Clive Palmer’s decision to back the federal government’s repeal of the carbon tax is not conditional on a promised $550 saving on the average household power bill.
The Palmer United Party (PUP) leader on Monday confirmed his three senators would side with the government to repeal Labor’s carbon tax and said he hoped this would be achieved during this week’s sitting of the new Senate.
Mr Palmer told the National Press Club his party’s support was given after the coalition government agreed to an amendment to ensure power company savings were passed on to businesses and households.
However, when asked if this meant the coalition’s promise of a $550 annual average household power bill saving would be guaranteed by law, Mr Palmer said: “$550 is Tony Abbott’s figure.”
“I expect you’ll see in the near future electricity bills going out with a reduction on them.
“That will be an instance where our party has made a difference at the critical time.”
The PUP will also support the government’s alternative Direct Action environment policy, but only if legislation is put in place to start an emissions trading scheme (ETS) should Australia’s trading partners do the same in the future.
The coalition has previously opposed an ETS, saying it’s a carbon tax under another name.
Mr Palmer also said his party wouldn’t support any government change to the renewable energy target before 2016, as this would be a broken promise by the coalition.
The mining magnate said PUP would throw its weight behind repealing the mining tax, but would insist measures funded by the impost, including the SchoolKids Bonus and support for low income earners, remained.
The government’s prospects of deregulating university fees also appears to be in doubt, with Mr Palmer flagging support for a return to fee-free courses in a bid to boost economic growth.
While he expected PUP’s measures would dig an $8 billion hole in the federal budget, but this could be made up by the government dropping its $22 billion paid parental leave scheme.
The proposed $7 GP visit co-payment outlined in the budget is also in jeopardy, after Mr Palmer told the story of four female pensioners who pooled their money to go to the movies.
“I couldn’t care if we had the biggest debt in the world,” he said.
“Those ladies are going to have their chocolate and go to the cinema.
“As simple as that, so hear that, Joe Hockey.”