End Of An Error: Clive Palmer Quits Parliament

AN UNMITIGATED FARCE unworthy of even a single vote has ended, with news Clive Palmer will contest neither a Queensland Senate seat nor his electorate of Fairfax; too gutless to face his incensed constituents — who will now be denied their opportunity to boot his voluble arse onto the pavement — Palmer leaves Canberra having arguably helped destroy a state government, a Prime Minister, and to help facilitate the return of the ALP to office.

And so it ends, that which should never have started.

The unmitigated farce that was the Palmer United Party — with Clive Palmer, who was going to win 100 lower house seats and become Prime Minister in “a revolution” — came to an end with a whimper rather than a bang today, with the not-unexpected news that not only was Palmer wimping out of facing the wrath of the voters he walked all over in the seat of Fairfax, but that he couldn’t even be bothered trying to take the cheat’s route back to Canberra by trying to secure a Senate berth.

There’s a good reason for that. Palmer would be lucky now not to be eliminated in the early rounds of any Senate count.

First things first: depending on preference, readers can peruse the Fairfax or Murdoch press attached to this afternoon’s news.

This column — right from the outset — was scathing of Clive Palmer and his egomaniacal pretensions to the Prime Ministership; an unsuitable candidate — for anything, if we’re honest about it — Palmer’s alleged mass uprising turned out to be small-scale but politically toxic incursion into three Senate seats, and a single House of Representatives electorate by 53 votes after preferences off the back of just 26% of the primary vote, at the 2013 election.

It was as good as it got for the self-styled billionaire and mining baron.

As far back as April 2013 — more than three years ago — we called out the “popular revolution” Palmer claimed to embody for what it was: an unabashed, arrogant pantomime, shamelessly aimed at personal advancement and the settling of not-so-old scores, with the delusional insistence he would become Prime Minister paling into insignificance beside the very real prospect he would find some way to kill off Campbell Newman in Queensland, Tony Abbott in Canberra, or both.

At root, the sole discernible pretext for Palmer’s political aspirations — aside from megalomania — was the fact that having donated millions of dollars to the Queensland Division of the National Party (and later the LNP), Palmer found the Newman government singularly unwilling to do whatever he wanted: planning approvals, land zoning decisions, favourable tax treatment, the whole box and dice.

With astonishing chutzpah (and notwithstanding the very sensitive antenna post-Bjelke-Petersen Queenslanders retain for anything with so much as a whiff of corrupt behaviour about it, even now), Palmer launched into a savage diatribe against Newman, all but accusing him of corrupt misconduct, accusing then-Treasurer Tim Nicholls of having “cooked the books,” and labelling the LNP a “bunch of crooks.”

There obviously wasn’t a mirror handy that day.

And of course, somewhere along the way, Tony Abbott and the federal Coalition became just as hated in Palmer’s eyes as Newman and the Queensland LNP; a cynic might say it was at the intersection between a massive ego and the need to retain votes, and the fact that offering to sluice huge amounts of cash around as the price for allowing legislation to pass the Senate might help curry empty but populist favour with the “battlers” for whose situation in life he had thitherto exhibited scant regard.

The balance of power in the Senate — which is what his bloc of three votes, in practice, amounted to — was used to no better ends than to cripple the Abbott government.

It is a point of record that I have criticised the 2014 budget as loudly as anyone, so misguided and poorly managed as it was.

But with Labor and the Communist Party Greens blocking everything in sight, it was Palmer’s votes that tipped the balance: and invariably, it was to vote unpopular measures down to make himself look like a champion of the oppressed. On at least one occasion — the repeal of the mining tax — he allowed the measure to pass, but only after insisting on billions of dollars in spending that ensured that far from helping fix the state of the Commonwealth budget, the abolition of the mining tax actually worsened it.

Palmer stands condemned for a distinct lack of judgement in ensuring the election of imbecilic Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie by throwing large sums of cash into her campaign; Lambie — probably the stupidest individual ever elected to any Australian Parliament — has made Parliament and Australia a laughing stock, with her childish prattle about chasing rich men with big dicks, or her excruciating distinction between “Chinese” and “Communist Chinese,” and who advocated some kind of nuclear strike against the latter contingent.

Lambie, unbelievably, stands a good chance of surviving the imminent double dissolution, and if she does, it will be a permanent indictment on Palmer for enabling the moron to get anywhere near the Senate in the first place.

More recent times have seen Palmer pick — and lose — legal fights with an array if institutions and identities, not least his state-backed business partners in China; for those who always knew what Palmer was like and/or could see straight through the wafting cloud of bullshit he tried to cloak his “people’s party” in, it was a deeply satisfying process to watch as court loss followed court loss, and the 68-zip record of success in lawsuits Palmer used to boast about was obliterated.

I’m reliably told that the only real difference between the Clive Palmer who was a Young Liberals member in Brisbane in the 1970s and the Palmer of just a few years ago is the fact that his business success meant that he was actually able to make good on the threats to sue anyone who pissed him off that were commonly made even as a teenager.

It’s a telling insight.

The idea of a full-scale replica of the Titanic — built in China and escorted into harbour in the USA by a Chinese submarine — was laughable beyond belief, and it goes without saying that there will never be a second sinking of the Titanic because there will never be a Titanic to sink.

But there has been nothing to laugh about as his business empire crumbles, killing off jobs and family livelihoods with it: first his resort at Coolum, in his electorate, and lately the Queensland Nickel refinery in North Queensland, the spectacle of hundreds of jobs being lost is of far more concern than listening to Palmer whinge in the press about his declining business fortunes.

In the end, nobody is going to miss Palmer when he vacates the national political complex on 2 July.

Except, perhaps, Bill Shorten, whose Labor Party is arguably the sole beneficiary of the antics of Palmer and his eponymous party; even though the 2014 budget was a political obscenity of the most unbelievably grotesque proportions, it is impossible to believe that even the misfiring Abbott government could have been hauled to the brink of defeat over it were it not for the tactics employed against it in the Senate by Palmer and his cohorts.

The fact the budget itself was deeply flawed does not automatically make Palmer’s actions right, but if Bill Shorten wins the election on 2 July, Palmer will be able to take a fair share of the credit for it — and this is an indictment on an individual who claimed he was starting his own party to promote the “true” virtues of Australian conservatism.

