02 April 2014
Tony Abbott accuses Clive Palmer of trying to buy Senate seats in WA
PM says voters 'too smart and savvy' to be influenced by ad blitz
Tony Abbott has accused Clive Palmer of trying to buy seats in the parliament of Australia and appealed to Western Australian voters not to allow themselves to be 'bought'.
Palmer has been outspending both major parties in an advertising blitz in the leadup to Saturday's WA Senate rerun, but Abbott said he thought WA voters were too smart and savvy to be influenced by the massive ad campaign.
The people of Western Australia are a smart, savvy people, and I don't believe they are going to allow themselves to be bought
I don't believe the people of Western Australia are going to put seats in the national parliament up for sale, which is effectively what someone is trying to do, he is out there trying to buy seats in the parliament of Australia and I don't think that is something the people of Western Australia will fall for.
The prime minister's attack came as Palmer insisted he had finally paid the outstanding carbon tax bill of his wholly owned company Queensland Nickel. The company assured the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) the $8.4m owed was on its way, but a spokeswoman for the regulator said late on Tuesday the money had not yet arrived.
Palmer, who has been demanding the carbon tax repeal be made retrospective, told journalists in Perth that Queensland Nickel's carbon tax bill had been paid in full.
He said the regulator had given the company until 5 April.
Most people pay their tax bill just before it's due, he said.
The spokeswoman said the CER "is currently investigating whether Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd has made any payments towards the debt in the last 24 hours. We have no record of payment having been received at this stage."
At close of business she added that Queensland Nickel had assured the CER the money was on its way. Government sources also said they understood the money was en route.
Abbott also took issue with Palmer's major campaign promise to WA voters, that he would use the considerable leverage of Senate balance of power to win a bigger share of the goods and services tax for Western Australia.
You ought to ask his party in Tasmania what it thinks about the GST before you take seriously what they are saying in WA, Abbott said.
Palmer's latest WA ad asserts that Liberal and Labor are both taking the bread out of the mouths of WA babies because of the unfair distribution of the GST. At a Perth press conference on Tuesday, Palmer said the position of the major parties on GST distribution was close to treason, adding to journalists there's a headline.
But the GST distribution can only be changed with the agreement of all states, which Palmer is highly unlikely to be able to achieve even if he wins another Senate seat in WA.
In March Palmer spent 11 times more on advertising than the Labor party and 14 times more than the Liberals, according to figures provided by the advertising monitoring firm Ebiquity.
A spokesman for Ebiquity said it was 'unprecedented' for a minor party to outspend the major parties in this way.
If PUP gains a WA senator to join its senators-elect from Tasmania and Queensland and the voting bloc PUP has formed with Victorian Motoring party senator-elect Ricky Muir, the Coalition will need PUP votes for every piece of legislation that is opposed by Labor and the Greens.