Clive Palmer has used his party’s balance of power in the Senate to block the government’s carbon tax repeal.

The Abbott government’s carbon tax repeal bills have been defeated in the Senate.

The government on Thursday forced an urgent vote on the repeal bills, expecting the three Palmer United Party senators and Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir to give them the numbers.

But in a last-minute twist PUP leader Clive Palmer pulled his party’s support, triggering chaos in the upper house.

Senator Muir and the three PUP senators sided with Labor and the Greens to defeat the legislation.

It is the second time the package of repeal bills has been rejected in the Senate.

It’s a major blow for the government, which had been counting on the PUP senators to back the repeal as promised.

Mr Palmer upped the ante earlier on Thursday by announcing surprise changes to his own party’s amendment at the eleventh hour and declaring his senators would not vote for the repeal as expected.

PUP Senate leader Glenn Lazarus then withdrew his party’s original amendment to ensure savings from the repeal were passed on before his team voted against the package.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young summed up reaction to the vote and events leading up to it with a one-word tweet: “Wow”.


For repeal:

– Coalition (31)

– Family First’s Bob Day

– Liberal Democratic Party’s David Leyonhjelm

– Independent Nick Xenophon

– Democratic Labour Party’s John Madigan

Total = 35

Against repeal:

– Labor (23)

– The Australian Greens (10)

– Palmer United Party (3)

– Australia Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir

Total = 37