Clive Palmer Announces He Will Not Contest Fairfax

Clive Palmer has announced that he will not contest the seat of Fairfax at this year’s election.

Palmer made the announcement during a valedictory statement to the House of Representatives. He left open the possibility that he might run for the Senate instead.

In his speech, Palmer defended his business interests, claimed he had been persecuted by the media, and itemised a long list of alleged achievements of the Palmer United Party.

Palmer, 62, won the Queensland electorate of Fairfax from the Liberal National Party by 53 votes in 2013. He polled 26.49% of the primary vote and won on preferences.

  • Listen to Palmer’s speech (15m)
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Hansard transcript of Clive Palmer’s valedictory speech.

Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (11:23): In my maiden speech in this parliament, I stated clearly that I do not believe, and our party does not support, the development of professional politicians. I believe that a parliament should be a forum where citizens serve and bring the benefit of their life experiences, whatever they are, to the important issues of the day for the benefit of the nation.

Now, at the end of the 44th Parliament, it is time to reflect on what our party has contributed to the national debate and what our achievements are. Unfortunately, politics relies attacks on individuals and not on sound policy discussion. Rather than endlessly attacking individuals in parliament, debate in this chamber should focus on the agenda for the nation. Personal integrity is an important quality that needs to be at the very heart of public service. Any person seeking public office must realise that it is not about him but about service for the greater good. In this place all members must repress their own personal interests for the benefit of the nation and the citizens of Australia who elect them and put Australia’s interest before their own.

True to my maiden speech, having concluded my service in the 44th Parliament of this House of Representatives, I will not seek further election to this House at the next election. I will use this opportunity to address a number of important issues and set out our party’s achievements in the 44th Parliament. Palmer United will contest Senate elections in every Australian state. Palmer United’s voting record has been clear in the 44th Parliament and that is why the electorate needs to judge at the coming election. I have been continually personally attacked over last three years by centrally controlled media, which is, by its very support for the two-party system, a danger for democracy in this country. All of the so-called scandals and media questions have amounted, in hindsight, to nothing. And the same is true about the current lies and criticisms, which I will deal with later in this speech.

The status quo of this country is threatened by any third-party political force in politics and will mobilise itself in many ways on both sides politics—the union movement, the banks and the Public Service—to seek to destroy diversity and public debate in our political system. This is the real reason for unprecedented political attacks against me personally and the stand that we took as a party against the 2014 budget. I and our Senate voting positions have rarely been subject to proper recognition, including the contributions that the Palmer United Party has made to Australia. The three main attacks against me personally related to my private business—not my service in this chamber—which are 100-per-cent owned by me, have no mum and dad investors, and no bank debt. In my electorate of Fairfax, they attack me over Coolum Resort, which is still operating and employing people and was to be closed permanently in 2011. Campbell Newman and the LNP state government refused to allow it to be redeveloped, which would have created over 10,000 jobs on the Sunshine Coast. As a result of 10 years hard work, I secured over $12 billion investment from China, which has resulted in the employment of tens of thousands of Australians in the construction of China’s largest investment outside of China. This investment is 15 per cent of China’s total investment in Australia over the last 10 years. It should not be forgotten that such an investment has made a real contribution to our economy.

More recently, I have personally been criticised with respect to Queensland Nickel. In 2009, when the price of nickel was $7.50 a pound and BHP had decided to close the refinery, every Australian should have asked themselves: would they have invested their life savings to save over 2,500 jobs in Townsville? I know the member for Herbert would not have. Over the last seven years, would they have invested $4 billion to keep 2,500 families employed? Then, over the last two years, when the nickel price had dropped to around $3.50 a pound, would any citizen have been happy to continue to lose $6 million a month for the families of Townsville? Would anyone have given over $2.5 million of their personal savings so that everyone could be paid at Christmas and keep the refinery open? These are the decisions I made in the affirmative. Why? Because I have a strong and real commitment to North Queensland. The Liberal Party inspired report by the administrator friend of the member for Herbert is untrue. I personally and my companies have never received one dollar of Queensland Nickel’s own funds, nor has any person employed ever been dismissed and nor were any workers’ entitlements refused by me or anyone that I employ.

