The tit for tat defamation stoush between Queensland businessman Clive Palmer and West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is set to stretch well into the new year.
The pair’s legal teams traded submissions in the Federal Court again on Friday, on a preliminary application related to some elements of the case.
Mr Palmer filed a defamation claim against the premier in August with Mr McGowan launching his own counter-claim a month later.
In a two-hour hearing on Friday, counsel for the premier, Rob Anderson QC went, in some detail, through the defence to the counter-claim filed on behalf of the mining magnate in a bid to have it struck out.
Mr Anderson said he well understood that his application was a difficult one.
But he said it was not a matter of the court considering each and every aspect of what had been argued but rather to look to the cumulative effect of those points that were capable of surviving a strike-out application.
“Assume the best case for Mr Palmer and he still can’t succeed, that’s the submission that I make here,” Mr Anderson said.
Counsel for Mr Palmer, Peter Gray SC, said such an application was required to pass “quite a high bar” with a defence only to be struck out if it was untenable or hopeless.
“In our submission, in today’s matter, we are nowhere near that kind of territory,” he told the court.
“This strike out application is without merit and should be refused.”
Justice Richard White, who presided over the remote hearing from Adelaide, reserved judgement on the application and ordered the matters return for a further case management conference in April next year.
He also ordered that the topic of mediation remain “on the agenda”.
The defamation proceedings come as Mr Palmer is also battling the state of Western Australia in the High Court after issuing writs earlier this year.
They relate to extraordinary legislation passed in WA’s parliament in August to amend a 2002 state agreement with Mr Palmer’s Mineralogy company and terminate arbitration between the two parties.
The bill is designed to block Mr Palmer from claiming damages from the state.
Mr Palmer is seeking almost $30 billion in damages over a decision by the former state government not to assess one of his mining projects.
The High Court is likely to hear that matter in the first half of next year.
Mr Palmer, via Mineralogy, is separately pursuing further damages from the WA government with a claim of “unconscionable conduct” in the Federal Court.
Mr McGowan has confirmed WA taxpayers will foot the bill for his private lawyer in the defamation case but any potential benefits would be returned.