Jun 30, 2014

Maverick or political dinosaur? A weekend with Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer was in fine form at his Fairfax Festival Weekend, spouting folksy wisdom and avoiding tricky questions. Freelance journalist James Rose was there to experience the madness.

The most important things in life are “a bed to sleep in, a woman who loves you and to be able to pay for the next meal. Beyond that everything is an illusion." So intoned the man who stands between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his legislative agenda. Clive Palmer, the people's billionaire, was fired up with folksy shtick at his Fairfax Festival (the federal seat, not the ailing media behemoth) as he golf-carted between media engagements and public forums in his very own resort, glad-handing happy voters and taking compliments.

A bemused crowd, presumably some of the 100,000 or so voters Palmer told us he invited along to pretend they could afford to stay at the formerly ritzy Palmer Coolum Resort, shuffled among the robotic dinosaurs and the classic autos. Having grown up on the Gold Coast, there was something familiar for me in the endearingly naff displays, the glaze-eyed kids and the parents trying to be entertained. The mid-morning presser in the Marcoola Room attracted maybe 15 note-takers, a bevy of cameras and was pretty much pointless. The questions flew as the nation's hacks attempted  -- vainly -- to find chinks in the dinosaur-thick carapace of Clive of Coolum. Fuel excise indexation, the carbon tax, Queensland politics, local politics, accountability, party finances were all fired at him. He ducked and weaved and sustained not even a flesh wound. And then Palmer was back in his golf cart with long-suffering media adviser Andrew Crook and was away.

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