After a week of Clive, Muir ready to rev up

Ricky Muir is moving out of the shadow of Clive Palmer, describing his agreement with the Palmer United Party as nothing more than a ''loose alliance'' and warning the government not to assume he will vote with PUP.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator's claim to independence provides another headache for the Coalition, which will attempt for a third time on Monday or Tuesday to corral a chaotic crossbench into voting to abolish the carbon tax.

In his first interview since arriving in Canberra, Senator Muir, who expects to help kill the carbon tax this week, revealed an agenda far wider than simply pushing the interests of motorists.

The so-called ''rev-head senator'' outlined personal passions that include organic food, which he grows and eats from his garden in rural Victoria, preventive healthcare, which he is interested in championing at a political level, and renewable energy, following his surprise intervention last week to protect the Australian Renewable Energy Agency from the government's budget knife.

With questions over whether the PUP senators, Glenn Lazarus, Jacqui Lambie and Dio Wang would remain together on every vote, Senator Muir stressed his agreement with the bloc boiled down to being ''together but autonomous''.

''The memorandum of understanding [signed with PUP] did say, and I stand by it, we will work together where practical. But we're going to need to do our own research on every different topic and then work together where practical.''

In his first week, Senator Muir has shown a willingness to vote in opposition to the PUP party line in some cases, surprising the government.

Glenn Druery, Senator Muir's political adviser said: ''A politician in the NSW Parliament said to me many years ago 'Don't look at what I say but what I do'. Look what Ricky has done. On day one, day two he showed his autonomy but today [Thursday] he was with Palmer. Who knows what is going to happen next week.''

Senator Muir revealed a broad belief in the environment, renewable energy and organic food. ''Just because someone is a motoring enthusiast doesn't mean they are an environmental vandal,'' he said. ''I don't think many people would argue that renewable energy is the way of the future.''

Asked whether he would use his balance of power influence to push for preventive health programs, he said: ''I will certainly look at it with a very open mind, that's for sure.''

Senator Muir said he would oppose the government's plans to raise petrol excise because not all excise revenue went into roads.

On the $7 Medicare co-payment and cuts to pensions he said: ''That's one I haven't looked into very much … Again, it's hitting the lower to mid income earners where it hurts.''

New threat for Prime Minister's bid to end tax

Prime Minister Tony Abbott faces a fresh threat to his attempt to repeal the carbon tax after two crossbenchers warn the government's pandering to Clive Palmer risks the loss of their support.

NSW senator David Leyonhjelm and South Australia's Bob Day said on Saturday they were concerned that ''severe compliance'' obligations placed on business by Palmer United Party amendments to the repeal bills could be ''worse than the tax itself''.

''We are signalling to the government they don't have a blank cheque with us,'' Senator Leyonhjelm said. ''If you give too much ground to PUP, you might lose us.''

The warning came after a shambolic performance in the Senate last week and the Palmer United Party voting down the repeal.

In Brisbane, Mr Abbott said he was confident the Senate would pass the repeal as soon as Monday. He would not be ''put off by a bad headline and one or two parliamentary difficulties''.

From sawmill to the Senate: the diary of Ricky Muir

Wednesday (July 2)

Woke the kids up at 5am and we drove seven hours to Canberra in two cars. I nearly had to cancel my 3.15pm meeting with Tony Abbott after getting stuck behind slow-moving traffic on the Monaro Highway. Within 20 minutes of getting to Canberra I was changed into a suit and arrived two minutes late for the meeting. Tony Abbott was quite respectful in person.

Everyone in government wanted to talk about their vehicles. Abbott used to own an Austin 1800 and a Triumph - cars I would notice if I saw them on the road.

It didn't sink in until about two hours later that I'd just sat down with the Prime Minister of Australia.

Thursday/Friday

''Senator kindy'', as they call it, was a good opportunity time to meet other new senators, get to know Parliament House and learn more about the procedures of the Senate, which I have been reading up on since the election.

We were all newcomers and everyone got along well.

Monday

I'd waited nine months for the swearing-in ceremony. It was very much a moment of pride to have my family watching. There were no nerves at all.

My son Tristan, who is 19 months old, was calling out, ''Daddy, daddy.'' Absolutely gorgeous and a reminder of where I came from.

I met the Governor-General, Peter Cosgrove, after the ceremony. I said to the kids you better go back to mum, but he wanted the kids to come along and meet him.

Tuesday:

Met with Clive Palmer and PUP senators and talked about the future of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA hadn't been on Clive's agenda with Al Gore but he encouraged me to take up the issue to retain funding for research into renewables.

Wednesday

We were lobbying John Madigan and already had Nick Xenophon's support for my ARENA amendment until a deal was done with PUP that will save it from being abolished.

I voted against the government gagging debate on the carbon tax to buy some more time to push our amendment on ARENA.

Saving ARENA is something I'm extremely proud of. I didn't expect to achieve something so big in my first week.

Thursday

I was very happy to be part of everything that happened on Thursday, although some have called the Senate a circus.

I wanted to make sure the savings from getting rid of the carbon tax are definitely passed on to consumers and business.

We went down the path we had to.

The story After a week of Clive, Muir ready to rev up first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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