Clive Palmer And His Gang Of One In Queensland

IN VEGAS (that’s BrisVegas) they do things differently; every disgruntled conservative with a hint of notoriety or a bucket of cash storms out of the Coalition tent — determined to bite the hand that fed it — and sets up their own party; in the end, it falls apart under the weight of acrimony, recriminations, and macho posturing. Pauline Hanson and Bob Katter Jr trod this path. Now, quite literally, Clive Palmer is left with a Gang of One in Queensland.

It’s one hell of an operation Clive Palmer is running up in Queensland.

Sometimes it is tempting to be a little smug when proven right; just over a year ago — with defections of two (2) of the less loyal MPs from Campbell Newman’s LNP party room in hand — Clive Palmer was lavishing praise on his newly anointed “leader” in Queensland, the patently contemptible Dr Alex Douglas; I said at the time that Palmer was trying to sell Queenslanders a pup, and that any belief in the propaganda that suggested the insipid Douglas would be “the next Premier of Queensland” was delusional.

Today, Douglas has stomped out of the Palmer United Party; apparently making a stand on principle, it seems that Douglas has his nose out of joint because Palmer has been out recruiting state election candidates without giving Douglas the input or the clear deference to which he obviously thinks himself entitled.

Saying he had been “reliably informed” that a list of candidates was to be published on the PUP website — without his knowledge — Douglas threw a hissy fit, declaring that he doesn’t support “jobs for the boys.”

To find this naive enough is one thing; after all, Palmer makes no attempt to hide the direct control he wields over his MPs, all of whom were hand-picked: a former employee here, a sporting hero there. If the pompous Douglas really thought he had any levity or control over the edifice Palmer is building and funding from his own pocket it shows just how delusional he is.

Now, the Palmer United Party in Queensland has a new leader; what was comprised of two (2) LNP turncoats is now comprised of one; and this Gang of One — Yeerongpilly MP Carl Judge — has today been “appointed” by the Palmer United Party “executive” to be its “new Parliamentary leader” in Queensland.

Like it had much choice.

All of this begins to get murky with a glance at Palmer’s feed on Twitter, where he suggested the reason for Douglas’ departure derived from the fact that Bob Katter was Douglas’ uncle; according to this nepotistic little theory, Douglas had wanted Palmer’s party to merge with the remnants of Katter’s, and stormed out when Palmer refused to entertain the idea.

Douglas, for his part, released a statement this afternoon; in a ridiculous and banal attempt to channel former US President Lyndon Johnson, he said of the candidate list that “I cannot support, nor will I endorse, actions taken that defeat principles that I adhere strongly to.”

It’s heady stuff, especially coming from a serial turncoat who has now deserted two political parties in less than two years, treating the voters in his electorate of Gaven with utter contempt.

Not to be outdone, Judge — who is deserting the voters in his own precariously-held seat, preferring to try to take out Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie in his safe Sunshine Coast seat than to risk near-certain defeat by Labor — is now taking his turn at the master’s feet, with Palmer feting him with faint praise and…well, and bullshit.

“Carl Judge has a strong commitment to Queensland and he has the character to lead the party to confront the many challenges the state now faces,” Palmer claimed.

And awfully good of Judge to be so benevolently disposed toward Queenslanders it is.

No amount of Bjelke-Petersen-style rhetoric will change the fact that Judge wasn’t a team player at the LNP, is unlikely to prove any different at the PUP, and — like Douglas — has treated voters in his own electorate like a bit of used toilet paper; if his “commitment” was worth a pinch of the proverbial, he wouldn’t be running out on them to try to steal a safer electorate 120km away.

Then again, Palmer himself was kicking around the National Party at the time disgraced former minister Brian Austin was moved to a safe National Sunshine Coast electorate when his seat of Wavell in Brisbane was abolished, so no doubt PUP is just following “precedent.”

And in the grand old tradition of “don’t you worry about that, we’re taking care of things,” Palmer has also announced that his party will continue to unveil candidates for the looming state election in Queensland: the business of the Palmer Party goes on, and there’s nothing to see here. People should be reassured, heartened, and becalmed.

So there it is: Clive Palmer and his Gang of One, a prince of turncoats and traitors, will become the next Premier of Queensland; having sold out his party and his electorate, Carl Judge now asks — on behalf of Clive Palmer — for the trust and the votes of Queenslanders.

They do things differently, up in BrisVegas; perhaps it’s time for Queenslanders to break the mould, and to vote Palmer and his band of merry men man out of political existence.

What an absolute farce. When it comes to Palmer and his vindictive, unprofessional party, however, today’s developments follow what is fast becoming a depressingly familiar storyline.

 

Memo Queenslanders: If Douglas Becomes Premier, Get Out Of Queensland

IT’S A DELUSION that keeps giving; fresh from the announcement his party will win 100 seats at the coming federal election, Clive Palmer’s state leader in Queensland says it’s a “realistic probability” he’ll be its next Premier. Should it eventuate, I have one word of advice for Queenslanders: leave.

I have read with interest this afternoon a story that has appeared on News Ltd sites across the country, in which ex-National-cum-LNP turncoat Alex Douglas claims he’ll be the next Premier of Queensland.

This story is of interest to me as an ex-Queenslander as much as for its value as a political news item in its own right, and sends a shudder down my spine on both counts.

