The Senate rejected the bills to repeal the carbon tax, after a dramatic morning in which PUP leader Clive Palmer claimed he and his senators had been “double-crossed” by the Coalition.
The lunchtime vote was rejected 37 votes to 35.
Mr Palmer said his senators would vote against the legislation after claiming that PUP amendments to force power companies to pass on savings from the carbon tax’s repeal had not been submitted for Senate scrutiny this morning.
“It [the savings legislation] was to be circulated by the time Parliament had come in and it hadn’t been circulated and our senators hadn’t been told and they were left in the dark,” he said.
“Fortunately we’ve discovered that and [the senators] were able to become aware of it so I’ve just met with them down there and their view was that under no circumstances they would be voting for the carbon tax repeal.
Al Gore tried to convince Clive Palmer to keep the carbon tax
“I think you’d call it double-crossing people.”
The savings measure was a condition of Mr Palmer’s support for the repeal bills.
Labor’s leader in the Senate Penny Wong said it appeared “the Palmer United Party might have been sold a pup”.
“Sorry – I had to just say that once,” she added.
The Government had opted to bring on the vote to repeal of the tax, under the impression that it had Mr Palmer’s support.
This morning the PUP senators and Victorian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator Ricky Muir voted to limit debate on the bills and bring the vote on.
But Mr Palmer said they only did that because they believed their new amendment had been included in the package of bills to be considered.
The mining tycoon said his new amendments were met with a “violent reaction” from Government ministers, who went to last year’s election on a promise to repeal the tax.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott looking to repeal the carbon tax
“We had ministers visiting us and calling us and complaining,” he said.
“All our amendment did really was to guarantee, make it mandatory, that the savings from the carbon tax repeal by energy producers, gas producers, electricity producers would be passed on down the line to consumers.
“We’ve stiffened it up.”
PUP also added a provision that if savings are not passed on by July 1, 2015, the companies will have to pay a penalty calculated at 250 per cent of its savings to the Commonwealth of Australia.
“That wasn’t well received,” Mr Palmer said of the Government’s reaction.
Earlier, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was heralding today as “the day when the carbon tax is finally scrapped”.
The Government says axing the tax will save the average household $550 a year.
“If the Senate votes today, as it should, people’s next power bill will be less than it would otherwise be, because of the Australian Parliament respecting the mandate of the people and keeping the commitments that were made,” he said.