The Senate has extended its hours to try to pass the Abbott government’s carbon tax repeal – whether that takes hours, days or a weekend or two.
The government kept senators in the upper house late into the evening on Tuesday as it debated the carbon tax repeal, and could keep the chamber open much longer if it doesn’t get its way.
Senators will need to remain in Canberra every single day until the carbon tax is repealed and other bills considered, with extended sitting hours on Thursday and “each calendar day” after that.
The repeal legislation was delayed by last-minute backroom talks between the government and key crossbench senators, but eventually got underway in the upper house.
Earlier, senior government figures said anyone who believed the tax would be repealed on Tuesday held a false impression.
The debate was listed on the Senate’s order of business on Tuesday after the bills passed the lower house on Monday evening.
Manager of government business Mitch Fifield held meetings with party leaders, whips and crossbench officials on Tuesday.
Among the priority bills are the Qantas Sale Amendment Bill and the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (Abolition) Bill.
The government was endeavouring to work co-operatively with “colleagues in this place” as far as possible to reach agreement on how the repeal bills were dealt with, Senator Fifield told parliament.
Those discussions also involved “some other important pieces of legislation”.
Government leader in the lower house Christopher Pyne held talks with Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer just before question time.
The government focused on the carbon tax during question time in the lower house.
Treasurer Joe Hockey noted Wednesday was the first anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s announcement that Labor would terminate the carbon tax if re-elected.
Mr Hockey said Labor was now preventing the government from abolishing the tax and would still be defending it at the time of the next election.
“The carbon tax and the Labor party are one and the same,” he said.
Labor has called on the government to replace the fixed carbon price with a floating price or emissions trading scheme.
The carbon tax is expected to be repealed with the support of the three Palmer United Party senators, Victoria’s Ricky Muir and at least two of four other crossbenchers who campaigned against it.