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Palmer, Claiming Victory, Explains What Happened Last Week – Right?

The Abbott government has accepted Clive Palmer’s amendments to the carbon tax repeal legislation and Palmer has offered an explanation of last week’s events in the Senate that led to the rejection of the legislation.

PalmerPalmer says the crisis “was brought on by the government” which refuses to recognise Palmer United as a political party, “despite the fact that Palmer United received 5.6% of the national vote at the last election, while the Deputy Prime Minister’s party, the National Party, only managed 4%”.

Palmer says he formed the view that the office of the Senate Clerk “was being manipulated by the Liberal Party, or through time had assumed power it does not have to veto laws before they have been proposed by elected representative (sic) of the Australian people”.

Palmer says: “Australians must work together so that man can be as he was meant to be; free and independent.”

Following the third introduction of the carbon tax repeal legislation, Palmer spoke in the House of Representatives debate. He then held a media doorstop.

Text of a media release from Clive Palmer.

A message from Clive Palmer MP

I thought it might be helpful and in the public interest to explain the important matters that took place in and around the Australian Senate last week.

During last Wednesday night (9 July), Palmer United senators considered a draft amendment for the repeal of the carbon tax.

The draft amendment was one which the government and the Palmer United team had negotiated. Based on advice the Palmer United Senate team received on the Wednesday night the position was clear. Any saving brought about by the repeal of the carbon tax would not be mandatorily passed on to the consumers of natural gas and electricity.

This was not what the Palmer United team wanted.

If Australian families, industry and citizens were not going to receive a reduction in their electricity and natural gas bills, then the Palmer United Senate team resolved it could not in moral conscience vote to repeal the carbon tax.

The Palmer United team took a positive approach. We redrafted the amendment to deliver reductions to electricity and natural gas consumers from benefits the repeal of the carbon tax would deliver to generators of electricity and producers of natural gas.

The amendment was delivered to the clerk of the Senate office around 8.30am last Thursday morning (10 July), with instructions to circulate the amendment. I personally informed a government minister of the changes. Palmer United senators entered the Senate Chamber believing the amendment would be circulated by the clerk of the Senate office. It wasn’t.

This meant the previous draft was listed as the Palmer United amendment and as the government moved quickly to secure the passage of the amendment and the repeal of the carbon tax without the Palmer United senators’ most recent amendment.

The situation was discovered by my office in the House of Representatives. I ran from my office to the Senate Chamber and informed Palmer United Senate team of the situation. Why wasn’t our 8.30am amendment circulated by the clerk of the senate? I went to find out with members of our team. On encountering representatives of the clerk of the Senate office, I was informed that their view was our amendment was not in accordance with the constitution, so they had decided not to circulate it.

To me it seemed incredible that a public servant would form such a view and not carry out responsibilities to circulate the amendment, and had made no attempt to advise Senator Lazarus that such amendment had not been circulated. This meant the Palmer United team would be voting for a different amendment than the one they thought they were voting for.

In Australia, our democracy benefits from the separation of powers between the executive, the parliament and the courts. If a public servant can make a declaration that a proposal by an elected representative of the Australian people cannot be discussed in the Senate, the separation of powers and democracy itself is threatened.

I made this clear to the person I encountered and advised them in no uncertain terms that this matter would be referred to the High Court without delay if the amendment was not circulated. I understand a draft was subsequently circulated. I was then told the clerk’s office would advise the President of the Senate to rule it out of order. I took independent advice and based on that advice, and my own legal knowledge and experience, I was able to conclude what the clerk of the Senate office had said and the allegation itself was untrue.

The President of the Senate, to whom the clerk of the Senate reports, is a member of the Liberal Party of Australia. I took the view that the clerk’s office was being manipulated by the Liberal Party, or through time had assumed power it does not have to veto laws before they have been proposed by elected representative of the Australian people.

I then went back to the Senate to discuss the matter with our senators and on arriving I was confronted with the government’s leaders in the Senate who were taking the line of the clerk’s office.

I pointed out to them that regardless of the clerk’s advice and any ruling from the Liberal Party President of the Senate, the Senate had the power to move a dissent motion from any ruling the president may make.

They also confirmed to me that irrespective of the clerk’s advice, they had agreed that once the matter was referred back to the House of Representatives there could be no issue. So why not proceed and allow our amendment to be put and supported by the government?

I concluded that the reason was the government did not actually support the amendment and only wanted to appear to do so.

I could see no reason why Australian manufacturers should be forced to pay higher costs for power just to give the generators a higher profit, or to save them from poor investment decisions. I could not understand why Australians should be expected to continue to pay higher electricity charges just to make some failing enterprises appear profitable when they lacked the ability to compete in the market.

I suggested the amendment be adopted and I was advised that the Liberal Party would not vote against the proposed ruling of the President of the Senate. I was advised by the government’s leadership in the Senate that Palmer United should vote for the repeal of the carbon tax and the government could consider amendments in the House next week. This was unsatisfactory. I concluded that sincerity is always subject to proof.

