Govt sidelines Palmer party on budget

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has given up talks with the Palmer United Party over passing budget measures.


The government needs six of the eight crossbench senators – or the Greens or Labor – on side to pass its budget legislation, some of which requires passage before July 1.

Mr Morrison told 2GB radio on Tuesday he had written off the possibility of PUP senator Dio Wang supporting the government.

“There is no point because their position is well known and I am not going to waste their time and I presume they don’t want to waste ours,” Mr Morrison said.

“But the other senators have been very engaging on all these issues.”

The minister said there is no “crisis” around passing the bills, many of which are not urgent.

“We are following the normal process and we are working through the issues,” Mr Morrison said.

PUP has voted with the government on 54 per cent of occasions since September last year.

Thirty per cent of substantive votes have been won by the coalition with crossbench support, compared with 42 per cent with Labor backing.

The government may need to rely more heavily on the Labor opposition to deliver on its 2015 budget.

It was revealed on Tuesday the opposition will back the abolition of the dependent spouse tax offset, saving the budget about $600 million over a decade.

Labor will also support stopping a legislated increase to the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $19,400, which was due to start on July 1.

That will save almost $3 billion over four years and $7.7 billion over a decade.

Labor employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the opposition was willing to talk to the government on any measure that did not contravene ALP values or breach election promises.

“This (dependent spouse tax offset) is an anachronistic provision and we’re happy to support the government in finding savings because they definitely need it,” Mr O’Connor told Sky News.

He said the coalition had doubled the budget deficit since 2013.