Clive Palmer and the Liberals are pairing up – just forget those Nazi references | Australia news
Scott Morrison was questioned extensively on Wednesday about how the Liberals and Nationals could seal a preference deal with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party despite the treatment of workers at Queensland Nickel.
Although Palmer has now promised to pay workers $7m in outstanding entitlements, the commonwealth had to step in to pay $74m through the unpaid wages safety net, the Fair Entitlement Guarantee, when the company went into liquidation.
Morrison brushed off any suggestion that past bad blood between the Coalition and Palmer should prevent a preference deal: “Look, I’m not going to be held back by that, nor am I here to offer any defences of Mr Palmer,” he told reporters.
“He’s big enough to do that for himself. Parties will have discussions before close of nominations and the preference tickets, which will be issued next week in the normal course of events.”
It’s an extraordinary rapprochement after Palmer was persona non grata in Australian politics. Here is what the Liberals and Palmer have previously said about each other.
The Liberals on Clive Palmer
On 6 June Scott Morrison said: “He’s got to settle up with people up in Townsville. I mean, he’s left a bitter taste in the mouths of a lot of people up in Townsville and I think it will be a while before people trust him again.”
On 7 June the home affairs minister Peter Dutton told 2GB Radio: “Well I don’t understand his game. I think he needs to accept that he’s created huge problems in Townsville and he needs to make amends up there. People are owed money and I think Clive needs to deal with the past before he starts splashing out money into the future.”
Morrison, then the treasurer, also told 5AA Radio: “Well, Mr Palmer has a lot of explaining to do to people, especially up there in Townsville. I think he’s got to settle a lot of scores up there. As you know, the government had to step in and guarantee people’s entitlements out of the scheme we have up there and we’re pursuing that matter and that is before the courts, so I won’t say any more about that … In terms of Mr Palmer, thinking of him quite separately, we’ve seen that movie before and I’m not sure Australians want to see it again.”
On 21 June, Dutton said: “I just can’t believe that he thinks the brand is strong in Queensland where he lives.”
In July Malcolm Turnbull said: “Well, Clive Palmer should pay all his debts, he should pay all the money that’s due … He should pay all his debts. That’s what people in Townsville say to me. They say if Clive’s – Clive’s got his – if he’s in the money again, as he says, then he should take the opportunity to pay his debts.”
Clive Palmer on the Liberals
Clive Palmer has also changed his tune on the Liberals.
In April 2016 he refuted allegations he had funnelled $200m out of the Queensland Nickel refinery to his other businesses.
Palmer lashed out at Morrison for suggesting the Australian Securities and Investments Commission would hold him accountable: “Scott Morrison said he would lean on ASIC to take action against me. His comments were similar to what Commandant Himmler used to use in the Gestapo in Germany,” he said.
In a marathon press conference at parliament house, Palmer also attacked the Liberals’ record on job creation: “What have [Malcolm] Turnbull, [Michaelia] Cash and [Scott] Morrison ever done to create jobs? What jobs have they even established or created?”
In an interview with the Huffington Post in June 2016: “I’m not basically a politician. I think parliament should be a place the community serves and reflects what’s happening. Once you’ve done three years in that place, it’s worse than three years in Alcatraz.”