Clive Palmer is a man of, well, contradictions. He lambasts policy positions he disagrees with as “communist” but enthusiastically endorses the Chinese Communist Party line on Australian foreign policy. He declared he was canning a number of projects in response to the RSPT before admitting that he wasn’t doing anything of the sort. He styles himself “Professor” despite not being entitled to use such an honorific outside limited circumstances. He bankrolled the establishment of a new political party, the LNP, in Queensland, before falling out with it the moment it actually got into power. He claimed the CIA was in cahoots with the Greens, then admitted he’d made that up to distract from attacks on the LNP.

Now Clive could be on course for the best contradiction yet: head of a political party that isn’t a political party.

As you know, Clive has decided, when not building a new Titanic or chasing dinosaurs around golf courses, to bankroll a new political party, his previous creation having turned on him. This new entity, which will presumably appeal to the much overlooked billionaire voting bloc, will be called the United Australia Party and will stand candidates in every electorate. Or so Clive of China claims.

To register as a new political party, an application needs to be accompanied by a list of 500 party members who are on the electoral roll. In order for registrations to be processed and accepted for the September 14 federal election, the Australian Electoral Commission has said it needs applications by May 13.

“If a party applies after Monday 13 May 2013 their application for registration will not be processed in time for the party to be registered by the AEC for a 14 September election,” warned Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn in early April.

The alternative is to register as a parliamentary political party — i.e. one with a parliamentary representative already elected. Palmer claimed today that within 24 hours at least one and maybe more sitting MPs would defect to his new party. If they are federal MPs or senators, it would remove the requirement to furnish 500 members. If they’re merely state MPs — and to steal a line from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the LNP is going to pieces so fast people are getting hit by the shrapnel — or if Clive is just bullshitting, it still means he needs 500 members. In a fortnight.

It’s a tough ask, but those who mock Clive Palmer’s skills at grassroots political organisation do so at their peril. Clive claimed last year to have doorknocked over 4 million Queensland homes since he first got interested in politics in 1969. That’s 14 homes an hour, 342 homes a day, 125,000 homes a year, for over 30 years, non-stop.

With that sort of track record, finding 500 people will be a doddle.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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