Clive Palmer has arrived at parliament house for his meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott after his shock climate change policy announcement.
The eccentric crossbench MP on Wednesday set out his conditions for supporting Mr Abbott’s bid to axe the carbon tax – flanked by former US vice president and climate campaigner Al Gore.
Arriving at parliament house on Thursday, Mr Palmer said he was looking forward to the meeting.
“I’m always looking forward to breakfast, it gets you going,” he told reporters.
“I think the prime minister and I have both got important duties to undertake.
“He said he’s respectful to other members of the House of Representatives and I’ve got no reason to think he wouldn’t be.
“It’s important we don’t get carried away with our individual agendas, that we do what’s best for the community.”
Mr Palmer says his Palmer United Party Senate team will back the repeal of the tax only if legal guarantees are in place to ensure energy companies pass on savings to consumers.
He also wants a new emissions trading scheme drafted with a zero-dollar starting price, plus the retention of key climate bodies.
The PUP will oppose the abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority, and allow the renewable energy target to continue until at least 2016.
Mr Palmer says his meeting with Mr Abbott will be his first in several years.
He says he wants to listen to what the prime minister has to say and hopes Mr Abbott listens in return.
Mr Abbott came to office promising to abolish Labor’s carbon tax and replace it with a $2.5 billion Direct Action plan, but needs the support of six of eight crossbench senators to get his plan passed.
Greens leader Christine Milne will try to convince Mr Palmer not to back the carbon repeal bills, which would also scrap the transition to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.
The multi-billionaire abstained on the carbon tax vote in the lower house because of his mining interests, and she said the Palmer United Party senators should do the same.
Asked what chance she had of changing the Palmer United Party leader’s mind, Senator Milne said: “Last week, he wasn’t very sure that climate change was real.
“This week he’s saving the Renewable Energy Target, the (Clean Energy Finance Corporation) – I couldn’t have predicted that last week,” she told ABC radio.
“I think it would be foolhardy to predict what might happen next week, and that’s why I will continue to argue that we keep the scheme we have got because it is working.”
Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox questioned Mr Palmer’s demand that all electricity savings from the carbon repeal be passed onto consumers.
“Consumers have already been compensated and businesses have already absorbed most of the cost of the carbon tax, so to ask business to do more would be very difficult,” Mr Willox told ABC radio.
Labor has described Mr Palmer’s announcement will Mr Gore as a stunt, and says its will not back repeal of the carbon tax without a credible emissions trading scheme.
“We welcome Mr Palmer’s support for our renewable energy policies, we just now say he should reflect on Labor’s fair dinkum ETS and talk to his senators about voting that way in the Senate,” opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler told reporters.
Labor’s finance spokesman Tony Burke raised concerns about introducing an ETS with a zero-dollar price.
“How do you actually have a limit and trading system with a zero value?” he asked on Sky News.
“I don’t think anyone quite understands what that in fact means.”
Independent Nick Xenophon said Mr Palmer’s opposition to Direct Action, and his support for the carbon tax repeal, is the “worst of both worlds”.
Senator Xenophon has been working on amendments to Direct Action, saying the policy could work with enough alterations.
Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen said Mr Palmer and Mr Gore were strange bedfellows.
Dr Jensen said Mr Palmer should seek advice on climate change elsewhere.
“I would only take advice from Al Gore if (he) started living the carbon dioxide-restrained lifestyle that he’s advocating for everyone else,” he told reporters.
He also speculated about whether Mr Palmer had paid Mr Gore for the appearance.
“It seems Al Gore will go anywhere the dollars go.”
Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson’s described the announcement as an “inconvenient truth” for Mr Abbott.