I feel very sorry for voters in Palmer’s seat of Fairfax; they have paid a heavy price for his purported advocacy on their behalf, and their communities are poorer for his continued presence in them. The Coolum resort was once a major community hub, a driver of economic activity in the region, and a provider of hundreds of jobs. Now it is as good as defunct. It seems an indicative metaphor for the trail of scorched Earth that seems to follow Palmer wherever he goes.

Electors in Fairfax deserve the opportunity to piss all over their rotund parasite of an MP from a great height, and to propel his sizeable arse across the pavement and into the gutter: so ungracious is Palmer, and so utterly self-serving, that he hasn’t even got the decency to face the music and allow them to pass judgement upon him.

Australian politics has seen its share of self-important hero figures — consumed by hallucinatory visions of their own grandeur, and fortified by the sheer gall to suggest people actually like or even love them — who are almost without exception the worst kind of people anyone could find to entrust with the mandate of acting on their behalf.

In this sense, Palmer isn’t the first — and regrettably, he won’t be the last. Even as I write, Lambie is sitting in Tasmania somewhere quietly congratulating herself on what a legend she is in her own mind.

But Palmer leaves public life with no discernible achievements, no track record of making the lives of the ordinary folk he was charged with serving any better, and nothing for which he will be remembered fondly or, indeed, remembered at all.

Nothing, that is, except the abuse of power implicit in seeking elected office to further his own business interests, and to destroy those who refused to do it — improperly, indecently, or even corruptly — on his behalf.

It is a sick and sorry record of “achievement” by a leech whose chief conviction seems to have been that a little money entitled him to whatever he wanted, and that the refusal of others to capitulate to his demands merely legitimised his abuse of that power in seeking to destroy them personally, politically, and with malice.

Vale, Clive Palmer — Prime Minister of nothing.

Good riddance.

 

Tantrum Of The Entitled: Support-Free Senators Lash Out

AS SIGNS the Turnbull government will call a double dissolution election grow clearer, a co-ordinated revolt by self-interested crossbench Senators is looming; masquerading as “principle,” the argument of the crossbenchers has less to do with “small parties” than it does with the termination of their ability to be “elected” with next to no electoral support. Left or Right, there is a difference between “small parties” and an undemocratic rort.

The question is a rhetorical one, but it nonetheless goes to the heart of Senate reforms being developed by the Coalition: on what planet can any candidate with 3.8% of the primary vote be expected to win an election, let alone justify their position on the strength of such minuscule support?

Family First Senator Bob Day obviously believes Australia should be such a place, for not only was he elected with exactly that share of the Senate vote in South Australia in 2013, but he appears to be using it as a pretext to join an unedifying tantrum being thrown by the crossbench scourge that has infected the proportionally elected upper house, and which I believe merely underlines the case for its removal by abolishing the rort that makes its existence possible in the first place.

The Fairfax press yesterday published a piece that outlined a co-ordinated threat by virtually support-free crossbench Senators to run candidates in key marginal Coalition seats in the lower house to direct preferences to Labor if reforms to abolish Group Ticket Voting (GTV) and introduce Optional Preferential Voting (OPV) to the Senate are legislated, and aside from initially thinking people ought to grow up — for the tantrum being thrown by the disgruntled Senators is exactly that: a tantrum — the obvious response is that if these people weren’t drawing salaries at taxpayer expense of close to $200,000 per annum, they probably wouldn’t even care.

We spoke about this on Wednesday, noting that had the Hawke government not rigged the Senate in 1984 in the first place — partly for legitimate constitutional reasons connected to the need to increase the size of the lower house, but also expressly to try to fix it so a 1975-style situation could never again befall a Labor government — then Day and others sitting with him would probably never have been able to be “elected” at all.

It doesn’t matter to me that Day is mostly friendly to the government — ex-member of the Liberal Party as he is — or that Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm mostly makes a reasonable contribution: in the case of the latter, the 9.5% of the vote he scored was almost certainly the combined result of a) drawing the donkey vote position at the far left-hand side of the NSW Senate ballot paper, and b) getting away with registering a party name so similar to the Liberal Party (which was ascendant in NSW at the last election); the Liberal Democrats’ NSW vote was almost three times its best result in any other state, and that party polled just 363 votes (0.1%) in Victoria, 0.7% in Queensland, and didn’t even bother with the ACT or the NT.

It’s impossible to look on Leyonhjelm’s 9.5% in NSW, having regard to the lack of votes or even candidates in some states, and claim his election heralded the arrival of libertarianism as a mass movement in its own right. His tally was boosted, to say the least, by factors that had nothing to do with any appeal of his party.

In Day’s case, friendly to the Coalition or not, the idea 3.8% of the vote in a state boasting just 7.6% of Australia’s total electoral enrolment gives him the right to advocate for the retention of what can only be described as an abuse of democracy at the expense of any proper application of democratic principles — even proportional election systems, which I vehemently object to — is unfathomable.

At least Labor is honest enough to say it’s opposing Senate reform because it thinks it would cost it any chance of garnering a Senate majority without relying on Greens support, although as I pointed out on Wednesday Labor’s loss of 20% of its bedrock in recent years to the Greens is nobody’s fault but its own; in any case, Labor is wrong — and unless it finds a way to bolt most of the support that now underpins the Greens as a third force in Parliament back onto its own pile, it will never control the Senate outright: irrespective of whether the Coalition’s proposed changes are passed or not.

According to Fairfax, a ragtag assortment that includes Day, Leyonhjelm, and an alliance of (otherwise unspecified) minor parties has drawn up a hit list comprising 16 marginal Liberal seats across Australia in which even the “right-leaning micro parties” among them will direct preferences to the ALP “in retaliation” if the Coalition’s changes are passed by the Senate.

Leyonhjelm — blissfully oblivious to the fact that running dummy candidates all over the place is also tantamount to an attempt to rig an election — is quoted as saying the group will run “as many candidates as possible” in its quest to deliver the 16 seats to Labor and, presumably based on the numbers, the government’s majority with them.

And this comes against the hard socialists of the Greens and the left-wing (but sane) Independent Nick Xenophon apparently ready to support those changes in the interests of sound governance. It isn’t often that I agree with the Greens (if ever), but on  this issue they are absolutely correct.

