Clive Palmer’s advertising was everywhere, reported to have cost $60 million or more. Along with other features of this campaign, it led to the question being asked The Guardian ‘Designed to deceive’: how do we ensure truth in political advertising?.
Palmer says he is just doing what he can to make Australia a better place. The question is, for whom? Making Australia a better place apparently necessitated spending all that money to suppress the Labor vote to save the country from ‘Shifty Shorten’.
Now he says that Annastacia Palaszczuk is next, when Queensland goes to the polls next October:
“Palaszczuk should be shaking in her shoes,” Mr Palmer said in an interview with The Australian Financial Review.
Palmer is a self-styled billionaire, but the Financial Review Rich List assessed his worth in 2017 after Queensland Nickel went bust as a mere $344 million. The liquidator is still after him for $250 million, plus he faces a further $300 million to clean up the tailings dam. Yet now the Rich List now puts his worth at $4.1 billion.
Mark Ludlow and Michael Bailey tell the story in the AFR.
Palmer often litigates, and often loses. However in December 2017 he won. CITEC, a Chinese developer entered into a royalty agreement with Palmer to develop his iron ore tenements in the Pilbara in 2006. The “A” royalty was an uncontroversial 30 cents per tonne of ore produced, adjusted annually for inflation. The “B” royalty was a multiple of ore produced and the iron ore price. CITEC argued this should be replaced by a mine profitability fraction when pricing regimes changed in 2010 with the introduction of spot prices.
The WA Supreme Court decided in favour of Palmer. The final appeal was dismissed last week, so Palmer got about $200 million in back payments. Now he has locked in a future royalty stream worth $400 million pa, rising to $600 as production ramps up. That will continue until 2044 if the price stays at around $US100 per tonne, more if the price goes up.
Palmer also owns four golf courses on the Gold Coast with plans to develop around 5000 apartments on two of them. That isn’t all, of course.
Among other interests, Palmer is proposing a monster coal mine just south of Adani’s Carmichael mine (see also What does Clive Palmer want? – Election 2019 follies 3).
- Mr Palmer’s companies hold extensive coal exploration licenses in Queensland, with his company Waratah Coal proposing two coal mines and a power station in the Galilee Basin.
The ABC can reveal that Waratah Coal has recently met with three State Government departments in two separate meetings to discuss the company’s plans for a coal-fired power station in the Galilee.(Emphasis added)
That is, a 1400-megawatt coal-fired power plant. Last year Palmer approached the Qld government about developing a 700-megawatt coal-fired power station in the same region, and was told:
- “We just do not need a coal-fired station in Queensland. We have the youngest, most efficient coal-fired fleet of power stations in the nation.”
The same answer was given when Palmer came back this year during the election period. However, Palmer is persisting with his proposal. What will be the Queensland government’s answer now, after the federal election?
I recall in 2017 Jim Soorley, who was on the board of CS Energy which owns the last coal power station built in Qld at Kogan Creek, saying that CS Energy looked at the possibility of building new coal to serve North and Central Qld. The economics just did not stack up.
It seems clear that Palmer is looking to install coal-friendly governments that will not only permit him to progress his plans, but might be persuaded to chip in some support from infrastructure funding.
Senator Canavan, who looks after the Northern Infrastructure Fund, and Angus Taylor, the minister for electricity prices, are more than likely to oblige.
If Queensland were wiped off the map,
as some south of the Tweed have suggested, Labor would have won 62-59 in a 121-seat chamber, with the 59 comprising 54 LNP, 1 Green and 4 Others, (Wilkie, Haines, Stegall and Sharkie), so Queensland matters. Australia, sans Queensland, voted for a Shorten-led Labor government.
In Queensland Labor suffered a 3.9% loss primary vote. Palmer, who did not run in 2016, gained 3.5%, and One Nation, which ran in 17 seats it did not contest in 2016, gained 3.4% to make their vote 8.9%, not far short of The Greens, who gained 1.3 to make 10.1%. The LNP only gained 0.6 to make 43.8, but Labor, already low, lost a further 4.2 to make 26.7%. If that doesn’t add up, Other, which would include Katter’s party, contesting mainly in the north, lost 3.2% leaving the category with 6.9%.
Queensland is complex, with multiple narratives, but overall preference flows are critical. Last election One Nation preferenced against sitting members, which helped Labor. Not this time. Palmer was new, and did a preference deal with the LNP, which further worked against Labor.
A big factor, however, leaving aside the fact that Bill Shorten personally found the going harder in Qld than elsewhere, was the dishonesty in advertising and in campaign statements.
I did not take much notice of Palmer’s adds, because I did not need my brain polluted with this dishonest garbage:
Ads like the one below were few and far between, but require actual reading to decode the message:
The message should have been, 10 million lower paid Australians will get better tax relief out of Labor. Even then we have more words than can be taken in by a three-second exposure, and what images would you use?
There was a torrent of Liberal Party adds using this photo-shopped image of Shorten in various formats:
Supplemented with adds like this one from the REIA:
And really ugly ones like this one from Cherish Life: which formed part of a half page ad in the Courier Mail during the week before the election:
The claim was that Shorten was going to introduce late term abortion laws allowing terminations up to the 37th week. I think it was Ed Husic who said he was surprised that abortions were an issue on polling day.
We hear that Boris Johnson could go to jail under UK laws:
- On Wednesday, a London judge ordered Johnson to appear in court over allegations that he misled the public during the 2016 campaign for the U.K. to leave the European Union. According to a summons by private prosecutor Marcus Ball, Johnson—a member of Parliament and former London mayor—“repeatedly lied and misled the British public as to the cost of E.U. membership,” falsely claiming that the country was paying Brussels 350 million pounds per week.
Applying such a law in Australia could cut a swathe through our politicians.
Penalties for false and misleading penalties after the event will not stop the bad behaviour. In my view we need prior fact checking and a clearance by a panel of visually literate ethicists.
During the campaign Labor took the view that they would spend their time talking positively about their own policies. As did Kim Beazley in 2001. Their defense and counters to attacks based on spurious and misleading talk, and outright lies, was poor. However, how could they defend an attack based on distorted visual imagery?
On the Q&A program immediately after the election, The Wash Up, a panel selected to review a Labor victory, Christopher Pyne defended the Palmer campaign, saying that Clive Palmer had the right to spend his money however he chose.
Yes, there were other factors, but Kill Bill worked. We have come to the point where a campaign can be run by a political party based on personal attacks and scare campaigns rather than policy. When this is supplemented by a billionaire with unprecedented funds mounting a direct and personal attack on the opposition leader in order to further his own commercial interests, our bright shining democracy starts to look like just another kleptocracy in a world where democracy is struggling.