said. “Look at his popularity. He’s just below [where] Hitler was when he got elected.”

Palmer was responding to comments made by Newman about allegations in the media that he had used $12 million of Chinese funds during the federal election campaign.

Newman had said that “given the amount of information in the public domain now, I am surprised that either the WA or the Queensland police haven’t yet appeared to have initiated any sort of investigation”.

Palmer denies the allegations. Answering questions at the Press Club Palmer said the Chinese had not funded his election campaign. They had paid for port services and the funds were “no longer Chinese funds”.