Cracks in the ranks as PUP candidate backs a carbon price

It is an offbeat wish-list: a breakaway state of north Queensland, a system of processing asylum seekers on arrival at Australian airports, and a budget-defying $100 billion boost to health and education spending.

The suddenly powerful Palmer United Party wants to put all these ideas on the nation’s agenda – but policy splits are already emerging in the fledgling political force.

One of its two expected balance-of-power senators has revealed she supports keeping the carbon tax but at a lower rate.

Leader Clive Palmer, who spent millions of dollars on pre-election advertising and remains on track to seize the lower house Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, warned he would insist on senators voting as a bloc in line with party policy.

According to a 22-page policy document, based on the optimistic assumption the party would actually storm into power, a ”Palmer United Government” would not only scrap the carbon tax but provide refunds for amounts already paid.

One of the two PUP candidates likely to become influential senators next July, Jacqui Lambie from Tasmania, told ABC Radio the carbon tax ”just needs to be a lot lower than what it is”.

Ms Lambie went to ground after the radio interview and did not return multiple calls from Fairfax Media. The other likely PUP senator, Queensland-based former rugby league star Glenn Lazarus, was also unreachable.

But Mr Palmer predicted the pair would support party policy on the carbon tax.

”I think we’ll all vote together as a bloc, our senators,” he said.

”We all believe the same things. My relationship with them will be exactly the same as Tony Abbott’s relationship with his senators.”

Mr Palmer ruled out horse-trading with Mr Abbott – demanding support for one policy in exchange for another pet policy getting up – saying the party would consider proposals on their merits.

There is overlap with Coalition policy, for example, in the desire to cut taxpayer ”waste”, decentralise power to local communities, and limit the size of government.

But there are some offbeat ideas, including spending proposals that fly in the face of Mr Abbott’s past warnings about a ”budget emergency”.

Electoral officials are recounting the lower house seat of Fairfax with the allocation of preferences to the two leading contenders, Mr Palmer and LNP rival Ted O’Brien.

Mr Palmer was ahead with 52.9 per cent of the vote part-way through counting on Monday, but postal votes are yet to be tallied.The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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