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Federal election 2019: Did Clive Palmer’s $70m cash splash pay off for United Australia Party?

As The Beatles once sang: Money can’t buy me love. But Clive Palmer was hoping yesterday it could buy him a seat in Parliament.

The Queensland billionaire was last night eagerly waiting to see if his $70 million spend-a-thon had delivered him his own WA senator this Federal Election.

With the final make-up of the Australian Senate still days from being known, Mr Palmer’s No.1 Senate pick for WA, James McDonald, was fighting for one of six WA positions up for grabs in this election.

United Australia Party (UAP) leader Clive Palmer.United Australia Party (UAP) leader Clive Palmer.
Camera IconUnited Australia Party (UAP) leader Clive Palmer.Picture: APIMAGE

With Labor’s Pat Dodson and Louise Pratt as well as the Liberals’ Linda Reynolds and Slade Brockman all but assured of being re-elected to the Senate, Mr McDonald, One Nation’s Peter Georgiou, Greens’ Jordon Steele-John and the Nationals’ Nick Fardell were vying for the other spots.

The Liberals were yesterday confident of securing a third WA senator this election, meaning the United Australia Party, One Nation, The Greens and The Nationals could all be fighting for just one Senate spot.

“We are expecting three (senators),” a senior Liberal source said yesterday.

Not since 2016, when Mr Palmer’s only remaining Senate MP, WA’s Dio Wang, lost his seat at the double dissolution election, has the Queensland mining magnate had a politician in the Federal Parliament.

Mr Palmer was yesterday attempting a political comeback, throwing himself into the running for a seat in the Senate with his United Australia Party.

Big-spending Mr Palmer has spared no expense this election trying to buy a seat in Parliament, with his candidates lavished with gifts and getaways to his Queensland resort during the campaign.

VideoJohn Oliver has aimed his brutal style of take-down comedy at Australian senate hopeful Clive Palmer.

Mr Palmer also sang to his troops, jumping on stage at a weekend getaway in Queensland for his candidates singing We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twister Sister.

And Mr Palmer boasted to his troops that he’d be spending $70 million this election campaign, making his — and their — election dreams come true.

Full-page advertisements across the nation’s newspapers and a daily bombardment of radio, TV, digital and billboard advertising were proof that money was no obstacle for Mr Palmer.

But it wasn’t all jingles and smiles.

Mr Palmer used his millions to wage a war of words with WA Labor Premier Mark McGowan in full-page adverts in newspapers.

He accused the Premier of being disloyal to Australia by trying to intervene in a bitter impasse between his company Mineralogy and its estranged joint venture partner, the Chinese-owned CITIC.

Mr McGowan is threatening to take the radical step of rewriting a State Agreement with Mr Palmer’s company in order to allow a key iron ore project to go ahead.

It’s understood Mr McGowan is looking to insert a new clause in the 2008 State Agreement with Mineralogy that would allow CITIC to expand its mining operations without needing an agreement from Mr Palmer. Mr McGowan mocked Mr Palmer for calling him Mike in an aggressive full-page advertisement taken out by the Queenslander.

VideoMark McGowan is poised to take a radical step to rewriting a State Agreement with Clive Palmer’s company Mineralogy in a bid to save 3000 jobs

“I took a photograph of that and I said to my brother Michael ‘Clive Palmer doesn’t like you’. But seriously, that guy is a menace.

“Not Michael, but Clive Palmer,” Mr McGowan told a gathering of business leaders.

“And I look forward to your support when we take some action with regard to him.”

A Palmer candidate said yesterday the party was well and truly “in the hunt” for a WA Senate seat.

“Everyone in WA is pretty confident,” the source said.

“The aim has always been to get senators elected.

“We’ve known that getting anyone elected to the House of Representatives was near impossible.”

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