Twirling towards freedom

Big Clive's big dinosaurs

This week, Clive Palmer received approval to create another expensive tribute to a mid-90s blockbuster film he apparently hasn’t seen the ending to. This time, the billionaire is building the world’s largest dinosaur park. The Sunshine Coast regional council unanimously approved the plans to add 149 life-size dinosaur models to the grounds of Palmer’s Coolum resort, where they’ll be in the fine company of an eight metre tall T-Rex named Jeff and, obviously, a vintage car museum.

Councillor Jason O’Pray, who previously described the proposal as “classy” has revised his initial assessment and said that a more appropriate word for the 160 life-size dinosaur theme park is “subtle.”

“Classy is probably a poor choice of words,” O’Pray elaborated, “it’s very much about the family. These animals are soft – I was lucky, I got to touch them, I got to feel them.”

O’Pray is lucky to have Clive Palmer, and the rest of Australia is too. While the rest of the world wonders whether all this is happening because we simply don’t have access to Netflix, at home, as Palmer slips further into a fantastic world of his own creation, he accidentally provides a refreshing dose of reality. In an era where politicians are ever mindful of public perception, Palmer has gone in the opposite direction. He’s above trivial concerns, such as worrying whether the symbolic association with a big, fake dinosaur and a big, doomed ship will adversely impact his political career.

This month alone, Palmer has treated us to such a terrific variety of performances that we can only conclude he simply does not care what we think of him. He’s been banned from flying out of Brisbane Airport after throwing a tantrum and refusing a full body scan. He terminated a radio interview by hanging up on the interviewer when he couldn’t remember his own candidate’s name. And as revealed by The Australian today, he appears to have bought his illustrious appointment as Joint Secretary General of the World Leadership Alliance. Palmer seems to be so determinedly out of step with the rest of politics. But when I stop to think about it, a blustering, slightly demented wealthy weirdo is an apt a figurehead for Australia as any. It’s refreshing, really.

As almost every other politician seems increasingly willing to concede the moral high ground in order to inch up in the polls, Big Clive will be there to buy up that land, and maybe put a golf course on it. Palmer will provide a rare opportunity at the poll booths later this year. Instead of having to make the best bad decision possible, voters may, if they wish, cast the voting equivalent of a shrug. ‘Don’t blame me,’ they’ll be able to say. ‘I voted for Clive.’ 

Michaela McGuire

Michaela McGuire is a journalist and the author of Last Bets: A True Story of Gambling, Morality and the Law and the Penguin Special A Story of Grief. Visit her blog, Twirling Towards Freedom.


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