Billionaire federal MP Clive Palmer says he will not support government plans to cut unemployment benefits to young people because he was helped by the dole when he was an out-of-work teenager.
Mr Palmer refuses to support key elements of the federal budget, including the $7 co-payment to visit a doctor, the scrapping of the carbon tax and mining tax and a move to cut unemployment benefits for people under age 30.
The Queensland-based MP and mining magnate said he was on unemployment benefits for four months after leaving school but “was able to get myself together and get a good start”.
He said he would not support government moves to make benefits unavailable to under 30s for the first six months of unemployment.
“What do we want to do with our young people – do we want to turn them to crime?” Mr Palmer told an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney.
“We will be paying the bill one way or the other.”
Mr Palmer criticised a lack of vision among Australia’s major political parties and called for reforms including a US-style chapter 11 bankruptcy protection scheme to support struggling businesses and changes to how businesses pay tax.
“We should not accept defeat by just cutting and slashing. We want to set the national agenda for growth,” he said.
“If we get rid of the carbon tax, if we get rid of the mining tax, what do we do then? That’s not going to make the economy strong and prosperous.”
The federal government will be forced to negotiate with Mr Palmer’s Palmer United Party, which, with key independents, will hold the balance of power in the Senate after July 1.
Mr Palmer said Australia did not have a debt problem, pointing to the nation’s AAA credit rating and low debt by OECD standards.
He criticised the co-payment plan as “nasty” and dismissed the $20 billion medical research fund to be created using co-payment revenue as “just an illusion”, saying it would not eventuate.
By Peter Trute, AAP