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20 November 2014

Palmer's relationship with 'liar' Lambie hits new low

The relationship between Clive Palmer and Jacqui Lambie has sunk to a new low, with the Tasmanian senator vowing to ignore "abusive threats" from her party leader who has branded her a "liar".

The feud within the Palmer United Party erupted earlier this month when Senator Lambie said she would defy her party if necessary and oppose all government legislation in protest to proposed pay rises for Defence personnel.

This morning she reversed her thinking on the Government's changes to Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws, and tonight teamed with Labor, the Greens and other crossbench senators to have them overturned.

The PUP reacted to Senator Lambie's change of heart by stripping her of the party’s deputy leadership in the Senate and suspended her from partyroom meetings.

But Senator Lambie said she would stand firm.

"Today's abusive threats to kick me out of the Palmer United Party will not interfere with my free and fair performance as a member of this Parliament," she told the Senate this afternoon.

Senator Lambie apologised for initially supporting the Government's proposed financial advice changes, telling the Senate she was now better informed.

She said she would oppose the new laws despite coming under pressure from Mr Palmer.

"I want to address the sly personal attack the leader of the Palmer United Party has waged against me in public in recent times," Senator Lambie said.

"I understand that he is under pressure because of bad political decisions and legal action that's been taken against him.

"However that doesn't give him the right to spread hurtful rumours about me in an effort to intimidate or interfere with the free and fair performance of a member of this Senate."

Palmer labels Lambie a liar
Mr Palmer responded with a statement in which he said Senator Lambie had lied to the Senate to cover up her own misgivings and that she needed help to "get back on track".

He said Senator Lambie had not spoken to him for a month and she had failed to return his calls and attend party meetings.

"This is because Senator Lambie's planning to set up an alternate political party," he said in the statement.

"Jacqui Lambie has not brought forward one proposal to the party about Tasmanians, the people who elected her, or about veterans.

"Her statements she has made about me today are false ...

"She just wants to have a fight about nothing which is not a rational way to behave as a respectable senator."

Mr Palmer said Senator Lambie was still a member of the PUP.

"We hope she gets the appropriate assistance to get back on track," he said.

'Coalition of common sense'
Labor introduced the FOFA reforms after a series of high-profile financial collapses rattled investor confidence in the sector.

The Coalition sought to moderate them and scrapped a legal obligation requiring financial advisers to take "any reasonable steps" in their clients' interests.

The latest furore was sparked this morning when Senator Lambie, Senator Ricky Muir, Senator John Madigan and Senator Nick Xenophon announced they were uniting to oppose the changes.

Senator Xenophon held a press conference to explain his decision, flanked by Labor's Sam Dastyari, Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson and senators Madigan, Lambie and Muir, who had previously formed an alliance with PUP.

"Despite our political differences, we have banded together as a coalition of common sense," Senator Xenophon said.

"Our common, unequivocal objective is to have the Government's FOFA regulations disallowed today in the Senate because they are unambiguously bad for consumers."

Senator Muir told the Senate that since first supporting the legislation, he had learned more about the negative effects the changes would have.

"What I'm interested in is protecting consumers and protecting my constituents. This disallowance motion ensures that any proposed changes to financial advice laws that impact on consumers are properly scrutinised by the Parliament," he said.

Fiery scenes as motion introduced to Senate

The disallowance motion passed the Senate 32 votes to 30.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said it was bad news for consumers and for small business financial advisers.

"Sadly, good public policy reform which the Government took to the last election has now been caught up in internal minor party disputes," he said in a statement said.

"By disallowing our FOFA improvements, the Senate voted to increase the cost of financial advice and to lessen competition across the financial advice industry without improving consumer protections for Australians saving for their retirement.

"This is not in the public interest."

Senator Cormann said the Government remained committed to its reforms.

There were fiery scenes in the Senate when the disallowance motion was introduced.

Liberal frontbencher Michael Ronaldson accused Labor of doing the bidding of unions.

"Dirty tricks done dirt cheap. Dirty tricks done dirt cheap," Senator Ronaldson said.

"This is a dirty trick but it hasn't been done dirt cheap. This is a dirty trick paid for by the CFMEU and other union leaders."