It must be great to be rich and able to do anything you want, even start your own political party. As owner of Mineralogy, Clive Palmer has iron ore, nickel and coal holdings and his net worth in January 2012 was estimated by Forbes to be $US795 million.
He wants to be Prime Minister and has put out some very juicy carrots to tease the electorate. His new political party - the Palmer United Party (PUP) has promised to cut taxes, increase the pension and boost health spending.
Last week Mr Palmer dropped a bombshell. He said that in April 2012, LNP candidate Mal Brough asked him to fund a sexual harassment case lawsuit against Peter Slipper that would destroy his career. "Mal Brough said it was important for the Liberal Party to win the seat of Fisher" he said.
Mal Brough said it's not true. "This is an event that occurred 17 months ago and now two weeks from polling day, Mr Palmer comes forward." But he didn't deny the meeting.
Federal Court Judge Steven Rares said in December 2012 that the main purpose of the sexual harassment suit was to "pursue a political attack against Mr Slipper" and he dismissed the case.
Clive Palmer wants Mal Brough to stand down and if he doesn't, he's called on Tony Abbott to disendorse him, a move that's highly unlikely.
Mal Brough is a queer fish. Journalist Malcolm Farr gave us an interesting insight into his character a few months back. He relates an incident that happened back in 2001 when he was umpire at a social cricket match in Canberra between the pollies and the press gallery. Brough came into bat confidently and started well but when the ball from Mark Ludlow hit his pads right in front of the stumps, there was a shout from the wicket keeper and others and Farr called him out. He writes:
He stormed off the ground in a loud fury, suggesting there was a plot to get him off the pitch. He threw his bat and pads to the ground and demanded his wife follow him to the car. He took off in that car at high speed, leaving behind stunned team mates and opponents. Some 30 minutes later he and his wife returned. Brough made an announcement to the spectators which was so extraordinary, it can't be repeated here. He then set about heckling the umpire - me. He did it in such an unacceptable fashion, that Ian Causley, an old-school gentleman and National Party MP apologised to my wife who had to listen to it all. It was a remarkable display of self-indulgence, bad temper and contempt for the social occasion.
Peter Slipper is making a valiant show of bravado by standing again in the Queensland seat of Fisher but it's unlikely he will win after his lewd text messages about female body parts were released, so Brough should romp home easily.
But getting back to Clive Palmer's political party, what he's saying, is what we want to hear, it's almost too good to be true and probably is. "Government wants to cut government expenditure, shrink the economy to the size of a pea and Rudd wants to join Abbott, and together they both want to tax us to oblivion" he said. But there's more. He'll cut income tax, abolish the fringe benefits tax and halve the tax rate paid on second jobs.
"From July 1 2014 Palmer United will reduce personal income tax by 15 per cent for all Australians" he said."This will mean the average Australian taxpayer will have around $2,500 extra in his pocket every year."
And here's the juiciest carrot of all - his party will provide pensioners with an extra $150 each fortnight, and inject $80 billion into the federal health budget. "Palmer United will provide an additional $80 billion for health across Australia .... and will make such funds available directly to hospitals, not through Campbell Newman or state governments."
The party has nominated candidates in all House of Reps seats. It will be interesting to see how he goes.