Staying put: Clive Palmer signs office lease. Photo: NIck MoirClive Palmer has signed a commercial lease for office space at the National Press Club building in Canberra, suggesting the conservative populist plans on staying in federal politics for at least the six-year terms of his new senators.
The development came as Prime Minister Tony Abbott appeared to wind back his implied threat of a double-dissolution election if his budget measures are blocked, arguing he would negotiate a way forward on most matters.
That raises the possibility of compromises on unpopular budget measures and could lead to changes such as a lower GP co-payment or exempting children under 13 or concession card holders from the proposed $7 fee.
Mr Palmer’s move to establish a headquarters off site follows an unsuccessful attempt to pressure the Abbott government into significantly increasing the parliamentary staff and office allocation for the Palmer United Party.
In addition to Mr Palmer himself as a lower house MP, the PUP will count three rookie senators in its party room from July: senators Dio Wang (Western Australia), Jacqui Lambie (Tasmania) and Glenn Lazarus (Queensland).
A fourth senator-elect, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir (Victoria), is also expected to vote with the PUP in an as yet undefined alliance arrangement.
Mr Palmer is to meet with Mr Abbott on Thursday to begin a dialogue over a slew of government budget bills. Mr Palmer has signalled that he will announce his party’s long-awaited positions on several budget measures before he meets the Prime Minister.
For any government bill that is opposed by Labor and the Greens from July, the Abbott government will need six additional votes along with its 33 senators. That means securing the PUP’s support.