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Clive Palmer's ultimatum over staffing

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Clive's demands 'bizarre'

Australia's new political powerbroker stirs some abrupt responses after demanding more staff.

PT0M0S 620 349

Mining magnate Clive Palmer is threatening to block all the Abbott government's legislation – even measures he supports such as scrapping the carbon price – unless his party gets more staff and resources.

Personal opinion, if Ricky Muir lasts six months he will be … pretty lucky. 

After striking a deal with Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator-elect Ricky Muir to form a balance-of-power voting bloc of four seats in the Senate from next July, Mr Palmer demanded the same staffing and resources as the Greens, who currently hold the balance.

Clive Palmer and Ricky Muir

Clive Palmer and Ricky Muir Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Although the Palmer United Party and Mr Muir together have fewer than half the Senate seats held by the Greens, Mr Palmer said the balance-of-power role meant his bloc would need more staff to properly scrutinise legislation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed the demand, saying there was a standard convention on staffing and resources for minor parties and independents.

When Fairfax Media put Mr Abbott's remarks to Mr Palmer, he said: "Fine, then he won't get any legislation through. None at all."

Mr Palmer refused to show Fairfax Media the PUP's memorandum of understanding with Mr Muir.

The stand-off comes as Mr Muir – who won a Victorian Senate seat in last month's election – faces a furious backlash from his party's state branch.

Mr Muir's former campaign director, Scott McDonald, said Victorian members were angry that they had not been consulted on the deal, which he said went against the party's platform.

He expressed doubt that Mr Muir would last his full six-year term. ''Personal opinion, if he lasts six months he will be … pretty lucky.''

The leadership of the party's Victorian branch was sacked by the national body last week. Stuart Brown, founding vice-chairman of the Victorian branch, said the party was being controlled by a couple of people in Queensland.

''The Queenslanders have grabbed hold of him [Muir] and are doing what they want with him. This is absolutely a betrayal of Victoria. He is supposed to be working for Victorians,'' Mr Brown said.

With four votes once the new Senate is installed in July, the Palmer group could block Coalition legislation if Labor and the Greens also oppose it. The Coalition, with 33 senators, would need six of the eight crossbench votes.

The four outside the Palmer bloc will be current crossbenchers Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, plus incoming Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Family First's Bob Day. It is a conservative-leaning crossbench, and Mr Abbott is expected to get the numbers to scrap the carbon price and mining tax.

453 comments

  • Another example of what is wrong with the political system in Australia. Labor and the Greens (especially Gillard and Brown) has tarnished politicians with the "self interest to the detriment of the people" brush. Yet again we have minority parties holding Australia to ransom!

    Commenter
    peter
    Date and time
    October 11, 2013, 6:50AM
    • Happens everywhere unfortunately. You only have to look at the U.S. government shutdown where Ted Cruz, Mike Lee et al have effectively held the entire country to ransom in order to get their own way. Balance of power. Not always a great thing for common folk like us who get pawned.

      Commenter
      GitL
      Location
      Bris
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:04AM
    • ...weddings, ironman contests, sports events, personal libraries, flagrant disregard for public opinion over east west tunnel, no Doncaster rail....need I go on?

      Commenter
      Ummm....
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:09AM
    • I wonder if conservative commenters here will relentlessly vilify and denigrate Abbott and PUP as they did Gillard and the Greens now that they're the ones in need of minority Party support? Will this be yet another addition to their "We are opportunistic hypocrites" file?

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:12AM
    • Pffffffffft, you mean they are acting in their constituents best interests, and you as a liberal can't stand the fact that our version of democracy means the parties have to work together to pass legislation, where is your mandate now?

      Commenter
      fml
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:12AM
    • Great so now we are America and have the Tea Party nutters holding the country to ransom. I'm glad billionaires and revheads are so ovable in this country.

      Commenter
      GOV
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:14AM
    • I see. Another Coalition voter.
      The LNP would never do anything like that, would they? They wouldn't for example barter with senators with the names of, say, Harradine and Colston, to sell off an asset like, say, Telstra, would they?
      But never miss an opportunity to put the slipper into a leftie, huh?

      Commenter
      stevek
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:15AM
    • Love it! Block him please... block him all the time so he hates what he does. He is not good for Australia... with so many issues come up already geeez

      Commenter
      Meh1
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:18AM
    • @Ummm: maybe you should go on - and make a relevant point.

      Commenter
      The Other Guy
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:22AM
    • "Minor Parties" is an illusion, it comes down to actual votes. Minor parties means you get to hear a different voice, a contrary opinion, a "keep the bastards honest" effect.
      As for the USA, blocking Obama's raising of the debt ceiling is the right thing to do. Obama needs to put away the credit card, it's a clear sign his policies don't work.

      Commenter
      bg
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 8:24AM

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