Clive Palmer will demand that households benefit from Tony Abbott's move to repeal the carbon tax, while the government's plans to scrap the renewable energy target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation have been thrown into doubt.
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Al Gore praises Palmer's 'significant' climate policy
Clive Palmer will move to introduce an emissions trading scheme, winning praise from former US Vice President Al Gore.
Mr Palmer was joined by former US vice-president Al Gore in Parliament House's Great Hall on Wednesday as he announced his party's position on a suite of climate change mitigation measures.
Mr Palmer has declared his vote to repeal the carbon tax will be contingent upon the government mandating that all savings from lower energy costs are passed on to households.
His long-awaited declaration on climate policy clears the way for Mr Abbott's signature carbon tax abolition, but throws into doubt other aspects of the Coalition's climate policies.
In a blow to the Abbott government, Mr Palmer said his Palmer United Party would use its decisive four votes in the Senate to block the proposed abolition of the money-making CEFC and would also move to legislate an emissions trading scheme with a starting price of zero dollars.
It will also demand the current 20 per cent renewable energy target – which some in the Coalition are urging the government to scrap – remains in place.
Mr Palmer said his discussions with Mr Gore had helped him reconsider the "important issues facing Australians and the rest of the world".
The PUP leader said the government's Direct Action policy was "a waste of money, at a time when families, pensioners, young Australians, stay at home mums and single parents and indigenous communities are facing unfair measures in the budget, to increase excise and indexation is not the answer".
Climate change was a global problem, he said, and Australia had to play its part.
He said the Palmer United senators would move, while supporting the repeal of the carbon tax, to establish an emissions trading scheme.
The scheme would only come into effect when Australia's major trading partners established similar schemes.
"This measure cannot be defined as a financial measure, it will have a carbon price [of] zero,'' he said.
A price on carbon would then be introduced down the track.
Mr Gore said Mr Palmer's announcement was an "extraordinary moment in which Australia, the US and the rest of the world is finally beginning to confront the climate crisis in a meaningful way".
He cited President Barack Obama's recent moves to reduce emissions in the US and pilot programs of cap and trade schemes in China as evidence the world was moving to tackle climate change.
"All of these developments add up to the world moving to solve the climate crisis and that is why it is so significant that Clive Palmer has announced that his party will support the continuation of the renewable energy target, and the continuation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation," he said.
"While I will be disappointed if the immediate price on carbon is removed because it is a policy which I believe to be ultimately critical to solving the climate crisis, I am extremely hopeful that Australia will continue to play a global leadership role on this most pressing issue."
The event comes ahead of Mr Palmer's meeting with the Prime Minister on Thursday morning.
Crossbench senators examine renewable energy measures
PUP ally Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan and the South Australian independent Nick Xenophon are looking closely at the merits of renewable energy.
Senator Xenophon stated his support for the CEFC in a speech in the Senate last week.
The only votes the government can rely on to kill the CEFC are those of NSW senator-elect David Leyonhjelm and Bob Day of Family First.
Mr Muir, who will vote against the carbon tax, is said to be "very interested in issues around renewable energy".
Glenn Druery, an adviser to Mr Muir, said the Victorian senator-elect would make no final decisions until after a briefing with government next week.
"In my opinion, Ricky's vote may not be crucial on the carbon tax but he is leaning towards voting against it," he said.
"It is likely his vote will be important on certain aspects of the clean energy package like the Clean Energy Finance Corp," he said.
Coalition prepares for protracted negotiations
The government is preparing for protracted negotiations, warning the new crossbench senators on Tuesday that they may be kept in Canberra until the government gets the result it wants.
Coalition leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz, has written to senators-elect flagging that the fortnight of sitting days from July 7 could be expanded to deal with its most important package of bills.
"I flag to you that to ensure passage of this legislation, the government may move to sit on additional days," the letter from Senator Abetz states.
One incoming senator said: "The message seems to be that we will keep you voting until you get it right."
The government has already injected an extra fortnight into Parliament's sitting schedule so that it can deal with Mr Abbott's "pledge in blood" to axe the carbon tax.
The government gagged debate on the carbon tax repeal bills in order to rush them through the House of Representatives and have them ready to be considered by the Senate from July 7.
Incoming senators, who cannot pay staff until July 1, will also have to deliver inaugural speeches as well as understand the repeal legislation.
Senator Xenophon said it was an unreasonable time frame for such an important vote and it was his preference to delay.
NSW senator-elect David Leyonhjelm, of the Liberal Democratic Party, said he was ready to vote to end both taxes.
"The carbon tax and the mining tax I feel comfortable about dealing with," he said.
Bob Day of Family First, representing South Australia, has pledged to vote with Mr Leyonhjelm on economic issues such as the tax repeal.
Senator Abetz said: “Private correspondence between myself and other senators will remain private. The normal practice is that the agenda in the Senate is set by the government.”
As recently as June 11, Mr Palmer said his Senate team would support repealing the carbon tax if energy companies are required by law to pass the savings on to customers.
Mr Palmer is seeking a guarantee from the Abbott government that the carbon tax repeal bill ensures the full savings power companies receive under a repeal are handed on to everyday Australians.
“For too long pensioners, single mums and so many others doing it tough in our communities have struggled just to cover the basic costs in life,” he said.
“If the Palmer United Party senators are to support a repeal of the carbon tax it will be under the proviso that the savings, by law, are transferred into lower energy costs for everyday Australians."