The allegations against me have been made for an improper purpose. On 1 March 2016, the administrator stated that, unless he received $10 million that week, he was going to close the refinery and sack all the workforce. He made the same demand to the Queensland government. On 3 March 2016, the joint venture partners, Qni Resources Pty Ltd and Qni Metals, 100 per cent privately owned companies of mine, resolved to appoint a new company that was not in administration as the manager of the joint venture. I personally put up some of my private assets and secured a $23 million line of credit, instead of the $10 million that the administrator was seeking, and I planned to make that available to the new manager to keep the refinery open and the workforce employed. Under the Queensland joint venture agreement, the old manager of Queensland Nickel, on appointment of the new manager, was required to transfer the joint venture bank account, together with other assets and general approvals that Queensland Nickel had, to give the new manager the ability to run the refinery.

The millions of dollars in joint venture bank accounts and debtors, when added the $23 million that I had personally arranged through my personal efforts, would have allowed the business to continue to employ 550 people. John Park decided that he would not transfer the bank account to the joint venture, as he was legally required to do. Park treated the joint venture fund, which was not Queensland Nickel’s money, as his own personal piggy bank. The allegations made by Mr Park are completely false. The allegations made against me by political parties, which I have endured over the last three years or since I have been elected to the House of Representatives, are also false.

In the resources industry in Queensland, 22,000 jobs have been lost; in South Australia, 14,000 jobs are threatened. The government has done nothing and proposes to do nothing. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has injected 30 billion yuan into the metals processing industry in China, and the Canadian government gives free electricity to its metal processing industry. How can Australian industries compete with such things? Why does the government want to destroy this country and its infrastructure? Because they are incompetent.

The Treasurer becomes more and more like a public servant. Last night’s budget talks about jobs growth, but it has no substance and no policy. The average Australian family pays $20,000 per year, over $1 million in their working lives, but they cannot access the savings that they pay into superannuation to buy a home, to care for their children or to deal with some disaster, yet the Liberal fund managers make margins on their funds each year and the union delegates benefit from managing their funds in superannuation. Palmer United will fight hard to get the balance of power in the Senate to protect the savings of Australian families and make them available to them during their lifetime rather than when they are dead.

Even before I had taken my seat in parliament, then Prime Minister Abbott, in one of his first decisions in cabinet, adopted the Palmer United policy that we took to the 2013 election to ban political lobbyists from holding office in the Liberal Party. Then, on behalf of the Palmer United Party, I introduced a bill to stop the GrainCorp takeover. Following the pressure generated by this takeover, the then Treasurer, Joe Hockey, made the correct decision to stop the GrainCorp takeover. On 25 June 2014, I hosted the former Vice President of the United States, Mr Al Gore, in the Great Hall of parliament, where I announced that Palmer United senators would vote to save the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Authority. If Palmer United had not saved them then, the Prime Minister could not have changed the government policy to support them in 2016. I also announced, against the wishes of the Abbott government, that Palmer United senators would vote in the Senate to abolish the carbon tax to ensure that the savings in the reduction of the carbon tax would be passed on to consumers of electricity and gas. Palmer United votes in the Senate were essential for those decisions. The Parliamentary Library has estimated that the savings to consumers by Palmer United staying firm and ensuring savings were passed on were $1.6 billion. Palmer United effectively reduced electricity prices across Australia by 10 per cent. Palmer United provided the key votes to abolish the mining tax, to free up investment in Australian projects.

Palmer United led the charge against the 2014 budget and highlighted to all Australians that Australia’s debt was amongst the lowest in the OECD. In 2014 we campaigned for pens instead of pencils to be used in future federal elections to mark ballot papers. Palmer United worked hard to stop the GP co-payment, which would have made visits to the doctor unaffordable for our disadvantaged and elderly population, and our votes in the Senate were crucial. I remember giving a speech in the House about education. Palmer United stopped changes to universities, much to the disappointment of the then education minister. The 2014 budget had over $10 billion in cuts to social security, requiring unemployed people under the age of 30 to wait six months for the dole. Decisive action by our party ensured that these measures would not be passed and therefore not implemented by the government. Palmer United saved the low income super contribution for over two million Australians, keeping $1 billion in their pockets. It is pleasing to see that the Treasurer has adopted this policy and continued it in the budget last night—only changing the name to claim credit.

