Lambie hopeful after 'open' talks with Hockey

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie address the media during a joint press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 17 July 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie address the media during a joint press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 17 July 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

TREASURER Joe Hockey may have found a way to charm the savage PUP.

Liberal-baiting Palmer United Senator Jacqui Lambie yesterday said it was too early to tell if that was so.

However, she and Mr Hockey were all smiles and concern as they visited storm-damaged sites in Burnie.

Later, after a private meeting, Senator Lambie said it had been a positive exercise.

"Personally, I didn't mind him," she said.

"I hope he's like that all the time.

"He wasn't down to hammer me about the budget or trying to get me to go against my own party.

"He was open to discussion on anything and everything."

This from a politician who has had harsh words for key figures in the government.

Among other things, she has labelled Prime Minister Tony Abbott "a political psychopath" and Employment Minister Eric Abetz a disgrace.

Senator Lambie said she and Mr Hockey had been trying to meet for some time, at his request.

She said he did not ask anything of her.

Rather, she spoke about her priorities, including continued opposition to the $7 GP co-payment.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and NSW Premier Mike Baird announce the start of works, funded by the Federal and State Government, on Narellan Road with a sod turning. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and NSW Premier Mike Baird announce the start of works, funded by the Federal and State Government, on Narellan Road with a sod turning. Picture: Jonathan Ng

They also discussed the planned axing of the schoolkids bonus, which the PUP wants to keep.

Senator Lambie suggested she was open to keeping it but imposing an income test, which would give the government some of its desired savings.

She said Mr Hockey was very interested in her ideas on introducing a type of national service, and she also raised the idea of the Commonwealth funding the state government so that it could slash payroll tax to give Tasmania a competitive advantage.

She said Bass Strait freight costs, power prices, agricultural expansion and the Commonwealth using Tasmania to trial ideas and programs were also discussed.

Senator Lambie said she didn't believe Mr Hockey fully understood Tasmania's economic situation.

The government will need PUP votes in the Senate to get many of its plans through, while the PUP will need Coalition votes to get much of its agenda passed.

Mr Hockey didn't speak to the media after the meeting.

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