The Abbott government is confident of repealing the carbon
tax next week after an assurance from Clive Palmer that
changes he wants won't apply broadly to business.
Talks between Palmer United Party staff and government
officials were progressing, a day after the party's senators
joined with Labor and the Greens to vote down the
government's carbon tax repeal.
However, PUP leader Clive Palmer was not directly involved,
he's taking a short break in New Zealand before parliament
again debates the legislation on Monday.
"The Palmer United Party is fighting for Australians to have
a fair go," Mr Palmer tweeted.
"We want lower gas/electricity prices and (are) not trying to
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday talked down the scale of
the problem facing the government on fulfilling the key
election promise to axe the tax.
"This is the kind of thing that you could expect with a new
Senate, with people coming in who don't have a lot of
parliamentary experience," Mr Abbott said, adding, again, he
was determined to scrap the tax as quickly as possible.
A government spokesman told AAP Mr Palmer had confirmed the
amendment he wants would only narrowly apply to electricity
and gas retailers, which should calm nerves in the business
Australian Industry Group chief Innis Willox feared the
changes would mean tough new penalties will not only apply to
electricity and gas companies, but also force businesses that
use a lot of refrigerants - such as abattoirs or cafes - to
justify their prices once the carbon tax is scrapped.
"It seems that good policy has got lost in the wash for what
we believe is a very ill-thought out reason and it just has
the potential to create chaos," Mr Willox said.
Peter Strong, from the Council of Small Business, told AAP
the amendment appeared to have many "unintended
PUP negotiators said their aim was to guarantee cost savings
were passed on to consumers and business quickly.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Kate
Carnell said she was optimistic the government would achieve
"But the negotiations of getting a way through are going to
be incredibly difficult," she said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott had been too
arrogant to properly negotiate with the crossbenchers.
"He thinks he's the only team on the football field," he
"He doesn't understand why those in the grandstand should
even be allowed to disagree with him."
Government Senate leader Eric Abetz expects the "technical
difficulty" with the repeal bill could be overcome when
reintroduced with amendment to the lower house on Monday.
"That should then enable the legislation to come back to the
Senate late Monday, hopefully for discussion on Tuesday, with
resolution, one would hope, Tuesday or Wednesday," he said.
"But I've been in the Senate long enough not to try to
The government needs the three PUP senators and three other
crossbench votes to repeal the tax.