For good measure, whoever runs the Family First Twitter feed has been interacting with me today after I retweeted the following table of figures showing how often the Senate crossbench has voted with the government between July 2014 and March last year…

FRIENDS OF THE LIBERALS…apparently, this shows why Family First deserves a seat in the Senate with 3.8% support among 7.6% of the Australian voting public. (Source: Family First)

…and when I retweeted that table with the caption that “these figures would be more meaningful if they included all of 2015…” Family First sent me a response that said “We agree Yale, and will post the updated stats on our website as soon as they are collated. Don’t expect any surprises.”

That “update” appears below: and despite my request for a source or some kind of reference, none was forthcoming.

WRONG CALL…How could the Coalition deal with the Greens, when “friends” like Family First and the Liberal Democrats may cop it in the neck? Principle and sycophancy are not the same thing. (Source: Family First)

On the assumption the second table is meant to be reflective of Senate voting between Senators elected in 2013 taking their places in July 2014 and the present, it delivers no surprises whatsoever (as Family First had promised, perhaps seeking to build my expectations as it was busy “collating” them).

But whilst it’s really gratifying that Day and Leyonhjelm can point to a friendly record toward the government — and whilst I actually think both of them have been reasonable performers as effectively independent voices in the Senate — this is beside the point.

Whichever way you cut it, the duo — and other, unnamed minor party forces — have seen fit to embark on a vindictive lower house preference strategy that whether they like it or not is explicitly contrived to seek the election of a Labor government, and of Bill Shorten as Prime Minister; and should that scenario — a nightmare proposition on current configurations that far transcends any partisan allegiance — then Day, Leyonhjelm and their mates would forever be held directly responsible for inflicting such a disastrous outcome on Australia.

A Shorten Labor government would make Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan seem veritable pillars of competence by comparison: it would be that bad.

Now let’s cut through the bullshit for a moment.

The Coalition’s Senate changes are not about who has shown loyalty to whom.

They are not about who, depending on your political ideas, is “good” or “bad.”

They are not about who is a good bloke, or who (in the case of Jacqui Lambie) is a fruit cake unfit to sit in any Parliament in Australia.

And they are not about the merits or otherwise of the respective platforms of any of the minor parties on the crossbench.

Very simply, the Coalition’s proposed reforms are about the preservation of democracy, not the trashing of it; and they are aimed at resuscitating the principle where the Senate is concerned that even at a proportional election, some reasonable stipend of direct (primary vote) support must first be achieved.

I have said many times in this column that I don’t think a candidate or Senate ticket with less than 5% of the primary vote should be eligible to be elected; the Coalition’s reforms don’t even go as far as to impose such a threshold. Yet if they did, they would be no different to proportional electoral systems in New Zealand, or Germany, or other major democracies who utilise proportional voting in their systems of governance. There would be nothing unreasonable and/or undemocratic about a qualifying threshold of 5% of the vote to enter the Senate. And only the most desperately self-obsessed (or in Labor’s case, desperate to wreck its way into government) would suggest otherwise.

To be honest, I would have no problem — all things being equal — were Day to be readmitted to the Liberal Party and given the winnable third spot on the party’s 2019 South Australian Senate ticket, or fifth or sixth this year if a double dissolution is called; I do in fact like Bob Day and have a lot of time for him, and with considerable overlap between our party’s platform and his own, I think he would make an excellent contribution as a conservative Liberal. This, of course, is scarcely the point.

But as a candidate for Family First?

If he can put together enough of the primary vote under the reformed Senate voting process — if the changes are passed — then I wish him good luck.

And to be sure, there are worse atrocities committed against the electoral system than Bob Day’s election with 3.8% of the vote in South Australia: Ricky Muir, with his 0.51% of the vote in Victoria, merely proves beyond contest the point I am making.

Day and Leyonhjelm might point to reasonably supportive voting records where the government is concerned, and say, “what have we done to deserve this?” whereas Lambie, fellow former Palmer stooge Glenn Lazarus, and even Nick Xenophon (who supports the reforms) might inspect their mostly ALP-inclined voting histories and conclude, incorrectly, that “this is aimed at us.” When considered in this manner, the Coalition is both damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

The Greens, who predictably vote with the Coalition in the Senate less than anyone, are almost co-sponsors of the changes.

It all comes back to what I have always said: there is no entitlement to a seat in Parliament just because you think you should have one; and rather than persisting with a dumbed-down Senate election system that lowers the bar to scoop up candidates with less and less (and in some cases, virtually no) public support, candidates from minor parties should get out and earn more votes, not simply demand what they think they should have.

The system that allows the current Senate crossbench to survive, thrive and — unless changed — allow others to sully that august chamber in future with negligible support is an undemocratic outrage and an obscenity.

For its occupants to embark on the petulant plan for reprisals Day and Leyonhjelm seem committed to embark upon is not principled, is unlikely to produce constructive outcomes, and invites — with complete justification — the criticism that all they care about is their continued ability to draw a cheque each month from the taxpayer, when (the peculiarities of Leyonhjelm’s own election aside) they have done nothing, including garnering sufficient votes, to merit or warrant the expense.

 

Gang Of One: The Divisive “Core Beliefs” Of Jacqui Lambie’s Party

POSSIBLY THE STUPIDEST PERSON ever elected to an Australian Parliament — mercenary Senator Jacqui Lambie — has chosen to emulate other deluded pathology cases, and to start an eponymous political party; said to be built on “core beliefs,” the Jacqui Lambie Network aspires to advance a narrow, contradictory, divisive agenda. Its sole beneficiary will be her public profile. Where principle is concerned, it will quickly be shown to have none.

I’m not going to make any apologies for this article giving the impression that it seeks to attack Jacqui Lambie personally; in view of such weighty pronouncements from the woman herself that she would personally block every government bill in the Senate until the Prime Minister and her colleagues acceded to the blackmail the threat implied — seemingly oblivious to the fact 74 other Senators get to vote on those bills as well — we’re not talking about a genius.

And in fact, this column has intermittently followed the travails and escapades of Senator Lambie with great interest: see here, here, here, here, here, here and here, just for starters.

In considering her incoherent and cringeworthy lack of comprehension of issues — such as the excruciating differentiation she drew between “Communist Chinese” and “Chinese” (the former able to be hit on Chinese soil with nuclear weapons without harming the latter in any way, or so her logic dictated) or her ridiculous understanding of the “Sharia Law” she so vehemently rages against — along with her foul mouth, her total lack of apparent refinement or sense of occasion or position, and the victim mentality she deploys as both justification and camouflage for her demented rants, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Lambie is in fact the stupidest person ever elected to any Parliament, at any level, anywhere in Australia.

