'It's not really my problem, it's Tony's'. Photo: Nick Moir
Clive Palmer insists he will hold the government's legislative agenda to ransom until he gets more staff, despite having more generous staffing allocations than the much larger Greens party.
Mr Palmer says his party is a special case, after The Sunday Age alerted him to the generosity of his personal staffing allocation - the most abundant of any party of its size in the past decade.
''It's not really my problem, it's Tony's,'' Mr Palmer said, adding that the Palmer United Party would hold up Parliament for days, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if he doesn't have enough staff to ''understand'' legislation.
''We want a team of people with the right classifications so we can recruit the experts necessary … to help us understand [legislation].''
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is giving Mr Palmer and his three senators the standard four electorate employees each, plus two extra personal staff apiece for the crossbench senators and one extra personal staffer for Mr Palmer.
That equates to a combined 23 staff, with the annual salary and allowances cost to taxpayers reaching up to $1,998,494.
The 10 Greens in Federal Parliament have just 13 personal staffers between them, compared with the more generous ratio of seven for the four PUP parliamentarians.
Mr Palmer also wants Mr Abbott to award PUP official minority party status, even though it failed to meet the minimum requirement of five MPs and senators to qualify.
''We have got five, we've got Ricky,'' Mr Palmer replied, referring to the Australian Motoring Enthusiast senator-elect Ricky Muir, who has formed a loose voting alliance with PUP.
Asked why he needed more staff than the Greens or independent senator Nick Xenophon, Mr Palmer said his team members were ''novices'', and they had the power to veto government bills, unlike the ''irrelevant'' Senator Xenophon.
''You can't imagine that a couple of senators that haven't been in the Senate before are going to read every bill,'' said Mr Palmer.