Douglas — had the former Queensland Division of the Liberal Party had any cojones when divvying up seats with the former National Party — wouldn’t even be in Parliament.

Gaven is a classic example of the kind of urban south-east Queensland electorate that may have been fertile ground for the National Party 30 years ago, but not now; but so were many such electorates in Queensland in the days before the merged LNP came into existence, and it’s unsurprising that not only did the National Party ever win more than a couple of them, the presence of their candidates also assisted Labor candidates in other seats to beat their coalition counterparts.

A “Coalition candidate” at a by-election in the seat of Gaven in April 2006, Douglas was narrowly elected, only to lose the seat at the election later that year; he won it back by a tiny margin in 2009, and was re-elected last year in the tidal wave that carried all bar 11 of the LNP’s 88 candidates into Parliament: hardly a personal endorsement.

Even so, re-election by a 70-30 margin appears to have given Douglas delusions of grandeur; certainly it is difficult to believe that he would have behaved the same way after last year’s election had he retained his seat in another knife-edged contest.

And that behaviour has included stomping out of the LNP in high dudgeon; the lowly backbencher Douglas — who refused to acknowledge his place — had been removed as the head of a parliamentary committee; this followed his wife countersigning a complaint to the LNP that sought to have Treasurer Tim Nicholls sacked from the ministry.

Perhaps because it was Palmer who was the other complainant, Douglas felt he was on safe ground. But as a direct result of the former National Party’s past, the LNP cannot even be perceived as operating under the slightest hint of the appearance of the constraint of a conflict of interest.

This is why the LNP was set to bite the hand that fed it — Palmer and his seven-figure donations — until Palmer stomped out of the LNP as well.

Now we have an utterly delusional political party whose lofty ambitions know no bounds, but which is entirely innocent of any grounding in political reality.

I have opined previously that Palmer has no core constituency; no obvious bloc of voters — based on geography or on demographics or anything else — is lining up in a “Draft Clive” movement to sweep the billionaire, and his associates, into Parliament.

It seems nobody else wants to, either; thus far several reputable opinion polls have been conducted federally on voting intention, and none have registered any support for the Palmer Party whatsoever.

And I say the “Palmer Party” because that’s what it is: Clive Palmer’s vehicle to win power.

It is true that this party was to be called, rather misleadingly, the “United Australia Party,” a plan that had to be abandoned because of its similarity to the name of another party already registered with the Australian Electoral Commission.

But the replacement name belies the fact that uniting anyone (except behind Palmer personally) was never the objective of such a party in the first place.

If anyone doubts this, they should head up to Coolum (yes, in Queensland) to what was once the Hyatt Regency Coolum Resort; it is now Palmer Coolum Resort after the mining baron purchased it a couple of years ago.

They should observe the huge dinosaur adorning one of the greens on the golf course at the resort — perhaps before sampling the “fantastic food” at “Palmer Grill” offered by ubiquitous signs all over the place.

So let’s not mince any words over exactly what motivates “Palmer United Party” — or PUP as we will call it — an entity anyone in their right minds would vote for at their peril.

A check of PUP’s website quickly validates any doubt of the party’s bona fides as a mainstream outfit as opposed to the rickety vehicle for the moneyed and disgruntled.

“Australian Children Should Live,” reads the header on a press release that says the first act of a Palmer PUP government will make Australia’s woeful indigenous infant mortality rate its first priority — without a single word outlining how, or indeed what it would do to address the issue.

PUP opposes, according to its media releases, both cuts in government spending and raised taxes; it simply claims “the only way forward…is to elect a Palmer United Party government…and unite all Australians.” It is unclear how PUP proposes to fix the federal budget through this approach, apart from “uniting” everyone.

And there is a strong “get the Liberals” flavour to what appears on the PUP site; this time last year Palmer was all for Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott; now, the LNP is a bunch of crooks* and Tony Abbott is no better than Julia Gillard, according to his site.

Now, Palmer’s protegé in Alex Douglas thinks he’s going to be Premier of Queensland.

Never mind the delusional objectives of the Palmer United Party.

Never mind the unreasoning and unrealistic estimates it makes of its own support.

Never mind the fact it had to have two goes at its registration as a party.

Never mind the total absence of policy, except a “we hate everyone” approach to competitors, and a distinct suggestion of hunger for revenge against the LNP.

Never mind the fact that Douglas — a parliamentary midget of absolutely no significance whatsoever to the governance of Queensland, or to politics generally, south and west of its borders — appears to believe his own propaganda, or the sizeable chip on his shoulder that accompanies it.

The simple fact is that based on present indicators, PUP is unlikely to win a seat anywhere, let alone form a government in any jurisdiction in Australia, be it as a majority, minority, in coalition with someone or any other permutation.

Clive Palmer is a brilliant businessman and respect is owed on that account, but this column questions the wisdom of the political enterprise he has embarked upon, and the available published pretexts that have thus far been offered in justification of it.

Especially when it attracts the likes of Douglas.

The advice from this column — in the unlikely event he ever became Premier of Queensland — to that state’s residents is very simple.

Leave.

I think the PUP’s prospects are bleak but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be held accountable to the type of ridiculous nonsense offered up this afternoon.

Simply stated, Alex Douglas — and Clive Palmer — are trying to sell Queenslanders a pup.

*according to Palmer before he resigned from the LNP.