Motoring Enthusiast Party senator-elect Ricky Muir has reaffirmed his unity with the Palmer United Party, as Clive Palmer prepares tomorrow to spell out his stands and demands on the government’s carbon and mining tax repeal legislation.
Muir’s comments came after his adviser, Glenn Druery, has said he could peel off on some votes and the government has flagged hopes of dealing separately with him and other crossbench senators on issues.
In a statement put out through Palmer’s media adviser, Muir said: “Whilst we are prepared to talk with everyone in the government for a best-possible outcome for the motoring community, this shouldn’t be construed as a lack of solidarity with the PUP”.
He said there might be times when the two parties’ values conflicted and they took different stances, but “I imagine it would be a rare exception where our values would conflict. We stand united”.
PUP will have three senators from July 1, which gives Palmer power to stymie bills. The government needs six of eight crossbenchers to pass legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens. The alliance Palmer has forged between PUP and Muir provides him with added clout but also insurance in the event of any of his senators straying.
Druery said tonight that whatever Palmer announced did not mean Muir would necessarily vote that way – although in general he would vote “most of the time” with PUP. “It’s not a gilt-edged guarantee,” said Druery.
Muir may support the retention of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which the government wants to abolish as part of repealing the carbon tax.
The secretary of the Motoring Enthusiast Party, Keith Littler, said the initiative for the statement came from him, not from PUP. There had been speculation in the media about how Muir would vote and he wanted to reaffirm that the Motoring Enthusiast Party was both united with PUP and independent.
With the government scheduling a fortnight of Senate sittings from July 7 to deal with the repeals, government Senate leader Eric Abetz has written to senators warning it may move for the Senate to sit extra days if needed.
Prompt consideration of these two “fundamental packages” was important to the revenue, Abetz said in the letter.
The government is predicting it will get the repeal bills through during this first sitting of the new Senate.
The government received fresh blow today to a budget already set to have gaping holes when the Greens announced they would oppose the move to bring back indexation of petrol excise, worth $2.2 billion over the forward estimates.
Labor said that it would oppose $11.4 billion worth of measures out of a total of about $15 billion savings in social services bills containing sweeping crackdowns in welfare payments, pensions and family benefits. After applying the gag, the government rushed the legislation through the House of Representatives tonight so it will be ready for the new Senate.
Shadow minister for families Jenny Macklin told Parliament: “These Bills contain around 30 budget measures, including some of the cruelest attacks on basic fairness that the Australian Parliament has ever seen – cuts to the pension, cuts to low and middle income families, and forcing our young people to live for six months at a time without any support at all.”
In a number of areas where changes were due to start on July 1 current arrangements will continue for the time being because - quite apart from their eventual fate - the measures won’t have been dealt with by the deadline.
Palmer will meet his incoming senators tomorrow before his news conference. He told the ABC: “Wednesday night we’ll have an announcement to make on what we think is a solution for Australia and the world.” He is due to meet Tony Abbott on Thursday.