(I acknowledge, however, that plenty of comers from all sides have constituted serious competition for that dubious honour).

And Lambie, who is explicitly on record as a stated aspirant to the position of Prime Minister, deserves as such to be assessed on her merits: and in this regard, her conduct and utterances to date reveal her to have none.

Her latest enterprise arguably boasts even less than that.

So let’s not waste any time on crocodile tears about a personal attack upon Jacqui Lambie.

For just like every other egomaniacal, self-obsessed pathology case who has come to Australian politics either deluded that they are the Messiah and/or in search of the gathering and exercise of brute power in their own hands, Lambie has seemingly decided that other Australians share her warped view of her own importance, and has started her very own party: the Jacqui Lambie Network, which sounds more like a bad comedy on a subscription TV channel than it does a serious attempt to build a political organisation.

Depending on preference, readers can peruse reports from the Murdoch and/or Fairfax press in relation to this Earth-shattering event.

In a clear sign Lambie learned nothing from the cyclonic Palmer United Party she recently stomped out of, she has already emulated one of Palmer’s worst mistakes: the appointment of a husband and wife team as chief adviser and holder of senior roles in the party’s organisational wing, respectively (a mistake also made in the case of the Liberal Party, of which Lambie should have been well enough aware to have avoided).

I’m not actually going to spend the time deconstructing the likely electoral appeal of Lambie’s new “force” — just like the credibility of her views and her merits as an MP at all, it has none — or on the fatuous fairy story of the overwhelming demand Lambie has received for a “Lambie brand in politics” (I think getting the sick bucket would be quicker and more expeditious for all concerned).

But I do want to look at the 12 so-called “core beliefs” her party is purported to be founded upon, for this creed is contradictory, divisive, and fashioned to give the impression of a limited individual working hard to grasp the implications of the issues she stands for when in fact, it is aimed merely at bolstering her own public profile.

(And that’s something that natural justice would see swiftly cut from under her too).

Right from the beginning, Lambie’s “core beliefs” get it wrong; the insistence that “members must always put their state first in all decisions they make” is simply a recipe for the Jacqui Lambie Network (or “JLN,” as it is already being somewhat irritatingly referred to) to descend quickly and irrevocably into a seething cesspit of state chauvinism and conflicting prejudices that are, by their nature and the word of this ridiculous edict, impossible to reconcile.

A similar recipe for chaos lies in the statement that JLN “supports conscience votes on all moral and ethical issues:” just how does it propose to demarcate these from “ordinary” issues? Which issues warrant the JLN’s lofty ethical and moral consideration, and which ones are merely so run of the mill that any question of conscience or ethics doesn’t apply to them? And it is clear that party discipline or a considered, united position on most things is not a priority for Lambie, which is perhaps a reflection on her own abysmal conduct as a member of Clive Palmer’s team, such as it was.

The “core beliefs” reveal Lambie to continue to obsess over the lot of veterans, with a number of motherhood statements on the subject intersecting with the almost complete disregard for the rest of the Australian community. (Never mind the fact that most service personnel I speak to are deeply affronted that this troublemaking miscreant from the junior non-commissioned ranks has the temerity to present herself as an authority on military matters, or to agitate on their behalf).

And I say “almost complete,” because Lambie enshrines in her party’s silly platform the incendiary, racially divisive scheme she first raised six months ago for reserved seats in Australian Parliaments for Aborigines: even if you accept the goodness of her intentions (and I don’t), this is one of the surest ways to stoke tension and resentment between black and white Australians any fool could volunteer. It does not matter what they do in New Zealand. It does not matter whether Lambie is of Aboriginal descent, a point hotly disputed in any case by some Aboriginal elders in Tasmania. It is little more than reverse racism, and the fact Lambie is prepared to argue for it should be a cause for alarm, not acclaim.

On and on it goes.

A transactions tax to “guarantee pensions” for returned servicemen; slashing foreign aid to boost university funding; support for the “proper regulation of Halal” (sic) and for a “monitoring and regulation system” to ensure fuel and electricity prices in Australia are no higher than overseas (wherever “overseas” is actually meant to be) that sounds like a recipe for interventionist government and the wastage of tens of billions of dollars in market-distorting subsidies that will render far more damage on the Australian economy than they will ever avert.

It’s all conflicting, turgid, pseudo-populist rubbish.

I particularly like the “Special Economic Zones” Lambie wants to establish in regional and rural areas to “help boost profitability and job creation.” How? Where? With what? What profitability? What jobs will be created? Only a fool would be hoodwinked by such empty gibberish.

Or — to paraphrase the immortal line from Don’s Party — the carbon tax Lambie supports, but only after “our major trading partners” introduce “a similar tax on their coal-fired power stations,” which in its half-a-bob-each-way sentiment sounds like a recommendation to eat shit in case it tastes like watermelon.

It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to see that the only thing Lambie wants to further or advance is herself: this mercenary political harlot, who has admitted “infiltrating” both the Liberal and Labor parties prior to her election to see what she could get from them before joining Clive Palmer’s ticket in a brazen move to get campaign funds, is not someone who can readily be accused of any consistency or principle in her public life to date.

I have seen some comments in the mainstream press this evening suggesting that all the Jacqui Lambie Network even exists for is to provide a vehicle with which to secure public election funding and, whilst this may or may not be the case, I don’t think Lambie stands to make all that much money from it, for one very salient — if cruel — reason.

Jacqui Lambie does not possess the mass appeal to rednecks and bogans of a Pauline Hanson; she does not possess the vast sums of cash to bankroll political campaigns or the inexhaustible bile and hatred and thirst for “vengeance” to single-mindedly drive them of a Clive Palmer.

Instead, Lambie is deservedly ridiculed and widely regarded as a joke, and an embarrassment.

And nobody will take her new party particularly seriously.

Back in November I characterised Lambie as an idiot whose like had never been seen in federal politics, and would hopefully never be seen again; and regrettably, her Jacqui Lambie Network is merely the latest proof that that assessment was far from inaccurate.

If this is what Lambie believes in, then God help Australia if she ever attains a position from which to act on it: she won’t, of course, for Australians might be generous to an underdog, but Lambie is asking too much of even that noble sentiment.

