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Carbon bill gets Palmer nod

Greg Hunt
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The Palmer United Party (PUP) has settled on changes to the carbon tax repeal bills and expects them to pass the Senate within days.

PUP leader Clive Palmer held talks with government figures on Monday ahead of the carbon tax repeal bills returning to the House of Representatives just after noon.

Voters ready for PM to axe the carbon tax: poll

Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants the bills to pass the lower house on Monday and have a speedy path through the Senate.

A PUP spokesman told AAP the government had agreed to change the word “may” to “will” in a section relating to electricity and gas bill cuts being passed to consumers and business.

The legislation will also specifically target electricity generators and retailers, rather than a broader range of businesses.

The amendment to impose a 250 per cent penalty on businesses that do not pass on the power bill cuts remains.
“Everyone has a renewed respect for each other,” a PUP spokesman said.

It’s now expected the bills could go back to the Senate on Monday evening and pass by Tuesday.

The agreement followed a chaotic Senate sitting on Thursday in which PUP senators sided with Labor and the Greens last week to block the repeal after Mr Palmer was not satisfied with the way his amendments were being handled.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said he was “hopeful and expectant” the tax would be gone by the end of the week but declined to make any promises.

The coalition will need six extra votes on top of its 33 senators to repeal the tax.

It will require the three PUP senators, Victorian Ricky Muir and two other crossbenchers out of Bob Day, Nick Xenophon, David Leyonhjelm and John Madigan.

Senator Madigan, an opponent of the carbon tax, said he would consider the Palmer amendments when they appeared.
“The devil is in the detail,” he said.

Senator Leyonhjelm says he’s worried Mr Palmer might change his mind on amendments again and not act in Australia’s best interest.

Senator Day was more upbeat: “Let’s hope we are at the finish line.”

Senator Muir and an adviser were spotted coming out of Labor Senate leader Penny Wong’s office on Monday morning.