One thing is already clear to me about the upcoming Federal election: Clive Palmer doesn’t deserve another chance as a parliamentarian.
In my years as a journalist I always tried to be apolitical in my reporting. I still believe serious journos should keep their personal opinions to themselves and report the unvarnished facts. But, sometimes you have to speak up.
It’s time for new blood and new ideas. It’s time to walk away from the reptilian politics that is destroying civil public discourse. And it’s definitely time to fight against the simplistic nonsense Palmer is peddling in his inane advertising blitz in the lead-up to the election.
But the main reason we must push back against blokes like Palmer is because they lack imagination. Everything about Palmer and his latest party is derivative.
He’s repurposed the Palmer United Party into the abandoned name of the United Australia Party, which existed from 1931 to 1945 and was the forerunner of the Liberal Party. He’s stolen and adapted Trump’s ‘Make America Great’ slogan - itself stolen from Ronald Reagan and George Bush Snr (in 1980) and Bill Clinton (in 1991). And for his campaign anthem, he’s ripped-off Twisted Sister’s song, ‘We’re not gonna take it’, apparently without permission.
Even the party’s manifesto seems to have been written on the back of a napkin over a long lunch. On the United Australia’s Party’s website, its “National Policy” extends to four paragraphs and, extraordinarily, the first plank in the platform is that “party officials should not be paid lobbyists”. The party will ensure this to “save taxpayers’ dollars” and it will introduce “Fair Policies” (unspecified).
The second plank is the wonderfully vague notion of “revising the current refugee policy to ensure Australia is protected and refugees are given opportunities for a better future and lifestyle” (again no detail).
The third is “creating mineral wealth” (wonder where that came from) “to continuously contribute to the welfare of the Australian community”. Clive’s team will do that by “utilising mineral resources from Queensland and WA”, together with unspecified Commonwealth Government incentives “to establish downstream processing” in Victoria, NSW and SA and exporting products “at a higher dollar value, thereby creating more revenue, jobs, tax and more facilities” … how hard can that be?
Finally, the last plank in this threadbare platform is “establishing a system where people create wealth in various parts of the country and for that wealth to flow back to the community that generates the wealth.”
Clive is the George Costanza of Australian politics. The only thing we can be certain of is that, as always, he’ll emerge from the shambles he leaves behind as a richer man. You have to give him credit in that department. But we can’t give him another turn at living off the public teat while he reprises his vacuous grandstanding in our Federal Parliament.
Now, more than ever, we need representatives of substance, with beliefs of their own, who are not self-centred, but rather have a wide vision, imagination, a sense of public service, compassion and who can offer concrete policies.
Billionaires like Trump and Palmer need to get new hobbies … we won’t cop it anymore!