Once again, Lambie has proven herself to be just about the stupidest individual in politics today: and whilst there is nothing wrong with the ambition of becoming Prime Minister, there are some who are so defective as to fail to even be entitled to such a delusional aspiration in the first place.

Lambie sits in that category.

 

Palmer MPs Not Paid To Do Nothing

THE RIDICULOUS NEWS that Clive Palmer and his remaining two Senators will abstain from voting on legislation — on the dubious pretext of “chaos” resulting from the unfortunate contortions over the Liberal Party leadership — is an anti-democratic travesty; Palmer United MPs will continue to enjoy salaries, air travel, staffing and other taxpayer-funded perks for not doing their job. Such a refusal should coincide with departure from Parliament.

It is one thing for an MP to abstain from voting on a single bill, perhaps on principle, or due to a conflict of interest.

It is another matter altogether to simply refuse to vote on legislation altogether, as an act of wilful buffoonery designed to attract attention.

But the announcement by Clive Palmer that the remaining MPs from his silly party will refrain from voting on all legislation until the Liberal Party leadership (and thus the Prime Ministership) is “resolved” is a wanton piece of anti-democratic thuggery that deserves to be met with expulsion from federal Parliament.

Clive Palmer is on the record many times over the past 18 months as being flatly opposed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government; it seems that in his mad, bad stampede to hound former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman out of office, Palmer has lumped Abbott into the same category as the feisty Queenslander, and with leadership “chaos” (and what might constitute its resolution) being highly subjective concepts, it seems that once again Palmer is attempting to position himself as some kind of arbiter of acceptable standards of political conduct.

If Palmer wants to take action over unacceptable political conduct, he should perhaps seriously review the behaviour of his own party since its unfortunate inception.

Taxpayers resource federal MPs quite generously, with Palmer and each of his Senators paid in the vicinity of some $200,000 each; all are provided with staff, managed offices and other resources, and all are entitled to free travel and accommodation provisions for travel to Canberra.

In short, these individuals are not paid to do nothing: in taking advantage of these provisions, something is reasonably expected from them in return.

What Palmer might think — or demand, decree, or seek to engineer — where the leadership of other parties is concerned is utterly irrelevant to what he and his lamentable Senators were elected to do and (in the context of the Liberal Party and the Coalition more broadly) Palmer forfeited any right or justification he may once have had to input into such matters the day he stormed out of Queensland’s LNP because it wouldn’t behave in office as he expected it to.

There is also no political convention that enables any member of Parliament to cite “chaos” as a pretext for abstaining from voting on legislation, and certainly not where a proposed blanket abstention across all matters before its Houses is concerned.

Should Palmer make good his threat — which would complicate the ability of the government to pass legislation, and see the Palmer United Party fall into line with the similarly unthinking opposition to passing legislation of its brainless former Senator, Jacqui Lambie — it would constitute a reprehensible course of action, and one which should be used by opponents on all sides of the political spectrum to help ensure Palmer forces are preferenced out of winning election to any seat in any jurisdiction in any circumstances in future.

After all, aside from entertainment value that relies on the “train smash” principle, the Palmer United Party adds nothing constructive to politics and government in Australia.

I would hope that any absences from either the Senate or the House of Representatives that contravene Parliament’s Standing Orders are vigorously monitored and pursued: and that should any grounds under these provisions for expulsion from Parliament be satisfied, that the Abbott government will pursue these in an attempt to rid Canberra of the ugly blot on an already tarnished institution whose name has been further besmirched by the masquerade of malice as principle by this most undesirable of political entities.

Perhaps Clive Palmer should look in his own back yard before making faux stands of righteous indignation over “chaos” where the activities of others are concerned.

After all — directed to abstain from all votes on legislation — his Senators voted down a workplace relations bill last night.

It says it all, really.

 

LNP Corruption Rant: Palmer Must Put Up Or Shut Up

LIKE A RITALIN-ADDICTED BRAT, Clive Palmer has wasted no time wading into Queensland’s state election campaign to make vague allegations of corruption against the LNP government; he has also claimed Campbell Newman faced a leadership spill next week, which motivated the timing of the election announcement. Palmer claims to have evidence to back his wild stories. It is time — once and for all — for him to put up or shut up.

There is a certain idiocy in the fact that a political opportunist like Clive Palmer should apparently seek to arrogate to himself the role of an arbiter when it comes to the questions of official misconduct and corruption he purports to raise around Queensland’s LNP government generally and its Premier, Campbell Newman, in particular.

And there is an obscenity in the fact that rather than facilitate the flow of corroborating information he claims to possess to law enforcement agencies, Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission, or to other properly constituted statutory authorities charged with the investigation and prosecution of such matters, Palmer’s sporadic accusations and wildly vague allegations only ever get aired under the coward’s cloak of parliamentary privilege, at press conferences to attract attention, or in paid advertising material for the God-forsaken political vehicle created in his own name for the express purpose of destroying everything with a Coalition label on it.

Clive Palmer has wasted little time wading into the state election campaign getting underway in Queensland, making a series of statements in the media yesterday that appear to be carefully crafted to accuse the Queensland government and its Premier of official corruption whilst studiously avoiding saying anything specific enough to attract a writ for defamation in response.

Palmer adds precisely nothing to the public debate with these outbursts, unsubstantiated as they are; it is time for his intended audience — voters — to simply ignore the embittered ranting about imagined corruption that he peddles, and it is well past the point at which the mainstream media firmament should be holding him vociferously to account rather than allowing him to waffle on unretarded and providing the platform upon which to do so.

Palmer had indicated, earlier yesterday, to any journalist who would listen that he had “an election bombshell” about Newman’s government that would “blow the election campaign wide open,” and apparently wont to tantalise the media throng he clearly believes he holds in thrall declared he would “reveal to the world” the information he was sitting on: but just not yet.

But like a rampaging infant throwing a tantrum in its high chair (or like an attention-starved brat addicted to Ritalin), Palmer simply couldn’t refrain from airing his “knowledge:” the state election had been called to head off a leadership spill within the LNP this week, he said, and to avoid facing “scrutiny” over fresh allegations of corruption that were set to be heard at his very own Senate inquiry into Campbell Newman’s government.

That’s the very same (euphemistically named) Senate Inquiry into Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration Related to Commonwealth Government Affairs being chaired by Palmer stooge and Palmer United Party Senator Glenn Lazarus, whose “public hearings” often fail to attract attendees, and whose only tangible value to date has rested in the business it has generated for contract caterers booked to provide food and drink at each of the venues the inquiry utilises.