I then consulted with my Senate team. It was decided to withdraw the amendment which was now being circulated so as not to waste the Senate’s time and to vote against the government proposal to repeal the carbon tax.

In so doing we noted the legislation had a start date of the 1st July 2014 and this would not change if the bill was introduced in the lower house the following week. It was too important to the rights and fairness for 23 million Australians to allow them to be forgotten in the rush for cash.

This crisis was brought on by the government. A government which has refused to recognise Palmer United as a political party, despite the fact that Palmer United received 5.6% of the national vote at the last election, while the Deputy Prime Minister’s party, the National Party, only managed 4%.

This was despite the fact that the Prime Minister only became Prime Minister because he received the Palmer United preferences. This was despite the fact that the Palmer United Party holds the balance of power in the Australian Senate and is the nation’s fourth largest political party. The Prime Minister has the discretion to recognise Palmer United Party as a political party in the parliament, but refuses to do it.

This means the Palmer United Party members have no party room at Parliament House and have been forced to set up a parliamentary office at the Press Club in Canberra, just so they can meet to discuss proposed bills.

The Greens have around 14 staff attached to the Greens Leader Christine Milne’s office who are able to consider government bills and legislation prior to it being introduced to the Senate. Palmer United has zero staff attached to my office to consider such matters.

The Greens have a party room at Parliament House and the staff attached to their leader include senior advisors, advisor level classifications and rights to travel across Australia. I have no such staff. I do however occupy the smallest office in the parliament.

The government has the support of many thousands of officers and can swamp senators with detail and endeavour to rob from them of the rights bestowed upon them by the Australian people, which is to exercise their vote in an informed and considered manner.

Be assured, Palmer United senators will stay true to the people who elected them regardless of any pressure the government or foreign media owners may seek to place upon them.

Australians must work together so that man can be as he was meant to be; free and independent.

Kind regards,

Clive Palmer

Hansard transcript of Clive Palmer’s speech to the House of Representatives on the Carbon Tax Repeal legislation.

Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (15:25): I thought it might be helpful to set out important matters that happened in and around the Australian Senate for the public interest. During last Wednesday night, Palmer United senators considered a draft amendment for the repeal of the carbon tax. The draft amendment was one the government and the Palmer United team had negotiated. Based on advice the Palmer United senate team received on Wednesday night, the position to them was clear. It was not mandatory for any savings brought about by the repeal of the carbon tax to be passed on to consumers of natural gas and electricity; our senators required that there be a mandatory pass on. This is not what the Palmer United team wanted.

If Australian families, industries and citizens are not going to receive the reduction to their electricity and natural gas bills, the Palmer United Senate team resolved that it could not, in moral conscience, vote for the repeal of the carbon tax. Palmer United took a positive approach and re-drafted the amendment to the effect of delivering reductions to electricity and natural gas, and clarified this with the government, who were supportive of that action. So, the benefit of the repeal of the carbon tax is that it would deliver a real reduction to generators of electricity and producers of natural gas and to the consumers of those commodities.

Palmer United supports the bill and the amendment that will be brought forward in the detailed consideration of the bill. The amendment to that bill—proposed today, I believe, and to be moved by the government during the detailed consideration stage later today—will allow and guarantee a reduction in electricity and gas to all Australians and to all businesses. If such changes are not passed on to consumers and enterprises, any entity not doing so will be subject to 250 per cent of the cost savings that have not been passed on to the consumers. This requirement applies only to the suppliers of natural gas and electricity or a bulk SGG importer in respect of supply of synthetic greenhouse gases. These requirements affect fewer than 100 entities in Australia but impact upon the lives of 23 million Australians, who have suffered under the carbon tax for too long a period.

We stand today on the edge of time, and destiny is ours to grab for our nation. There can be no justification to removing the carbon tax if it does not improve the lives of our citizens. We must have a mandatory requirement that the price of energy be reduced by the savings from the removal of the carbon tax, which no longer has to be paid. We must mandate that the electricity and gas costs for Australian families, single mothers and pensioners must be reduced by the abolition of the carbon tax. There must be a reduction of the costs of energy to our industries and our businesses to ensure their competitiveness and bring down the cost of production and the cost of employing people so more jobs can be created, so more Australians may find satisfaction and direction in gainful employment. The cost of running our schools, our hospitals and our institutions must benefit from lower energy costs.

There is no justification for the carbon tax. The carbon tax sets the price of carbon at a far higher price than applies to the rest of the world. It is higher than the ETS in Europe and much higher than the ETS in New Zealand. We must stand on the right side of history, and the right side of history is standing up for the Australian people, for their livelihood and for their future.

Climate change is a global problem, and it needs a global solution. Australian families cannot bear the responsibility for this matter for the whole world, when Australian trading partners fail to act and are not united on the issue. For Australia to act alone and impose a tax on carbon at this time has only placed a tax on jobs and discouraged investments. The cost of energy for all Australians shows a lack of confidence in our community for investment and growth to allow our business to employ more people and to allow economic stimulation to be undertaken.

