Coalition to get tough on Palmer

The Abbott Government has vowed to take a stronger line with maverick billionaire Clive Palmer, warning that the public will be infuriated if crossbenchers do not make good on their promise to kill the carbon tax.

But the coalition appears less than certain Mr Palmer will play ball, admitting the exact wording of the repeal Bill is still in a state of flux.

The confusion comes as a major delegation of WA businesses heads to Canberra to demand the Senate provide more certainty for companies struggling in a sluggish economy.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said yesterday he was done with "diplomacy" with Mr Palmer and was "firming up" his approach in negotiating.

"We all went to the election - all eight crossbench senators and the coalition - with a pledge to repeal," Mr Hunt said.

"The Australian people would be deeply disappointed, and I imagine angered, if that were not followed through this week."

Until now the Government has been reluctant to attack Mr Palmer, fearing confrontation could damage efforts to push other Bills through the Upper House.

Mr Palmer has been in New Zealand since Thursday night, making negotiations difficult.

The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry will lead a delegation to Canberra to focus on cutting business costs for WA firms.

"WA business expects the Senate to repeal the carbon tax as soon as possible," chamber chief executive Deidre Willmott said. "We call on the members of the crossbench not to delay the repeal any longer."

WA companies will also use the visit to call for industrial relations reform, warning that with the mining construction boom winding down the State needed to be freed from economic constraints.

"The resources sector remains a key pillar of the WA economy," Ms Willmott said.

"However, with record levels of project construction investment coming to an end, we need policies that support and promote growth in other sectors of the economy."

WA companies will press senior MPs to embrace laws to allow employers and their workforces to negotiate directly without the compulsory involvement of unions.

It also wants greenfield industrial relations agreements that last the length of a project rather than four years, changes to right of entry laws and "reforms" to penalty rates in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors.

The chamber will be looking for major tax reform. The Government has promised a taxation White Paper but the chamber believes it cannot be restrained, arguing it must have an "everything on the table" mandate. That would enable the paper to canvass changes to the GST.

In a sign of the new focus being taken by the chamber, the WA delegation will be light on resources companies.

CBH, the University of WA, the Brand Agency, Laurance Wines, HUB Communications and Sticky Fingers Gourmet Foods will join the delegation.

St Stephens, WOMA Australia, Bethanie and Good Samaritans Industries will also be represented.

The West Australian

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