Lazarus tells Pyne: stop texting me

It’s the kind of message you send to an ex: stop texting, I’m not interested.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s flood of text messages to Glenn Lazarus hasn’t won over the Palmer United Party senator to support the government’s higher education reforms.

In fact, it may have done more harm than good.

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“Christopher Pyne is embarrassing himself and needs to stop harassing me and other crossbenchers,” the Queensland senator said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I am being inundated with text messages from Christopher Pyne virtually begging me to support the Abbott government’s higher education reforms.”

Senator Lazarus says he can’t be bought, isn’t prepared to horse trade and PUP will vote down the reforms.

CPyne_1And he points out he never gave Mr Pyne his phone number.

His statement likely spells the death of the higher education reforms.

The government needs support from six of the eight cross bench senators since Labor and the Greens are steadfast in their opposition.

But with independent Jacqui Lambie also against university deregulation, it looks like they won’t get the numbers.

“Someone go and take Christopher Pyne a box of Kleenex – it is all over for him,” Senator Lambie told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, debate on the legislation has resumed in the Senate.

Lobbyists for and against the changes have been stalking parliament’s corridors trying to shore up votes.

A dozen students took their case directly to the chamber, shouting “No cuts, no fees, no corporate universities” from the Senate gallery until security forcibly removed them.

The government insists it wants a vote this week.

That move has put independent senator Nick Xenophon off side – he wants to wait until February to vote.

He’s worried about having enough time to scrutinise concessions Mr Pyne has made to other crossbenchers to dump plans to increase interest rates on student debts.

The government has also agreed to freeze interest charges on debts while new parents take time out to raise children.

These concessions appear to have secured the votes of Family First’s Bob Day and independent John Madigan. But Senator Madigan says any vote predictions are just crystal ball gazing.

As things stood on Monday evening, he thought it would fail.

“But who knows in this place?” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“Things shift very quickly sometimes and then other times things are very, very slow.”

While Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm will support the changes, he is critical of the government’s negotiating process.

“They’re hopeless at convincing me to vote for their legislation,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Motoring Enthusiasts Party Ricky Muir is keeping quiet on the matter.

He was pursued by a media pack on Tuesday but has flat out refused to answer any questions about his stance on higher education.


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