Federal Election: Clive Palmer's biggest controversies

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·News Reporter
·4-min read
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Clive Palmer, billionaire businessman and founder of the United Australia Party, is a divisive figure to say the least.

Never far from the front page, Palmer has been attached to a number of topics from mining, sport, business and politics.

Here's are some of the biggest headline-making moments in Palmer's career as we approach the Federal Election in which he is seeking a senate seat.

Clive Palmer gives the thumbs up
Clive Palmer, Chairman of the United Australia Party, is Australia's seventh richest person. Source: Getty

The road to politics

Palmer has iron ore, nickel and coal holdings. He also owns many businesses including Mineralogy, Waratah Coal, Queensland Nickel, the Palmer Coolum Resort, and a number of golf courses. He was also the owner of the Gold Coast United football club from 2008 to 2012.

He then turned his hand to politics, forming the Palmer United Party in 2013 before winning the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax in the Australian Federal Election of the same year. He served one term as the local MP.

He formally de-registered the party in 2017, only to resurrect it the following year under a new name, the United Australia Party. The new party ran candidates for all 151 seats in the lower house while he ran for a position in the senate, but none were successful.

Singer Dee Snider and Clive Palmer
Singer Dee Snider (left) of the US hard rock group Twisted Sister and Clive Palmer clashed when Palmer used the band's song 'We're Not Gonna Take It' in 2019 campaign advertisements without permission. Palmer was fined more than $US1 million for breach of copyright. Source: Getty

Queensland Nickel

In 2009, Mr Palmer bought Queensland Nickel, which operates the Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery in North Queensland.

After turning a large profit in the first year of operation, Palmer rewarded 50 staff with Mercedes Benz cars and a number of overseas holidays. The honeymoon period didn’t last long however, with the business entering voluntary administration in 2016.

Election banner
Election banner

Despite being the business owner, Palmer refused to pay the entitlements of workers when the operation closed and instead blamed the administrators for closing the facility. The federal government then stepped in to pay the workers’ entitlements.

After a long legal battle, Palmer reportedly paid out $110 million for the workers’ entitlements after initially offering only $7.16 million. He also repaid the federal government for the entitlements it paid to workers.

Titanic II

In 2013 to great fanfare, Mr Palmer announced that he would finance construction of a modern-day replica of the RMS Titanic, which famously sank in 1912. The Titanic II would carry 2,435 passengers and 900 crew members, and would be operated by Palmer’s company Blue Star Line, which referenced the original Titanic operator White Star Line.

But with little news about the monumental project since its inception, many assume the project has been sunk. Blue Star Line issued a media release in 2018 stating the project was still underway but nothing has been said since.

Two men in front of Clive Palmer billboard
United Australia Party chairman Clive Palmer is spending millions on advertising and fielding candidates across every seat in the Federal Election. Source: Getty

Fraud charges

In March 2020, Palmer was charged with four counts of fraud relating to alleged "improper" money transfers before the 2013 Federal Election.

The charges were brought about by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which accused Palmer of using his position as company director of Mineralogy to fund the Palmer United Party.

Some of the charges attract a prison sentence of up to 12 years. The matter was adjourned several times and will be next heard on June 1, 2022.

Gold Coast United FC

After buying the Gold Coast United football club in 2008, in 2009 Palmer made a decision to cap attendances of Gold Coast United home games at Skilled Park stadium to 5,000, in an apparent attempt to avoid transport subsidies the club needed to pay on larger crowds. Needless to say the move didn’t go down well with fans and Football Federation Australia (FFA) stepped in to ensure the idea got the boot.

Following a number of breaches of FFA regulations, Palmer’s license for the club was cancelled. Palmer took the matter to the Supreme Court but lost.

Covid-19/pneumonia diagnosis

In March 2022, Palmer contracted pneumonia and Covid-19 at the same time and refused to go on a respirator.

Palmer instead opted to be treated with banned drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, which he attributes to saving his life.

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