The same inquiry many of the country’s top legal minds — to say nothing of Coalition MPs — are convinced amounts to nothing more than an unconstitutional and politically motivated witch hunt, to which end moves are afoot to take action in the High Court to have it declared as such. The unconstitutionality side of it, at any rate.

And even if the inquiry survives such a challenge, the simple fact Palmer has declined to allow the existing mechanisms for dealing with corruption and alleged corruption in Queensland to deal with his accusations and salacious secrets exhibits a flagrant and cavalier disregard for proper process that conveys the distinct impression that Palmer believes he is a law unto himself, or a force of nature: and the rest of us will either submit to him, or be bullied and harangued into utter capitulation and abject humiliation in the most public fashion possible.

It’s ironic that this should be the stance of a man who stomped out of the LNP because it wouldn’t make decisions in government that were favourable to his business interests — and that, apparently, the buckets of money he has donated to Queensland’s conservatives seemed to make him think he was entitled to such preferment.

And it is ironic that an individual facing multiple legal actions from his Chinese business partners over accusations he improperly siphoned $12 million of their money from trust accounts to pay for his federal election campaign in 2013 should be ranting about corruption and implicating Campbell Newman and his colleagues in very serious allegations of misconduct when to date there has been not one shred of evidence either produced publicly nor offered to Police.

Palmer claims to have an email from a Queensland LNP Senator urging the Senate inquiry be shut down, which he seems to suggest somehow proves his wild insinuations against the Newman government; given so many people of educated opinion believe the inquiry to be an illegal charade — except Palmer of course, and except the ALP and the Communist Party Greens, both of which lack the integrity or the moral fortitude to refrain from participating in the grimiest and tackiest of political stunts at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers — such an email (if it even exists) is hardly a hanging offence.

Of the supposed leadership coup Palmer says was being plotted against Newman in an attempt to overthrow him this week, I don’t know if there’s any substance to it — I suspect there wasn’t — but even if there was, it’s too late to do anything about it now.

Either way, Palmer — again — is merely varying his attack on the Queensland Premier by seeking to foment instability within the LNP and doubts in the minds of its wavering voters.

Certainly, if there had been any truth to it, it would have offered a solution of sorts to the looming problem the LNP will have if it staggers across the line to re-election later this month, but Newman is defeated in his seat of Ashgrove.

But by the same token, a leadership change now, ahead of (say) an election in March, would probably have scuppered what slender prospects the LNP has for re-election at all, and on that basis alone my inclination is to suspect that Palmer is talking pure and unadulterated bullshit.

As usual.

Wild attacks made under parliamentary privilege that invariably contain no substance whatsoever are not “evidence” of corruption.

Stoking a media frenzy to attract free press exposure with a view to soliciting the votes of the gullible and the stupid does not amount to a meaningful contribution to public debate, nor the utterances given therein automatically accorded any basis in fact.

A personal vendetta against the Premier of Queensland and a hunger for retribution against his party do not qualify as matters of legitimate public interest.

A hare-brained and unconstitutional Senate witch-hunt convened at taxpayers’ expense for the sole purpose of advancing these endeavours is not an appropriate use of public funds and resources, to say the least.

And titillating hints of scandal, devoid of any proof, strategically fed into the opening days of an election campaign in Queensland whose outcome is uncertain do not amount to election “issues” that merit or deserve any media coverage at all, let alone the lavishly generous airtime and column space Palmer’s despicable antics are invariably rewarded with.

If Clive Palmer has any real evidence whatsoever of official misconduct or corruption on the part of Campbell Newman, his parliamentary colleagues, or indeed any other LNP figure at either the state or federal level, he should immediately hand this material over to the properly constituted authorities responsible for investigating such matters and undertaking prosecutions where indicated.

His outrageous Senate inquiry does not amount to a “properly constituted” authority in this regard.

If not, we can treat his words — and his Palmer United Party — with the contempt they deserve.

Palmer has beaten the drum of accusations against Campbell Newman and his government for years; had there been any substance to his wild rants to begin with, Newman would be in jail by now.

If he is unable to back his foolish outbursts with solid facts, Palmer should shut up once and for all — and the media should simply ignore him.

After all, silence from Palmer can only improve the calibre of the national political debate. It’s not as if anyone would be deprived of anything they’d miss, or regret.

 

Queensland: Palmer Link Will Humiliate Bjelke-Petersen

THE ANNOUNCEMENT that John Bjelke-Petersen — son of former National Party Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen — will stand for the Palmer United Party against deputy Premier Jeff Seeney in his seat of Callide marks a point at which the damage Palmer inflicts on his conservative forebears becomes palpable. The electoral humiliation the younger Bjelke-Petersen has signed onto will be immense. It will forever stain an iconic Queensland name.

I should just reiterate at the outset, for the record, that I was never a supporter of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, nor an apologist for the excesses that occurred on his government’s watch; Queensland and especially modern Brisbane as it stands today arguably owe a great deal to the rapid development that took place during decades of Coalition and National Party rule, but that doesn’t excuse in any way those aspects of the regime — and “regime” is the correct term — that took a Royal Commission led by Tony Fitzgerald QC two years to unravel.

Even so, the announcement today that Joh’s son, John, is to assume the mantle of “state leader” of the Palmer United Party in Queensland ahead of a state election in February or March is a curious development, and one that stands to significantly tarnish what credibility — if any — remains attached to the Bjelke-Petersen name in the Sunshine State.

Several developing themes are woven together in this move, announced by Clive Palmer, and the one over which any doubt at all should now be dispelled is that Palmer will use any and all means at his disposal to wreck Queensland’s merged LNP in pursuit of “vengeance” over the fact it refused to blithely do his bidding once it had been elected to office.

Whilst he has stood under the Palmer banner once before (in a federal seat last year I actually thought he stood a slight chance of achieving an upset in), I am very surprised John Bjelke-Petersen has allowed himself to be co-opted into this, becoming a virtual cat’s paw for Palmer in the process.

There is a real prospect — its likelihood fluctuating, but real nonetheless — that Queensland’s LNP government, which scored well over 60% of the two-party vote in 2012, could be defeated early next year.

