Glenn Lazarus is under more pressure lining up for Queensland in the Senate than he ever was for NSW in the State of Origin.
The Palmer United Party (PUP) leader in the Senate has opened up about the difficulties he and his “very new” colleagues face as they come to terms with their balance-of-power votes.
Senator Lazarus was very confident in his ability as a footballer, but not quite yet as a politician.
“So I’d have to say playing State of Origin and playing rugby league certainly came a lot easier for me,” he told Fairfax radio in Brisbane on Monday.
“Pressure wise, I think politics would take that hands down.”
Senator Lazarus, known in NRL circles as the Brick with Eyes, was criticised last week for lifting Wikipedia content onto his website.
The subsequent negative media attention and the effect it had on his family and friends has been the hardest thing to get used to.
“I’ve had some pretty violent and huge footballers try to rip my head off,” he said.
Mr Lazarus also said it would be “political suicide” for the Government to go ahead with its threat to raise taxes if it cannot get its budget passed.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann warned that if spending cuts were blocked then “the only alternative to balance the books is to increase taxes”.
Back to battle
Parliament resumes on Tuesday after a five-week break marked by meetings between senior ministers and crossbench senators.
But the talks failed to break the Senate impasse over the Coalition’s plans to cut and change university funding, cut family payments, impose an increase to the fuel excise and a $7 fee on GP visits, X-rays and blood tests.
Senator Lazarus said the Government needed to propose “better” ways to improve the nation’s books.
“It’d be political suicide for the Abbott Government if they did try to introduce more taxes to the Australian public,” he told Fairfax Radio in Brisbane.
“I can’t see that happening.
“We’re very open to ideas and I just think the Government needs to go back into the party room and sit down with more common sense and come up with better ideas as far as budget measures are concerned.”
The PUP senator, who holds one of eight crucial crossbench seats in the Upper House, instead called for income tax cuts to stimulate the economy.
“We can keep the GST obviously and just reduce income tax,” he said.
“The people of Queensland and Australia, having more money in their pocket, would spend it more wisely and stimulate the economy.”