Remember when Clive Palmer was a national joke?

He twerked on the Kyle and Jackie O Show, and we laughed. He recorded a ridiculous theme song (“He’s got 12 boats and he needs your vote / He doesn’t like Liberal, Labor or the Greens / He likes pies and cream / He wants your vote / Tony Abbott is his rival / He likes jam with his trifle …”). Hilarious. He was building an absurd replica of the Titanic (which has hit its own metaphorical iceberg of red tape and bad planning), and his dinosaur park tickled our fancy.

And he was so rude! He told Tony Abbott to “commit suicide” (later clarified to be “political suicide”), and we shook our heads in shocked bemusement. He told Tony Jones to “shut up” and hung up on 2UE. He made “goodbye” videos (“Goodbye Bronwyn”, “Goodbye Tony”) and fell asleep in Parliament. What a cutup. What a card.

He was certainly generous with his money, at least when it came to holding onto political influence. Palmer spent nearly half a million dollars on TV ad buys during the Western Australian Senate do-over in 2014. The Liberals spent $53,000 and Labor $63,000 in WA during the same time period.

But while he was distracted making silly videos and songs, things were going very badly for his company, Queensland Nickel. The company went into voluntary administration, and 237 people lost their jobs. Another 550 will be terminated today unless some business miracle can save their jobs.

No one’s laughing anymore.

Peter Fray

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