Climate set to improve for Coalition - briefly

    The Abbott government is on the cusp of delivering its most central election pledge with repeal of the carbon tax set to be the first order of business for the newly configured Senate, sitting from Monday.

    The fate of the carbon tax and that of the mining tax is all but sealed but a swathe of other government measures including much of the May 13 budget remains hostage to a populist upper-house dominated by a record number of crossbenchers.

    After almost five years of the most acrimonious public debate, the axe will finally fall on the two-year-old carbon tax within days, handing money back to households and business and releasing what Mr Abbott once characterised as a ''python squeeze'' on the Australian economy.

    Its demise has the support of the Palmer United Party's four-vote bloc plus two new right-leaning senators, South Australia's Family First senator, Bob Day, and the NSW Liberal Democratic Party senator, David Leyonhjelm.

    Labor and the Greens will vote against the repeal. They will be joined by existing crossbench senator Nick Xenophon and possibly by DLP senator John Madigan who are likely to vote against a plan to guillotine debate and rush to a vote.

    Senator Xenophon said it was a bad sign that the new Senate would have an important debate truncated at its first sitting.

    But PUP leader Clive Palmer, who signed the death warrant of the carbon tax a fortnight ago when he announced finally that he would back the repeal, confirmed that he would support the government's planned suspension of standing orders to bring the repeal bills on for a vote this week, declaring that a Labor-Greens insistence on sticking to a previous timetable of no debate until July 14 was pointless.

    ''After all this time, we know absolutely where everyone stands, we don't need any more inquiries or delays, we just need the vote,'' he said.

    ''We think the carbon tax has been well and truly discussed over the last five years.''

    Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the government should wait until a Senate committee report into the carbon price repeal is delivered on July 14 before reintroducing legislation to scrap it.

    Ms Wong said the government was rushing the new crossbenchers to score a ''political win''.

    On being described by Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie as one of her political heroes, Ms Wong told ABC radio: ''It's very kind of her. I was going to say to Jacqui when I see her in person: it's not often I'm on the same list as Margaret Thatcher.

    ''Women in politics, as we know, have to hold their own and I think Jacqui demonstrates her capacity to do that and good on her.''

    For the government to get to a final vote early this week it must circumvent a previously agreed timetable that would have prevented consideration of the legislation until after the tabling of a Senate committee inquiry into the repeal, set for next Monday, July 14.

    The government had hoped to accelerate that timetable at a committee meeting last Friday but was out-manoeuvred when Labor and Greens senators denied the meeting a necessary quorum.

    Environment Minister Greg Hunt appealed on Sunday to the opposition to recognise the government's clear mandate and allow the matter to proceed.

    ''The first thing I'd say to the ALP is - you can vote against it, but please don't stop the Senate voting on it,'' he said.

    The appeal came as Mr Hunt reassured Australian households that their power bills would go down noticeably.

    ''What happens here is very clear and that is whatever you've had added to your bills from the carbon tax will be reduced by the full amount of the carbon tax,'' he promised. After repealing the carbon tax the government will then move to its second biggest priority, ditching the underperforming Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

    But success for the government on both taxes does not extend to a vast array of other government plans with the Senate set to block the planned higher education changes deregulating universities, disallow changes to the financial advice laws brought in last week by regulation and throw out a long list of other budget measures, including the $7 GP co-payment and the proposed restoration of fuel excise.

    Crossbench Senator Leyonhjelm told reporters in Canberra on Monday that his new role ''scares the crap out of me''.

    Just three of those taking their seats on the red benches for the first time ran the media gauntlet outside Parliament House on Monday.

    Matthew Canavan, flanked by his Nationals colleagues, said it all felt rather like the first day of school.

    ''It's a bit better here though because I get along much better with these teachers than I did with my actual teachers,'' he said.

    Senator Day said his fellow debutants were eager to prove their critics wrong.

    The Family First senator noted the crossbench had been called ''a mish-mash, flotsam and jetsam, bunch of barnyard (animals), licorice all-sorts, Star Wars aliens''.

    ''All those things we think are hilarious,'' he deadpanned. ''We're all committed to doing a good job.''

    with Lisa Cox

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    The story Climate set to improve for Coalition - briefly first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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