Vote on carbon tax delayed by chaos

The Abbott government's plan to bring on a vote to scrap the carbon tax was delayed on Monday after a day of chaos in the Senate that saw Palmer United Party senators side with the Opposition and Greens to block its first attempt.

The government said late on Monday it was confident there would still be a vote to repeal the tax this week, but some Coalition senators were left questioning the Senate leadership team's ability to martial the crossbench.

The confusion came after the government attempted to bring on a vote by circumventing Labor motions to split the eight carbon tax repeal bills into separate debates and prevent a Senate committee on the bills from reporting a week early.

Clive Palmer met Liberal Senate leader Eric Abetz and Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday to hammer out the details of an amendment that would ensure households receive the full financial benefit of the carbon tax repeal.

Those amendments make it clear that power companies are obliged to reduce charges, make it clear all savings must be passed on from the repeal of the carbon tax, and require companies to substantiate their efforts to pass on cost savings to households.

After the meeting, the government believed it had the support from the crossbench, including Palmer United Party senators, to bring on debate immediately on Monday.

But hours after the new senators took their places, Senator Abetz and manager of government business in the Senate Mitch Fifield failed to secure votes needed to begin debate.

Senator Fifield will launch a new attempt on Tuesday and late on Monday the government was confident it had support from the crossbench after ''first day of school'' confusion.

The government now plans for the eight repeal bills to be considered as a package.

After the carbon tax repeal, it has flagged willingness to deal with carbon farming laws next.

That would be followed by the Climate Change Authority bill, if Mr Palmer is ready with amendments, which would mandate that Australia move to a zero-rated emissions trading scheme, which would be activated when five major trading partners take similar action.

It is also willing for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which the Palmer United Party will vote to save, to continue operating and will not bring on a vote to abolish it at this stage.

Down the track, CEFC operations are expected to be redirected towards solar energy and away from wind farming.

The government also signalled on Monday that it could make additional funds available to the CCA when its funds run out in December, in a move that would further smooth relations with Mr Palmer and bolster Australia's environmental credentials, which have been seen internationally as fading under the Coalition.

This story Vote on carbon tax delayed by chaos first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.