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The political party that will hold the balance of power in the Senate has “no positions on anything”.

Federal leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer, said he and his Senator-elects would not take a position on any legislation until they saw the bills.

Mr Palmer, who is still waiting to hear whether he will join parliament as the Member for Fairfax, said he was taking a ”wait and see” approach.

Clive Palmer announces Glenn Lazarus will be the Palmer United Party's Senate leader.Clive Palmer announces Glenn Lazarus will be the Palmer United Party’s Senate leader. Photo: Amy Remeikis

”It is not for us to talk about hypothetical things, it is only for journalists to create headlines and say what might happen,” Mr Palmer said during a press conference to formally announce Glenn Lazarus as the party’s Senate leader.

”We have no positions on anything. We are completely neutral until we see the bills.”

Mr Palmer had campaigned heavily on refunding the carbon tax during the election. Mr Palmer’s private company, Queensland Nickel, has contested a $6.2 million carbon tax liability it was ordered to pay after it failed to provide the carbon units required by June 17.

But he interrupted Mr Lazarus’s to answer a question on whether Mr Palmer’s business interests would influence future policy direction taken by the party.

”Conflict of interest is about personal interest, my interest, right,” he said.

”If I have an interest I will declare it. It is not about parties having conflicts of interest, it is a lot of bullshit, right. It is a beat up by the press. It is about personal interest. If I have a conflict of interest and it is relevant, I will declare it.

”Glenn hasn’t got a conflict of interest because he is a member of our party. That is just a lot of rubbish really, that is the law.

”Tony Abbott had guys in there. That could affect their interests. So did Malcolm Fraser, so did Bob Hawke. It is just a lot of rubbish. Just a beat up by you guys, because you haven’t got much news.”

But he added that the carbon tax ”may not even be an issue” because it could be resolved in the next nine months, before PUP senators-elect Jacqui Lambie, Dio Wang, Mr Lazarus and the Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir – who has politically aligned himself with Mr Palmer – take up their positions.

”It is premature for us to have a position until we know what the status quo is, it will change a lot between now and the next nine months,” Mr Palmer said.

”History tells me that.”

Mr Palmer, who always plays better to a crowd, had invited members of staff to his Brisbane press conference. A handful of his employees sat against the wall. He reiterated that if was to win the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, he would ”retire and become a wall flower”.

But he did make time to touch on his current pet-topic – electoral reform.

Since recounting began in Fairfax, where in the last count, Mr Palmer was ahead of Coalition candidate Ted O’Brien by 20 votes, Mr Palmer has called for an overhaul of the system.

”We need a process that is above board and has the right protections,” he said.

”In Fisher and Fairfax we have two ex-military officers and we have a situation where the ex-commander at Duntroon is one of the assistant election commissioners. It is highly inappropriate to have the military or ex-military involved with the election process, I think.”

But while he said he still wanted to go to Canberra because ”the meals are wonderful in Parliament House” and he hoped to be able to ”gee up” Bob Katter and help him ”get things moving”, he said if he wasn’t elected, he would ”still make a speech and you [journalists] will come and see me”.

”I go down to Canberra and I get up into a chamber where there is nobody sitting, get used to talking to nobody and I am allowed to do one speech every two weeks, right,” he said.

”While I am here I can do two or three speeches in two weeks and even have a press conference. It doesn’t make much difference to me, because with Glenn and Jackie and Dio and Ricky all working together in the Senate, that is more important really, than what I can possibly do as an individual.”

Mr Lazarus said he was ”humbled” Jackie Lambie and Dio Wang had nominated him as the leader


October 16th, 2013

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