Palmer: I saved Australia, now I’ll save Queensland
Maverick businessman Clive Palmer claims central Queensland has become a Third World economy, warns the state's future is on a knife-edge, and accuses the Premier of politicising the COVID-19 pandemic to be re-elected.
In a provocative attack, he described Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk as hopeless and said he wanted to use his influence to save Queensland from Labor, as he did for Australia in the 2019 federal election.
Mr Palmer said voters should not discount the possibility of a re-elected Labor Government turning the rest of the Sunshine State into an economic basket case.
Mr Palmer, who says he's worth $9 billion, told The Sunday Mail that in coming weeks he would ramp up his campaign against Ms Palaszczuk.
In his first major declaration of why he's investing heavily in the October 31 election, Mr Palmer said he had saved Australia from "dodgy" then Labor leader Bill Shorten at the last federal poll, and he intended to do the same for Queensland with Ms Palaszczuk.
"It was an important moment (the 2019 campaign) and we acted decisively. We did it for all Australians," he said.
Mr Palmer spent $90 million in the lead-up to the federal election and while he didn't win a seat, Labor's loss was attributed to the billionaire's influence.
"She's hopeless … terrible,'' he said of Ms Palaszczuk.
"Never believe that things can't get worse.
"I had differences with (former premier) Campbell Newman, but the fact is Queensland has gone backwards and many of our children don't have a future.
"Campaigning against Campbell was a bad move.
"Campbell had his problems about civil liberties and so on, but he's learned from that.
"We have a serious problem here in Queensland.
"The economy is on a knife-edge.
"What's going to happen when JobKeeper kicks out?
"Tourism is in trouble.
"Central Queensland, they are living in a Third World economy.
"I fear the rest of the state is next. Queensland is in a very bad position.
"There is no real hope for people.
"Ten thousand people alone have lost their jobs on the Gold Coast.
"We need a new deal based on enterprise. Eliminate taxes so we are more competitive.
"The current government doesn't listen to anybody. They have no idea about wealth creation.''
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Palmer suggested the best way to bring China into line was to start putting export tariffs on iron ore.
And he controversially suggested local and state governments should be abolished, and instead regional authorities set up in north, central and southeast Queensland.
CLIVE ON QLD NICKEL DEBACLE
Mr Palmer, who was maligned after the closure of Queensland Nickel, defended his actions and spoke of his nephew, who is still a fugitive in southeast Europe.
Mr Palmer said BHP was going to close Queensland Nickel in 2009.
"Then premier Anna Bligh came to me and asked would I save it," he said.
"We invested $2 billion to keep it going. Those people had jobs for seven or eight years that they wouldn't have had if it had been closed. We have paid them out, Every cent owed has been paid."
On his nephew, Clive Mensink, he said there was no reason for him to return.
"I talk to him every day," he told The Sunday Mail.
"ASIC are not chasing him. They are hopeless. He's quite happy. He's got a great incentive to stay in Bulgaria. He's in love.
"He can't come home even if he wanted to, with the virus."
Asked broadly about litigation, Mr Palmer said he had to defend himself.
"My number of court cases is less than BHP and Rio," he said.
"You've got no choice. I have to defend myself.
"If people sue you, it's important you defend yourself."
CLIVE ON TRUMP
As what is being dubbed the most important election in US history looms, Mr Palmer spoke about Donald Trump, throwing his support behind the Republican President.
"I think he will win. He's going well," he said.
"A great friend of mine in the Democratic Party rang the other day and said (Democrat nominee Joe) Biden is ahead by six points.
"Hillary Clinton was 12 points up at the same time in 2016.
"People are underestimating the violence in the US, the lack of law and order.
"It's mostly happening under Democrat governors.
Trump will survive. You can't believe the mainstream media in the US."
CLIVE ON CHINA
Mr Palmer warned China viewed Australia as weak.
"The Chinese are only interested in control," he said.
"Ancient China believed we were the barbarians and they were the civilised people. That hasn't changed much.
"China is totally dependent on iron ore. They know that.
"If the Government was to put a tariff on iron ore, they'd respect that.
"They see us as being weak. They want control of our resources in this country and they use anything to get their way."
"The Chinese just want to win at all costs. They want us to kowtow to them.
"They don't care, if it's not in their interests they don't care, they believe Australia is the new China."
CLIVE ON AUSSIE POLITICS
"We are over-governed. I'd abolish local and state governments and turn them into regional authorities," Mr Palmer said.
"Have a regional authority looking after north, central and southeast Queensland.
"Could you imagine the savings on politicians and bureaucrats? It would solve the state's debt problem in one go.
"We started with seven sovereign states. The amount of bureaucracy is too much for the taxpayer to bear."
On the issue of Parliament, Mr Palmer said online sittings would be more effective.
"I'd get rid of it. We'd do (government business) by Zoom," he said.
"They don't vote anyway. They vote for what the party says.
Imagine the savings. Nowadays it makes total sense. It's a madhouse. I've retired as a parliamentarian."
Asked about former Labor leader Bill Shorten, he said it was a good thing for Australia that he hadn't been elected.
"Ask yourself right now, how would we be if he (Shorten) was in The Lodge," he said.
"We wouldn't be ready for the virus. He'd have racked up a trillion-dollar debt.
"I was thinking about how we portrayed Shorten. There just wasn't something right about him. I thought he's just dodgy, this bloke. Dodgy Bill became the line.''
Mr Palmer said the response to COVID-19 was a massive over-reaction.
"What about the suicides and the toll on families? The borders being closed is not as publicly popular as we think," he said.
"As Roosevelt said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear alone.' (sic)
"This is all about winning elections."
CLIVE ON CLIVE
Mr Palmer said his Titanic II shipbuilding project would get off the ground.
"We were already to go again and the virus hit. We are re-evaluating that. It was a good move we didn't go too early.
"I want it to happen and it will."
Asked about money, Mr Palmer said it was unimportant.
"It means nothing to me. As long as you have a good wife, a good bed and are able to have some good tucker, that's the key," he said.
"Family is the key to a happy life. I'm very lucky in that way. I'm fortunate to be in love with my wife. She puts up with me."
He also slammed society's growing cancel culture.
"You can't change history," he said.
"It is what it is. They are who we are. We shouldn't be ashamed. We are not perfect. As humans we need to make ourselves better people. I have tonnes of faults. Some people think I'm a rat."
Originally published as Palmer: I saved Australia, now I'll save Queensland