Clive Palmer and Ricky Muir threaten to play hardball in the Senate

The news that mining tycoon Clive Palmer has formed an alliance with new Motoring Enthusiast Party senator-elect Ricky Muir, to effectively control the balance of power in the new senate, as of July next year, is an interesting new development in Australian politics.

Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party was a bit of a phenomenon at the recent federal election, proving the old adage that in politics, money talks. With his high public profile, slick media performances, and millions to spend on political advertising, Palmer had no problem attracting candidates for his new party, even if his party had no apparent philosophical base, and very few actual policies.

And some of the policies they did have, such as flying asylum seekers into Australia on a 747 to be quickly processed, could be deemed as downright crazy. But it seemed to be a case of, “I’m Clive Palmer, I’m not like the others, and I’ve got a lot of money, so trust me!”

The Palmer United Party attracted quite a mixed bag of ambitious candidates, from former football stars, to Chinese and Indian businessmen, to an ex-One Nation politician.

But the outspoken and media-friendly Palmer has been a visible public figure for many years, especially in his home state of Queensland. Intelligent, straight-talking, and a slick salesman, Palmer was able to aptly point out many of the faults with the Australia’s dominant political parties, and with the political system. This struck a chord with many Australians.

The mainstream media lapped up the never-dull Palmer and gave him plenty of focus, probably because he was like the mad uncle you invite to the party, knowing that, at the very least, he will spice things up, and provide a few talking points and a few laughs. And besides, the Rudd v Abbott show wasn’t exactly inspiring to the Australian public.

And so hundreds of thousands of Australians voted for Clive Palmer, most likely because he was the most visible option to lodge a “protest vote” against the Coalition-Labor-Greens triopoly.

But whilst neo-conservative commentator Andrew Bolt has dismissed Palmer as being a “buffoon”, it would be wrong to underestimate the formidable businessman. Palmer was for a long time, a supporter and benefactor of the Queensland National Party (that later merged with the Liberal Party to become the Liberal-National Party, or LNP).

When the new Queensland LNP government blocked a mining project of Palmer’s, he quit the party and started his own. According to past business and political associates, Palmer is a “shrewd and persistent opponent” who “will fight hard to get his way and seek reprisal when he doesn’t”.

Palmer’s recent threat to “block any legislation” (no matter how valid) unless his new PUP MPs were given more staffers and resources, shows that he may also be bringing his “my way or the highway” approach to federal politics.

Ricky Muir, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be quite the slick media performer that Clive Palmer is.
Muir was elected as a Victorian senator, due to enormous help from preference allocations, whilst gaining just 0.51% of the primary senate vote in Victoria himself.

Mr. Muir was probably very shocked that he actually won a senate seat, and it would seem that he is perhaps quite unprepared for his new responsibility. On being elected, Muir shut off his mobile phone, and refused to do media interviews. Instead, he quickly became notorious as the “Roo Poo” senator, due to an old video of him on YouTube, where Muir was filmed with his mates, engaging in some silly backyard antics involving kangaroo dung.

But in forming an alliance with the Palmer United Party, Ricky Muir has suddenly become a powerful individual, and it’s probably comforting for him to know that Clive Palmer “has his back”.

The Australian Protectionist Party welcomes the emergence of fresh voices and fresh ideas to the Australian parliament. We are delighted that the Greens (who seem to be more red than green) will no longer control the balance of power in the new senate, and also that neither of the major parties will have outright control.

We understand that Palmer is basically of the political “right”, and will not (thankfully) be pushing for bigger government or socially progressive causes. However, we do have grave doubts, in that Clive Palmer appears to be very supportive of continued mass Third World immigration, and will almost certainly be very accommodating of the Chinese regime’s ambitions in regard to Australia. (The Chinese, of course, are Palmer’s biggest corporate customers). And with Tony Abbott planning to finalise a new Free Trade Agreement within the next year, this could be very significant.

Palmer’s stated opposition to the mining and carbon dioxide taxes should be welcomed, but he should not play games with the balance of power in the senate. For him to suggest that Tony Abbott has “zero” mandate to eliminate the CO2 tax, smacks of arrogance. If Palmer becomes too obstructionist, or goes against the wishes of his mostly conservative voter base (in the way that Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott did in the last parliament), then Palmer will be duly punished at the ballot box.

In the long run, the Palmer United Party is very unlikely to remain united for long. The lack of a coherent philosophical base, and the undoubtedly highly ambitious nature of the candidates it attracts, will almost certainly result in eventual division. And with Australians reluctant to vote in large numbers outside of traditional voting patterns, it’s hard to see the PUP becoming a permanent force on the Australian political landscape.



  1. Robert Menzies, in a rare moment of good judgement, once said:

    “A man may be a tough, concentrated, successful money-maker and never contribute to his country anything more than a horrible example’

    I’d like to think that our current crop of corporate magnates might have the interests of Australia at heart, but I tend to think not.

  2. The new senate from next year will be an interesting mix,certainly no worse than the rabble there at present.
    Whoever they are,they should be speaking for Australians.
    Australia in 2050 will have no manufacturing(as a result of ‘free trade’ agreements with Thailand,etc which has zero benefit for us),no family run farms-the Chinese will own all the land that matters, we’ll be 30% Christian European stock,and possibly have Sharia law-its well known that Muslims want things run their way once they become the majority-the result of ‘leaders’ who indeed went in to stand for Australians………..
    Not like Japan,where only Japanese only are allowed to live,despite having an aging population. Why this continues to slip the radar decade after decade I don’t know.If a Western country had their immigration policy there would be a huge U.N./Left outcry,and the odd sanction or ten.
    Whoever is in government or the senate,start governing for Australians……

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