28 April 2014
Three Northern Territory MPs join Palmer United party
Indigenous Country Liberal party members' defections give PUP a foothold in the NT assembly
The Palmer United party has gained a foothold in the Northern Territory's legislative assembly after three former Country Liberal party MPs joined Clive Palmer's party.
Alison Anderson, Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu and Larisa Lee will represent the PUP in the assembly after quitting the governing CLP last month.
Palmer said the three indigenous politicians approached the PUP to suggest a partnership. They were concerned about what was happening, the racial vilification of people up there by the NT government. They wanted to have some support and protection, Palmer told the ABC's Insiders program. We wanted to do what we could to make it a better place for territorians.
Palmer said the Northern Territory's government was falling apart and that he was concerned about the status of indigenous people in the territory. We think it's unacceptable that indigenous children are dying at twice the rate of white children, he said. We think something's got to be done about it. The federal government needs to take urgent action to stop it happening.
The three MPs resigned from the CLP after negotiations broke down on a list of their demands, such as the reinstatement of a department for Aboriginal affairs. Before this, Anderson was reportedly verbally abused by a colleague in the CLP's party room.
Despite the defections, the CLP, led by the chief minister, Adam Giles, will retain a slender majority in the assembly.
The Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, agrily derided the PUP recruitment of the three Territory MLAs. Newman claimed Palmer had tried to buy the Queensland government and was now on a rampage around Australia trying to buy other people and buy people's votes.
In a markedly vociferous intervention concerning the politics of a separate Australian jurisdiction, Newman urged journalists to quiz Palmer about the deal. I ask what inducements were offered to these three MPs, what promises, what inducements were offered to them to jump ship? Newman said.
On the Insiders program Palmer sounded a more conciliatory note on the federal government's climate policy, which he had called hopeless and dead last week.
Palmer had threatened to block the Direct Action plan in the Senate, or refuse to repeal the existing carbon pricing system, if the government attempted to pass it as part of the budget.
Since then, the government has released a white paper on Direct Action, which Palmer said his senators would consider. We've got something to consider now, so Direct Action isn't what it was last week. We'll consider it in detail, he said.
However, he added: If they brought in Direct Action by linking it to the budget, and not allowing people in the Senate to consider it, we'll take our own appropriate direct action.
Palmer said his preferred climate change policy would be an inquiry in which Australians were allowed to say what they think about this issue and have advice from scientists so we can come to a consensus.
Palmer also said he would not support the government's widely reported move to raise the pension age to 70. I couldn't employ Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey at 69, no matter how confident they were, he said. They will have a big fat parliamentary pension that you and I will pay for. I would find it hard to live on a pension.
The Coalition will have to rely on PUP votes when the new Senate is formed in July if it is to pass legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens. The PUP voting bloc includes Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast party, who was mentioned in Fairfax newspapers on Sunday.