This is and should be an entirely ridiculous proposition; a government entering office in such a landslide should, in the ordinary course of events, be entitled to expect it will govern for at least two to three terms before having to face a serious electoral fight.

But as with any rule, there are exceptions, and when I have spoken about the value of the LNP’s 2012 election win in the past I have also sometimes referred readers to what happened in South Australia in 1997.

If the LNP loses in Queensland, Clive Palmer and his eponymous party will have had a big hand in engineering this outcome.

Labor, coming off an embarrassing 26.7% of the vote in 2012, was always set to face an almost insurmountable hurdle to reclaim government in one jump.

But the planets continue to align for the ALP, and Bjelke-Petersen’s ill-advised assumption of the leadership of Palmer’s party is simply the latest piece of the puzzle to fall into place.

I don’t think there are many people with knowledge of electoral politics who dispute the assertion that a very big swing against Campbell Newman and the LNP is brewing; the only argument I have encountered to date — from conservative and Labor-aligned adherents alike — is its likely eventual scope and geographic reach.

I am yet to come across any serious rebuttal of my contention that for all the talk of “fair” elections in post-Fitzgerald Queensland, the electoral boundaries in that state are biased against the LNP by somewhere between 2% and 4%.

In other words, Labor doesn’t need 50% of the statewide two-party vote to win, or anything approaching it: just as it didn’t in 1995, when it won (before the overturn of a disputed result in one seat) with 46.3%. This will become a more pertinent as we go on.

The near-certainty that Newman himself will lose his seat of Ashgrove means his government will enter the formal election campaign juggling a peculiar kind of instability it refuses to either acknowledge or to address: namely, the imperative to level with Queenslanders as to who Newman’s replacement as Premier would be if the government manages to be re-elected but its leader does not.

In turn, this opens the door to the mother of all scare campaigns from the ALP, built around deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, who — as we have discussed before — is so unpopular in south-east Queensland as to represent a virtual hate figure.

Of course, common sense dictates that Seeney will never be Premier; the likeliest — and most saleable — post-election replacement for Newman is the Treasurer, Tim Nicholls.

But that won’t stop Labor making merry hell over the prospect of “Premier Seeney,” and it is here that Palmer and his newest cunning plot, involving Bjelke-Petersen, comes into play.

I have said before that the primary vote of 49% achieved by the LNP in 2012 was, in likelihood, depressed by the presence of candidates from the Katter Australia Party: three years ago, it was Katter — not Palmer — offering Queenslanders an “alternative” to voting for the ALP if they didn’t want to make the full stretch to supporting the LNP outright.

This time, it is Palmer filling that role, and whilst Katter’s party arguably drew votes from both the LNP and Labor, a key difference is that Katter sought to come through the middle as a third force. Palmer, by contrast, has operated a stated policy of attempting to destroy the LNP electorally (and its present leader personally) ever since the day he announced the formation of his own God-forsaken outfit.

My point is that Palmer’s party will continue to draw votes away from the LNP as Katter’s did three years ago, even as outright support for the LNP recedes from its 2012 high.

Factor in Queensland’s optional preferential voting (OPV) system — and perhaps a refusal by Palmer to allocate any preferences, especially in favour of the LNP — and the potential for his party to wreak havoc on the LNP’s prospects becomes obvious.

(If the LNP polled 37%, Labor 33% and Palmer 15% — with the Greens on about 12%, almost all of which would find its way to Labor — it’s easy to see that without most of Palmer’s vote going to the LNP on preferences, the LNP loses. It is a very crude and rudimentary illustration of the point, but I think it makes it fairly concisely).

Where all of this becomes convoluted in terms of Bjelke-Petersen’s presence lies in the fact that whilst his famous surname might attract a higher vote across the state than Palmer might otherwise have been able to generate, it is unlikely to translate into any seats.

In Seeney’s seat of Callide specifically, I don’t think Bjelke-Petersen stands the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell; Seeney might not be popular in Brisbane but on his own stomping ground, a win on first preference votes is at least an even-money bet. Even if Bjelke-Petersen won a quarter of the vote in Callide (as a Katter candidate did in 2012) Seeney could still win outright (as he also did in 2012). And Bjelke-Petersen is now a four-time loser, including twice in his famous father’s old seat as a National Party candidate.

It’s not hard to see that the prodigal son lacks the political touch of his late father when it comes translating local networks into votes: and it’s not difficult to make the judgement that the younger Bjelke-Petersen isn’t the “star” signing Palmer clearly thinks he has landed, or anything remotely approaching it.

Still, Clive Palmer’s approach to retail politics as practised under his eponymous entity — even with the loathsome Jacqui Lambie removed from the fold — has been nothing if not nihilistic in nature, and his stated bent on revenge against the LNP (and its conservative cousins elsewhere in the country) has known few bounds to date.

I don’t think Palmer cares who or what he uses, exploits, trashes and/or destroys in his singular mission to ruin Campbell Newman and the government formed by the party he poured millions of dollars of his own money into; it is an endeavour he is hellbent on winning at all costs.

The potential now exists for the falling primary vote support of the LNP to be further comprised by Palmer candidates, whose adverse impact on LNP support may be exacerbated by the presence of a Bjelke-Petersen name on the Palmer ticket.

It is highly plausible that whilst winning no seats of its own, the Palmer United Party will manage to depress the LNP vote far enough — and starve Newman’s government of enough preference flows — for Labor to either win the election in Queensland outright, or to force one side or the other into minority: and if it is the LNP which governs in a hung Parliament under such a scenario, a Labor win in Queensland three years later becomes a virtual certainty, as no returning government forced into minority anywhere in Australia in the past 40 years has ever won the subsequent election it fought.

Should this come to pass, Bjelke-Petersen will have been instrumental in bringing about the one thing his father spent decades fighting to stave off: the election of a Labor government.

It would tarnish the Bjelke-Petersen name in Queensland, and with Seeney unlikely to be dislodged from Callide, would destroy whatever residual credibility the Bjelke-Petersens might retain in the eyes of the Queensland public.

Palmer, of course, would be laughing; he doesn’t need to win a single electorate in Queensland, on paper, to achieve his stated political goals.

John Bjelke-Petersen would have served his function as a useful idiot.

And it is Queenslanders — lumbered with yet another insipid Labor government — who would be left to pay the price.

