Peter Martin: Palmer and Abbott will get what they wantShock and Gore: Palmer shows his hand on carbon taxThe Pulse live blog with Judith Ireland
Clive Palmer certainly knows how to draw a crowd … even if it’s only reporters.
And they turned out in droves because this promised to be no ordinary late afternoon press conference.
The venue chosen, Parliament House’s gargantuan Great Hall is, like the man himself, unorthodox, cavernous, larger than life.
In more than a decade of this correspondent covering politics in the big house, the Great Hall was a first for a press conference – after all, the lavishly timbered hall, more often used for royal receptions, grand balls, and state dinners, can comfortably seat 650 people.
Still, it seemed big whatever it was. The word had gone around on Capital Hill that the political equivalent of royalty would be joining the big man for some kind of ”major” announcement.
Who was it though? Mel Gibson was one wag’s suggestion, claiming Palmer might have convinced the actor of well-known conservative bent, to come on board.
Then the truth – as reported first by Fairfax Media.
It was Al Gore. Former US vice-president, narrowly defeated presidential candidate, and one of the world’s most high-profile environmental activists.
Curiouser and curiouser. Surely these two men had little in common.
What magic could bridge the obvious divide between the greener than green maker of the world-beating film An Inconvenient Truth, and a millionaire coal and nickel miner schooled in the development politics of Queensland’s notorious ”white shoe brigade”?
Why would Gore lend his support to the PUP, unless that is that Palmer was about to renege on his ironclad commitment to scrap the carbon tax, which seemed unlikely even for him.
But then reading Clive has never been straightforward.
Pretty much since the 2013 election when the conservative populist crashed the citadel managing to get not just himself elected, but another three Palmer United Party senators, the mercurial millionaire’s positioning has been a puzzle.
And now, on the eve of a long-denied one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Palmer was to unveil his final position.
First on stage was Glenn Lazarus – ”the brick with eyes” – and senator-elect for Queensland who will head up the party’s upper-house team.
A short introduction later and Palmer and Gore were there, Palmer, a JFK fanatic in his spare time, praising the American.
Palmer would scrap the carbon tax but insist on conditions to ensure energy savings flowed all the way to consumers. He would keep the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and protect the Renewable Energy Target. And he would insist on an emissions trading scheme, but with a price of zero.
Twelve minutes later it was all over as Palmer explained they had to attend an ”urgent” dinner.
So urgent that no questions were allowed. Not one.
A man’s gotta eat, I guess.
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