Before the federal election I would have derided anyone for suggesting that Clive Palmer would become a pivotal figure in Australian politics. The Palmer United Party, brainchild of eccentric billionaire Clive Palmer seemed so politically irrelevant as to warrant little more than an amusing dinner-party conversation.
From July 1 next year, the Palmer Bloc, an unlikely coalition of United senators and a Motoring Enthusiast will hold veto over any legislation jointly opposed by Labor and the Greens.
It would seem natural that a mining magnate such as Palmer would cast his weight behind Coalition legislation to benefit his business holdings. But what does the man with everything really need? And what is the reason that Palmer has dived into politics at all? I would argue it’s the same reason he’s opening dinosaur theme parks and rebuilding the Titanic. A legacy.
So Palmer wants a legacy, and now he’s got the political pull to influence national policy. But you still might think he’d be in bed with the Coalition. Apparently not. The hilarious beef between Palmer and Abbott continues to fuel left wing erections across the nation. Abbott is determined to not be reliant on Palmer for passing legislation and Palmer is determined to be a key player in federal politics.
Did I mention that this guy is rebuilding the Titanic? Palmer is most likely not taking kindly to the Coalition government’s attempts to break apart the Palmer block by negotiating with Ricky Muir directly.
At the very worst, Palmer will allow Coalition government legislation to pass against a united opposition of Labor and Greens. At the very best however, he’ll force the Coalition to make hilarious compromises with the Palmer Bloc, Labor or even the Greens if the policy is to be passed at all. There is the delicious possibility of a Whitlam-esque total deadlock in Australian politics. After all, it’s very early days and a hell of a long wait until the next federal election. Since the Australian electorate has the memory of a goldfish, Palmer, Labor and the Greens can afford to fuck with the Coalition.
Let’s hope they all give it a try.
It’s a long shot perhaps, and maybe the landscape of Australian politics will shift so that the government will be able to pass legislation unopposed. But for those of us lefties who were resigned to staying indoors for the next several years, Palmer is such a wonderful, colourful and eccentric thorn to see in the Coalition’s side.
If you’re reading this, Clive. I’d be happy to run for Boothby for you, next time around.