 

 

Lambie, Palmer, And A Great Big Cock-Up

JACQUI LAMBIE’S resignation from the Palmer United Party today warrants condemnation, nothing more; even so, the disintegration of Clive Palmer’s eponymous party is to be eagerly and enthusiastically welcomed, as the get-square implement of a despotic autocrat continues to collapse under the weight of competing egos, a policy agenda with the actual and moral clarity of a sewer, and an electorate awake to the fact it was cynically conned.

It looks like my article on Senate reform is going to have to wait at least another day after all, although with the mooted resignation of Jacqui Lambie from Clive Palmer’s party looming large as I posted this morning, I half expected this might be the case. Nonetheless, I promise readers that by the middle of the week at the latest, the proffered Senate piece will be published.

I wanted to add my thoughts to some of the comment that has found its way speedily into print today after Lambie’s infantile tantrum culminated in her departure from the Palmer United Party, and far from echoing any of the faux grace she attempted to exhibit on the way out the door, readers might be surprised to know that I think what she has done today is reprehensible.

Lambie’s resignation from the Palmer United Party deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms: no more, no less.

This abominable and virtually inarticulate specimen, plucked from the Tasmanian boondocks — to continue, it seems, her career as a victim, albeit on a bigger stage — owes her position in the Senate to the party Clive Palmer founded, and as painful as it is to say it, Palmer is actually right to lambaste Lambie for daring to arrogate to herself the role of an Independent just a year after being elected on Palmer’s ticket, as a member of Palmer’s party, and bankrolled by Palmer’s money, which she has admitted herself on the public record that she needed to sustain her campaign.

Whilst nobody will ever now know, it seems inconceivable that Lambie would have been elected under her own steam last year: her Senate spot would have gone to the Tasmanian Liberals, whence it was arguably stolen under a false premise.

And her claims today to have had “a great weight lifted off (her) shoulders” in resigning from Palmer’s outfit ought to instead hang like a millstone around her neck, or be flung back in her face to politically crucify her: for, like it or not, Lambie was elected as a Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania. Far from a weight being lifted from her shoulders, she has in fact absconded from the job she was elected to, and dumped on those Tasmanians who voted for her.

Her assertion that she is now free to act as a Senator for Tasmania is unbelievably crass: she was already that. And with the degree of levity Palmer was clearly prepared to extend to her for her fancies — despite the obvious acrimony between the two — it is reasonable to assert there is nothing she can achieve now that could not have been achieved had she remained in the role to which she was elected just an embarrassingly short amount of time ago.

Lambie’s resignation is no act of principle, nor a stand for anything that is right, decent, or even coherent. It is a sham.

For the record, I have no truck whatsoever with the unrelenting goading and taunting Palmer has engaged in over the past few weeks, almost daring Lambie to go ahead and leave his God-forsaken rabble; his accusations that she sought to defect to other parties — and even that she was a plant who infiltrated his party to sabotage it — are ridiculous, fatuous, and distasteful in the extreme.

But two wrongs do not make a right, and Lambie has — good to her word — given as good as she has received, returning fire at Palmer through the receptive organs of the media at every opportunity, and the duo have better resembled a warring marital couple than a pair of sober, professional political operatives.

Lambie tried to be gracious today, with remarks about Palmer’s “beautiful family” and suggesting that when “the dust has cleared” there will be opportunities for her to work with her former Palmer colleagues “in the national interest.”

Yet there is nothing about Lambie, Palmer, or the entire Palmer United Party infrastructure that could be remotely construed as being in the national interest, and the only surprise about Lambie’s resignation is that she chose to jump before Palmer pushed her: after all, and as I have opined here recently, being kicked out of the Palmer party would fit nicely with Lambie’s narrative of herself as a victim battling against almost everything and everyone she encounters.

In truth, today’s developments should be kept in perspective: yes, they will make a fractious and unpredictably hostile Senate that much harder for the Abbott government to handle, and the mysteriously expanding list of issues Lambie says she wishes to champion will make her difficult to deal with at all. But they will only make a bad situation infinitesimally worse, and continuing the slow disintegration of the Palmer United Party, the welcome aspect of Lambie’s actions today is that is should inevitably hasten its demise.

For the Palmer party is, indeed, disintegrating; already, it has lost half the MPs it has either managed to have elected to various Parliaments around the country, or has managed to coerce away and poach from the Coalition.

Stories of the dictatorial and autocratic manner in which Palmer runs his party are well documented and well known, as is the disturbing trend to friends, family members and loyal lieutenants increasingly filling key roles in the party and being awarded preselection berths.

The policy platform of the Palmer United Party — if it even has one — has all the clarity, real, moral, or otherwise, of a sewer: and I use the metaphor advisedly.

Its only real agenda (and this is an old story) is one of a malevolent, belligerent, get-square crusade aimed at Queensland’s LNP and, by extension, Coalition administrations elsewhere, for the simple reason Palmer was not given what he perceived he was entitled to in return for substantial support of the LNP and for Campbell Newman’s successful bid for the Premiership of Queensland.

Just to cap it, Western Australian Police confirmed today that they are conducting inquiries into Palmer in relation to allegations he siphoned money from his Chinese business partners to help bankroll his election campaign last year which, at the very minimum, contradicts Palmer’s flat denials that he faced any such investigations at all.

The cumulative reality that all of this represents — from the first hint Palmer might start his own party, up until the circus act today — has seen popular support for the Palmer United Party collapse across reputable opinion polls, and whilst it’s impossible to say “never” in politics, it is entirely possible that the point at which Palmer candidates begin to experience defeat (and the loss of their existing sinecures) is now at hand.

To this end, Palmer’s latest enterprise is to stand candidates for upper house sinecures at this Saturday’s state election in Victoria: once again, seeking to play the wrecking role, the spoiler, and to secure a vantage point from which no constructive contribution can ever be extracted.

Simply stated, the Palmer United Party’s claim to any of these spots rests solely upon the fact it is not the Liberal Party, or the Labor Party, or the National Party.

The time for Palmer to cash in on public disenchantment with politics and politicians has now passed, and as I have said in this column before, enterprises like the Palmer United Party merely fuel the very disillusionment with politics they purport to solve, and when the facade is stripped away — as it now has been, with an electorate well awake to the fact the Palmer United Party was just a con job — they feed back in to turning people away from politics even more.

If Palmer comes up empty-handed in Melbourne at the weekend, he will have received exactly what he deserved from Victorian voters.