MP and mining magnate Clive Palmer.

MP and mining magnate Clive Palmer. Photo: Andrew Meares

Millionaire politician Clive Palmer has switched his position on the Abbott government's plans to deregulate university fees, saying he will block the legislation just days after flagging he would support the controversial changes.

With Labor and the Greens opposed to the government's higher education agenda, the fate of any legislation will rest on the votes of Mr Palmer and his cross-bench senators.

Mr Palmer, who went to the election with a policy of abolishing university fees, stunned the university sector last week by indicating he may support the government's policy.

When asked by the ABC's Tony Jones on Wednesday whether he would oppose fee deregulation, Mr Palmer said: “I think we've got to be realistic and not oppose anything for the sake of it. We want to have a situation where we have the best universities in the world that can assist industry and stimulate the economy, creating more jobs. That may mean that we have to have some universities which are pre-eminent above others and I don't think there's - wrong for people to have a choice.”

This echoed the rhetoric of Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who has said Australian universities need to be “set free” to compete with the best in the world.

Mr Palmer was still open to the policy two days later when asked by Fairfax Media.

"We've got to see how we can have a win-win situation for Australia and for Australian students," he said.

"I do think our universities could be a great export for Australia."

Now Mr Palmer has now shifted his position and says he will not support any policy that leads to increased university fees.

“Universities should be able to charge whatever they want to international students but there should be no HECS for Australian students,” he said on Monday.

“The government should set people free so they can help the country and not need to work in boring jobs because of their debt.”

Asked about his negotiations with Mr Pyne, Mr Palmer said: “He almost convinced me on some things but now I realise what he was on about I don't agree with him.”

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