Mr Sukkar interjecting—

Mr PALMER: I was a member of the party over there four years ago. I said it then. This is so we can have more economic revenue and more revenue for government. More revenue will mean more resources for the government, which will mean more hospitals, more schools and a rising standard of living.

If the day comes that our major trading partners of China, the United States of America, the European Union, Japan and Korea set up an ETS then they will know that Australia is also serious about an ETS because our senators plan to move in the Senate an ETS dependent upon our trading partners also acting in that regard. It has been said that when our trading partners set up an emissions trading scheme they will require that their trading partners, including Australia, exporting to their countries pay an emissions trading tax upon the import of those products if their governments do not have an environmental trading scheme. In these circumstances, if Australia does not have an emissions trading scheme, Australia’s exporters will be paying a tax to another country instead of to Australia.

Australia needs all the revenue it can get to meet the hopes and aspirations of the people of this country and the people of the world. The world is constantly changing and our ability to adapt to change and to keep an open mind on issues which affect all of us is what really matters. It is not about the Labor way or the Liberal way; it is the right way that is important for Australia and the world.

True to our promise to the Australian people at the last election, Palmer United senators will vote in the Senate to abolish the carbon tax. In so doing, Palmer United senators will support the initiatives that the government will foreshadow later on today in the consideration in detail of the bill. Removal of the carbon tax requires that all producers of energy in this country are required by law to pass on to all consumers of energy the savings from the repeal of the carbon tax. Action by Palmer United senators will make Australian industries more competitive internationally and the lives of our people more manageable.

Carbon tax, as I have said, is an arbitrary tax. It sets a price, as we know, far above the level of the international price of carbon. It disadvantages all Australians and it must be repealed. To introduce an increase in excise and indexation is, in our view, not the answer. If New Zealand can join the international community, why can’t Australia? Acting alone, Australia cannot change the world or climate change. We must not act just ourselves as an isolated island where our carbon share is less than one per cent of the world’s emissions. We must think of the global situation and a global solution not just ourselves but for all our children and all the children of the world not just in our time but for all time.

Time waits for no man. The challenges we face are not easy but face them we must—and face them we can together. Climate change must have a global solution. There are moves around the world. Many countries are failing to act because they are unsure of how this issue will be dealt with by other nations. Australia has the opportunity to set the standard. We can act as a catalyst for the whole world and set a fair framework which the world can follow. In understanding climate change, we must remain ever vigilant and aware that Australia is part of an international community and, more importantly, of what the global community can do together to make the lives of those who inhabit this planet more secure. Together we can achieve the extraordinary. President Obama of the United States has shown great leadership in encouraging all countries to act on an emissions trading scheme.

In voting for the abolition of the carbon tax, Palmer United senators will move later on in the week to establish an emissions trading scheme which would only become effective once Australia’s main trading partners also take action to establish such a scheme. These actions must be set based on the actions of our leading trading partners—China, the United States of America, the European Union, India, Japan and Korea. We need to ensure that the jobs and enterprises of all Australians will not be disadvantaged.

We in Palmer United encourage all members of this country to support the government in their initiative to ensure that the benefits from the abolition of the carbon tax flow on to our industries and to our people. The world will know once we act that they can be sure that Australia will respond to a global emissions trading scheme that promotes international trade and prosperity.

As John Kennedy said many years ago:

“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

When truth triumphs over injustice everyone is a winner. The inconvenient truth is a truth that what we must face together—not alone and isolated on an island but together as a united international community that can bring about real change.

The Palmer United Party’s role in the Senate is to keep faith with the Australian people. Listening is one of the most important things we can do in this place and in the Senate. By listening we can learn from others and make changes before change changes us. As Australians we must put the interests of our people before our own individual interests and the interests of all people of the world ahead of all else.

As has been said, we need an open mind. This is called for by the need for a better mutual understanding and mutual respect. An open mind will enable us to have an objective and realistic understanding of each other. We can discover not only what divides us but what we have in common. We have more in common in the common future that binds us together. At least we can see to it that the differences will not result in clashes and confrontation. An open mind will also enable us to be more appreciative, accommodating and supportive of each other’s concerns and priorities.

Despite all the talk about climate change in the world, we are still a developing world with a huge population and we still face various problems of unbalanced development, poverty and environmental degradation. We seek a better world for Australia and for all citizens of the world so that one day man can be what he was meant to be: free and independent.

The abolition of the carbon tax is the first step in allowing Australian enterprises to compete, increase exports, employ more people and, more importantly, allow Australians to pay lower electricity and gas prices and relieve some of the pressures that have been placed on families right across this nation. That is why Palmer United took a stand in the Senate—to ensure that all Australians would be dealt with fairly by the abolition of the carbon tax.

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