The Prime Minister believes in innovation, but innovation does not put food on the table. We voted in the Senate to keep the schoolkids bonus, saving Australians a further $1 billion a year to support their children when they go to school. It is a disgrace that neither Labor nor Liberal party is going to the election with a policy to maintain this bonus for our families. We kept the low income support contribution, of which $1.8 million is paid to Australians each year. It was our votes that did that in the Senate.

We need in this country more love and forgiveness and more compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. A Palmer United deal with the government freed over 436 children and families from detention. We freed 1,500 people in total from Christmas Island. Following an arrangement with the then immigration minister, Palmer United supported legislation in the Senate that resulted in 30,000 detention cases finally being resolved. It was the Palmer United initiative which resulted in the introduction of the SHEV, the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa. Palmer United made 15 changes and amendments in the Senate on Direct Action legislation and passed it. We have watched and seen how Direct Action has succeeded in reducing Australia’s emissions. As part of the deal, the Climate Change Authority was to conduct and is still conducting a study into the introduction of an ETS in Australia. Palmer United kept hope alive for the introduction of an ETS in Australia. The CCA plans to report to the parliament after the next election.

Palmer United supported changes to pensions for all veterans and ex-service men and women over 55. Palmer United initiated by agreement with the government, the opposition and others for three parliamentary inquiries: one into trade investment and growth, one into the Australia Fund and one into the Queensland government. Palmer United acted through me to introduce a bill in respect of the foreign death penalty. We have protected maritime workers’ jobs, and our votes in the Senate were crucial in keeping Qantas Australian-owned. In the Senate, we stopped changes to the income tax threshold and the extension of the pension age to 70. We saved jobs in the Australian offshore gas industry—you can look at the voting record on that in the Senate. Palmer United successfully voted against slashing university research grants.

Earlier this year I delivered a speech on gender equality, and the following month I asked the Prime Minister two questions pointing out that there needed to be a minimum of 40 per cent minority gender on all Commonwealth bodies. On 8 March 2016, the Minister for Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash, announced that the government would commit to increasing the target to 50 per cent representation across all Australian government boards, with a minimum of 40 per cent on each board, implementing Palmer United’s policy.

You do not always need the numbers. Good ideas will be recognised by those around you, if they are adopted. With others, it is real recognition. Time remains one of the most important things we have. It does not matter how much money you have. We are all prisoners in time. That is why our nation needs to respect all those who serve in this place and give up part of their lives for our country. This is your time, whoever you are and wherever you are. This is your opportunity now and tomorrow. Do not be dragged down by the past. Do not be held back by the judgement of other people. The Bible tells us that we should not sit in judgement of others. Do not judge others, as we have our own race to run, and I believe life is full of opportunities.

I would like to thank my daughters, Mary, Lucy and Emily, and my son, Michael, who are an inspiration in my life. I feel that with the love and support of my wife, Anna, I could contribute further to our great country.

Public service is not just about parliamentary or government service; there are thousands of Australians serving our country all over Australia. I hope I can go on serving our country in the future. Courage remains one of the important things that I most admire in life. We need to have courage to let go and to move on. I believe I have that courage today, in leaving the House of Representatives, satisfied with what Palmer United has done, and knowing that it would be a different Australia if we had not stopped the 2014 budget and the Newman government in Queensland. We need to praise the incorruptibility of our public officials, the integrity of our marriages and the worth of our people. It is ideas that matter—governments may come and go, but ideas go on forever. It is ideas that will shape this nation; it is ideas through time, when we are gone and forgotten, in history, in commerce and in politics, that capture the consciousness of the nation and will endure. It is ideas that endure when all else is gone. We need to unite this nation we serve and we love, to discover our future, to share our trials and tribulations, to overcome adversity and to pull together for the common good under the Southern Cross. As a wise man once said: ‘On earth, God’s work must truly be our own.’

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