His last big announcement was in New York in February, when he unveiled his grandiose plans to build Titanic II, an exact replica of the ill-fated liner, in China later this year.
Clive Palmer, the Queensland mining billionaire, told the assembled media “the Titanic was a ship of dreams, Titanic II will be the ship where dreams come true”. It would be set to sail in 2016.
Now Palmer, invariably described as “colourful”, “eccentric” or “controversial”, has another dream: to run for federal parliament in the upcoming election.
Clive for Canberra? Queensland’s mining billionaire to run in this year’s election. Pic via The Courier Mail.
Palmer told Tony Jones on ABC’s Lateline last night that he had re-formed the Uniting Australia Party, which governed Australia in the 1930s and was dissolved in 1945, and would run in a seat in Queensland.
“It’s a reformation of the original party which has had three prime ministers in our history, and is a shining example of where we should go,” Mr Palmer said of the party, which ran under Joseph Lyons, Robert Menzies, and Billy Hughes.
Palmer said “we need to take away the game from professional politicians who say the same things … it doesn’t matter if it’s Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard, they’ve got the same lobbyists influencing them, the same focus groups.”
Mr Palmer, who quit as a member of the LNP last year and has been threatening to set up his own part since, said the party would contest 127 seats in the lower house and all Senate seats.
The party would not be confined to Queensland, but would be nation-wide, and that he did not presume to know in which seat he would run. There were a number of high-profile Australians ready to join party and run also, he said. They would be announced next week.
So what does Clive Palmer stand for? He said the UAP would be “nearly identical to the Liberal Party, with a few variations.”
He identified five core ideas.
- “The first one is that we don’t believe our party officials should be lobbyists. Tony Abbott does. So if you want Tony Abbott’s policies and you want lobbyists, vote for Tony Abbott. But if you think that I do, we need to have better proprietary and not have lobbyist running the government, give us your vote.
- “Second one is that we think we should abolish the carbon tax, but not abolish it when Tony Abbott or the next parliament’s elected, but retrospectively. So we want people and unemployed people in the La Trobe Valley to get their jobs back, we want electricity prices to come down and we want this nation to be more competitive.”
- “Number three I guess is about refugees. We think it’s crazy to waste $5 billion a year sending the fleet up to block refugees and we think it’s crazy that people that haven’t got a visa can’t board a plane for $800, come to airports in Melbourne and if they’re not legitimate immigrants, be sent straight back on the next plane.
- “Number four is that we think we should take the mineral resources we’ve got in Queensland and in Western Australia and have Commonwealth incentives where we set up downstream processing in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, and rather than export our minerals at $100 a tonne, we get $1,500 a tonne, create more revenue, more jobs, more tax and more facilities.”
- “The fifth one of course is we do think that Australia needs to have a system where people who create wealth in various parts of the country, that some of it goes back to that part of the country. Sort of that if a region’s creating a certain amount of wealth, they can be sure that that’ll flow back into their community. So we really develop the whole country, not just Sydney and Melbourne, but right across Australia because that’s where the wealth is.”
When asked by Jones if he would take a tilt at Prime Ministership at some stage, Palmer replied: “Well, it’s up to the people to decide. As you know, the people of Australia elected me as a living national treasure and that was their choice, not mine. And I accepted that award out of my respect for their judgment, not really for myself.
“So, whatever way it goes, I think I’m prepared to do. I’m not frightened to put ideas up there which I think can make this country better. After all, it’s really crazy to think a person that’s never run anything more than a tuck shop can run a trillion-dollar economy.”
This morning on the Sunrise program Kevin Rudd called it “a last minute stunt,” while in his sign-off last night Tony Jones said Palmer “may have changed the nature of politics in Queensland… perhaps around the country.”
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