Clive Palmer
Clive Palmer (Image: AAP/Dan Peled)

The federal government’s sudden reversal of its support for Clive Palmer’s High Court challenge to West Australia’s border closures was ostensibly related to safety fears and the health of the nation. But Scott Morrison’s political health was at risk as well.

As the angry backlash escaped the borders of WA to the rest of the country, the prime minister belatedly realised that Palmer is almost as toxic as the virus itself.

He took his time. All last week Attorney-General Christian Porter was in the media defending the court case, and on Wednesday the PM ramped up the rhetoric warning that Palmer was “likely to win”.