Clive Palmer afloat
Do we have to take this man seriously?
It is galling to say so but One Nation’s Mark Latham is probably right: it is hard to imagine Clive Palmer, who failed as both businessman and politician, getting re-elected to federal parliament next month, even if he does end up spending $80 million on advertising. This is Palmer, who hardly turned up when he was member for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, and whose party disintegrated in near record time as two of his three senators – Jacqui Lambie then Glenn Lazarus – deserted him. Palmer, who recently failed in a court bid to have criminal charges against him dropped, and who still owes hundreds of former employees at his busted Townsville nickel refinery some $7 million of entitlements. Palmer, whose policy to increase the aged pension by $150 per week would reportedly [$] blow a trillion-dollar hole in the budget. How could anyone take Palmer seriously for even a second, let alone vote for him?
The Australiandubbed [$] Palmer the “kingmaker” based on a Newspoll in four marginals seats, including Townsville-based Herbert where he was apparently polling 14 per cent. Latham told 2GB this week that it would be “foolhardy to react heavily to just one poll, and I think it’s unlikely that in the past three months there’s been a 6-per-cent swing to Clive Palmer in the marginal seat of Herbert”. As the Nine newspapers flagged this morning, Australia Institute polling suggests that the recent rise in support for Palmer’s United Australia Party “does not put them in position to win a Senate seat this time”.
Sadly, as a result of the LNP’s preference deal, which will see Palmer’s party ranked above Labor on how-to-vote cards for the both the House and the Senate, we now have to take the man seriously. Prime Minister Scott Morrison today batted away questions about doing a preference deal with someone who was “facing criminal charges and hasn’t paid his workers, and seems to be buying his way into parliament”. The PM responded that he would “let Clive Palmer speak for himself”, and stressed that the preference deal was a matter for the party. “When the parties have finalised what they’re doing with preferences, that will be clear next week. That’s a matter for once the parties have concluded any discussions they’re having, but I want to make something really clear – there are no policy elements to any discussions that have been had with minor parties. None whatsoever.”
Labor’s Penny Wong let rip at a press conference today, describing the preference deal as a “marriage of convenience between an ad man and a con man”. But Labor leader Bill Shorten, at the same presser, refused to rule out whether the ALP had held its own talks with Palmer, saying only that “there’ve been no formal negotiations”. Opposition frontbenchers Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke today both said that there had been no talks, but Palmer has gone on the record this afternoon to accuse Labor of lying, telling [$] The Australian that “I had Senator [Anthony] Chisholm approach me when I was down for the budget in parliament, he came over to see me. He called me on Wednesday, when he was with Bill Shorten, he said he’d been with Bill in central Queensland, and he said, ‘Is it too late to do preferences?’”
Palmer is not a fool, he just acts like one, with his failed dinosaur park at Coolum and his ridiculous Titanic II scheme. He didn’t even cough up the royalties for his campaign song, “We’re Not Gonna Take it”, prompting Twisted Singer’s lead singer Dee Snider to call him a “common criminal”. Despite Palmer’s lack of substance, his legacy in the federal parliament was not entirely malign. His senators were instrumental in blocking unpalatable aspects of the Abbott government’s horror 2014 budget, and, in a dramatic press conference with Al Gore, he saved the renewable energy target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA – which have proved linchpins of Australia’s climate response after the Abbott wrecking ball. But Palmer’s contemptuous treatment of his former employees is unforgiveable, and the fact that former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett today endorsed his “entrepreneurial spirit” only makes the prefernce deal more objectionable.
“A Shorten Labor Government will make preventing and responding to family violence a national priority. One woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner. Family violence hurts children and ripples through generations. This must change.”
“Yeah, that’s likely to raise questions about rushed decision and all that stuff ... The timing was such that all of [the assessment] was completed to allow her to sign off before the election. I think it’s quite appropriate and I think the Minster would want to sign off on projects on her plate before she goes to an election. I think it’s good housekeeping.”
“Reinvest the private health insurance rebate into public healthcare; clear public hospital surgery waiting lists, and invest in our public hospitals; create a single funding agency to end cost shifting once and for all; implement team based healthcare for people with chronic conditions; provide Medicare funded dental care.”
“As in any good road novel, there’s more than one reason for this journey: her husband wants to collect material on the ghosts of Geronimo and the last Apaches, and she has promised to help a Mixtecan woman whose daughters are detained somewhere in Texas. These lost girls are just two of the migrant children who drift, spectrally, throughout the novel.”
“In his first major speech as prime minister, Scott Morrison pointed to his heart and told Australians that ‘I’ve come to talk to you today about what’s in here’. Striding the Albury stage, calling for people to love each other and pray for rain, Morrison looked like the Pentecostal pastor he might have become if his father had not counselled against studying at a Canadian Bible college after university. But the truth is that Morrison has told the Australian public almost nothing about what his heartfelt beliefs actually are.”
“Rupert Murdoch is friendly with many world leaders, but the octogenarian media baron has always wanted to be close to an American president. Now he is. According to a former Fox executive, Murdoch talks on the phone to Donald Trump so frequently there are sometimes multiple calls a day.”
Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?
It is galling to say so but One Nation’s Mark Latham is probably right: it is hard to imagine Clive Palmer, who failed as both businessman and politician, getting re-elected to federal parliament next month, even if he does end up spending $80 million on advertising. This is Palmer, who hardly turned up when he was member for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, and whose party disintegrated in near record time as two of his three senators – Jacqui Lambie then Glenn Lazarus – deserted him. Palmer, who recently failed in a court bid to have criminal charges against him dropped, and who still owes hundreds of former employees at his...