Enter the Member for Fairfax

IF ANYONE has ever wondered what is meant by the old saying, “be careful what you wish for”, then do what Hogsback suggests and keep a close eye on the likely new member for Fairfax in the Australian Parliament, self-proclaimed billionaire, Clive Palmer.

Staff Reporter

For most people that advice will be easy to follow because Professor Palmer (as he likes to be called) has become a regular feature on the television sets in their living rooms.

Either Queensland’s loudest, if not most famous, son is berating a Chinese company for not paying royalties he believes are due, or installing life-size plastic dinosaurs on a golf course, or declaring that he will build a replica of the world’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic, or declaring that he will spend $6.4 billion developing a big coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

The list of things Palmer says he will do goes on, and on. According to a spokesman last May the Professor will invest $1 billion upgrading the Yabulu nickel refinery near Townsville, float his master company, Mineralogy, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and seize the position of “kingmaker” in the Australian Parliament.

It is quite a list and while most of his ambitions will not be satisfied it is going to be exciting to watch how he allocates his time and money if he does secure the seat of Fairfax. This is an event that does seem likely to occur despite his recent outburst that the election process was rigged and the United Nations should investigate, another sure-fire headline grabber.

Why the man leading in the vote-counting reckons an election is rigged is a question no-one seems to have pressed with Palmer. The Hog’s view is that when you’re in front keep a low profile and enjoy the ride.

Palmer, as most people in mining know, cannot keep a low profile. It is just not in his genes, and therein lies what could become quite a challenge for the man who launched his own political party to attack the politicians who had been attacking him.

For a while Palmer will have a free hand in verbally whipping his opponents from his seat in the House of Representatives, while the Senators who are members of his Palmer United Palmer might indeed be able to exert some control over the recently elected government of Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

However, after a while the novelty of Palmer the Parliamentarian will wear off – on him and the general public.

First to lose interest in Palmer will be the public, perhaps courtesy of the Australian media, which will delight in reporting everything said by the member for Fairfax, no matter how outrageous.

Shortly after the public looks away, no longer shock-able by a Palmer proclamation, the man himself will begin to wonder what on earth he is doing in Parliament.

Yes, he got there – well done! Yes, he proved his critics wrong – well done! Yes, he now has a public podium to scold members of the Labor Party, especially the former Treasurer and leader of the attempt to launch a class war in Australia, Wayne Swan – also well done!

Revenge, even if served cold, which is when it is said to be most enjoyable, is still just revenge and after a while it loses its attraction.

What the voters of Fairfax will want from their local members will be performance. The words are fun, but delivery is more important and as a lone voice for the Palmer United Party in the lower house of the Australian Parliament the man himself will discover that there is not much he can do.

It might be different in the Senate, but Palmer is not in the Senate. Members of his party are, and perhaps they will do what he wants, but whether they can change the plans of the government is another question.

The big two issues Abbott wants to see pushed through the new Parliament, abolition of the mining and carbon taxes, are hardly likely to be opposed by Palmer after he campaigned so heavily against them in the past.

Blocking supply, or refusing to pass the Budget, is a tactic no longer available because the Senate agreed to never do that again after the furore over the sacking of the Whitlam Government in 1975.

So, while Parliament is proving to be frustrating for Palmer there is the question of his business interests, and how they can be effectively managed while serving the people of Fairfax.

The issues for Palmer are the same as for everyone else: time and money.

Even if Palmer says he has more money than most he certainly does not have more time than anyone else.

How, wonders The Hog, will Palmer find the time and money to develop his China First coal project, or his Yabulu nickel refinery, or fight Sino Iron for back royalties, or install extra dinosaurs, or supervise the building of the Titanic replica.

Palmer, naturally, says he can do everything. Others doubt that, but it is certainly going to be fun watching him try while wondering whether the man himself is thinking about the meaning of being careful what you wish for.

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