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Abbott faces new threat to carbon tax repeal bill

Date

Heath Aston Federal Politics

Family First Senator Bob Day and LDP Senator David Leyonhjelm.

Family First Senator Bob Day and LDP Senator David Leyonhjelm. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Tony Abbott faces a fresh threat to the abolition of the carbon tax, with two key crossbenchers warning that if the government continues to pander to Clive Palmer it risks losing their support.

NSW senator David Leyonhjelm and South Australia's Bob Day issued the stern warning on Saturday, saying they were concerned that ''severe compliance'' obligations placed on business by Palmer United Party amendments to the carbon tax repeal bills could be ''worse than the tax itself''.

Senator Leyonhjelm told The Sunday Age: ''We are signalling to the government they don't have a blank cheque with us. If you give too much ground to PUP you might lose us. We want to see the carbon tax removed, but not at the price of some big brother obligation that makes life difficult for industry.''

Amid chaotic scenes in the Senate last week, as the government tried and failed to deliver the long-promised repeal, Coalition Senate leader Eric Abetz was able to count on the votes of Senator Leyonhjelm, who represents the anti-tax Liberal Democrats and Senator Day of the socially conservative and economic dry Family First.

But Senator Leyonhjelm said the government should not count on their votes, especially while there is still confusion over what the latest PUP amendment means for business. ''We're out of the loop and we don't like it,'' he said.

Business, led by the Australian Industry Group and the Business Council of Australia, have complained about ''yellow tape'' being introduced by PUP.

Those groups were seeking assurances from the government over the weekend that fines and penalties on energy suppliers proposed by PUP would not extend to other businesses that will benefit from the carbon tax repeal.

Senator Day said under PUP's ''confusing requirements'' that appear to have been accepted by the government, energy suppliers could face fines of $85,000 for not submitting paperwork like a ''carbon tax removal substantiation notice'' on time. "Power companies will simply pass these hefty fines for non-compliance onto consumers," he said.

To hold up the carbon tax repeal for a third time, senators Leyonhjelm and Day would need the support of Nick Xenophon or John Madigan. Senator Xenophon told Fairfax Media he did not share their concerns over compliance and Senator Madigan could not be reached.

In a speech to the Liberal National Party in Brisbane, Mr Abbott indicated his confidence that the Senate would deliver the repeal as soon as Monday, saying, ''We know that Mr Palmer will change his mind come Monday.''

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