MINING magnate Clive Palmer has declared his intentions to challenge Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott for the position of Australian Prime Minister, with the billionaire launching his campaign for federal parliament earlier today.
Palmer announced his candidacy for the Sunshine Coast electorate of Fairfax at the launch of the newly formed United Australia Party. He claimed that United Australia Party candidates would contest all 150 electorates in September’s federal election, relying on the Australian public’s disaffection with both major parties to draw support and win government.
Palmer said: “I am running to be the Prime Minister of Australia. I am standing because I think I can offer better service to the community than anyone else. Now is the time for Australia to claim back itself. I am fed up with watching television and seeing Tony Abbott who is no different to Julia Gillard.”
The United Australia Party is a resurrected version of a previous Australian political party of the same name, which served as a precursor to the modern Liberal Party as the nation’s dominant conservative party. The original United Australia Party was dissolved in 1945, enjoying an almost seven decade absence from Australian politics.
Palmer claimed that, over the coming weeks, the United Australia Party would reveal its candidates for the upcoming federal election, promising that they would include “major figures in politics, in this nation’s history.” He said that, despite his party’s Queensland origins and conservative philosophy, it was not formed to compete with the similarly fledgling Katter’s Australia Party.
Palmer said: “We are not there to offer or to compete with the Katter party, we are there to change the government of this nation and that is the reason we are standing.”
Former Prime Minister and fellow Queenslander Kevin Rudd hit out at Palmer’s play for political office, labelling the formation of the United Australia Party a “stunt” and questioning why it took the prominent businessman until five months before the federal election to declare his intentions.
Rudd said: “The thing with Clive is, why on earth are you doing it now? If you are going to run and you are going to put a lot of money in behind your campaign, at least the Australian people have the right to put you under some scrutiny about what policies you would take to an election and whether they should be supported or not. I think this last minute stunt like Clive has got in mind is not good because people want to know what you would change.”
Opposition Treasurer Joe Hockey described Palmer as a “fairly unique individual” and said that he would be interested in what the Mineralogy founder’s political platform would be if he was elected to nation’s highest office.
Hockey said: “He (Palmer) out there in his own orbit and he is entitled to that place. I’m with Kevin (Rudd), I want to see his policy.”
Clive Palmer rescinded his life-long membership of the Liberal-National Party last year after coming into conflict with recently elected Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. He initially intended to run for parliament against federal Treasurer Wayne Swan in the electorate of Lilley, however withdrew from the pre-selection process before his nomination was taken to a party vote.