Xenophon warns of Senate circus

first_imgFollowing last weekend’s re-run of the WA Senate vote – which has enabled the Palmer United Party to form a strong voting bloc in the upper house – Nick Xenophon has warned that senators who are seen to turn the upper house into a “circus” will be punished by the electorate.The vote in Western Australia saw a swing towards the Palmer party and the Greens, with the Liberals and particularly ALP losing votes.Senator Xenophon said this week that the new Senate would either work well or be a “complete disaster” – implying the cashed-up MP Clive Palmer could have a seriously destabilising influence.“I think the new Senate will pose challenges to the government that they’ve never seen before,” Xenophon told reporters on Monday.Mr Palmer has warned the government that it may face tough negotiations to get policies such as the carbon and mining tax repeals through, despite the PUP’s previously expressed support for the policy.With his hand strengthened by the WA results, Mr Palmer said a deal on the mining tax was reliant on the government scrapping plans to stop welfare payments for children of Australian soldiers injured of killed in the line of duty.The PUP leader is also set on backdating the repeal of the carbon tax to its introduction in 2012.While Palmer says his party had not made any final decision on its bargaining position, Nick Xenophon said the billionaire’s capacity to pursue radical positions on legislation could backfire.“If the Senate turns into a circus, the Australian people will punish those senators that are turning it into a circus accordingly at the ballot box,” said the SA senator.From July 1, the Senate could have a cross-bench of up to eight minor-party senators.The PUP is likely to hold three seats and has signed an agreement with Victoria’s Motoring Enthusiasts Party senator-elect Ricky Muir, giving Clive Palmer control over four upper house votes.Over a lunch between Xenophon and Palmer in recent days, the two politicians discussed their common ground and differences.“Fish was on the plate, but there was nothing fishy about the meeting,” Senator Xenophon told Neos Kosmos.“It was constructive. I want the new Senate to work and I believe Clive Palmer does as well.”One issue discussed related to Senator Xenophon’s long-standing campaign against poker machines.“We talked about pokies and I’m really encouraged by the fact that Clive Palmer has a genuine concern about their impact.”Senator Xenophon said that whilst the issue of the carbon tax repeal may have been alluded to briefly at the lunch, no substantive details had been discussed.Xenophon supports the adoption of an alternative scheme to reduce carbon emissions to replace the tax – a scheme which Palmer is unlikely to support. Asked how he saw his relationship evolving with the PUP-led bloc, the Independent senator for SA said: “We’ll wait and see. They need to know that you need to work constructively with your cross-bench colleagues. If you don’t it will be counter productive.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more