Clive Palmer spoke at the National Press Club on Wednesday.
Clive Palmer spoke at the National Press Club on Wednesday. Brett Wortman

Press gangs up on Palmer

THE National Press Club's infatuation with the new Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer continues as the backlash grows in the electorate to his claims he didn't care about the resort that sits at its centre.

Mr Palmer, the Palmer United Party leader, has fronted the National Press Club in Canberra three times in the past six months and for the fifth time in the past two years.

His appearance yesterday as guest speaker for the club's first lunch of 2014 defied a tradition which has seen the prime minister of the day take first billing at the start of the parliamentary year.

Attempts by experienced Canberra commentators to pin Mr Palmer on issues ranging from the potential for tailings from his Townsville Queensland Nickel mine to pollute the Great Barrier Reef through to his run-ins with the Australian Electoral Commission were either deflected with humour or batted away with attacks on the Murdoch press.

Questioned about sackings at his Palmer Coolum Resort, he said the resort remained a great place to go and invited journalists to visit, then attacked their failure to report the loss of 900 News Ltd jobs including editors he believed were not prepared to write what managing director Rupert Murdoch wanted.

He ignored questions about the impact job losses at Coolum may have on his political aspirations.

The 650 people employed at Coolum had been trimmed to just 200 by last Friday when all staff were required to reapply for jobs in what was to be a severely restricted workforce.

Initial fears that only 50 workers would remain appear pessimistic, with sources saying it was more likely that between 70 and 80 would be retained.

Mr Palmer, meanwhile, made clear his party was eyeing the balance of power after the upcoming Tasmanian elections.

He switched to pantomime, singing "Goodbye, goodbye Campbell Newman goodbye Campbell Newman goodbye" to showcase the lyrics of a television advertising campaign he will run before the Redcliffe by-election - where PUP will not stand a candidate.

"Campbell Newman criticises people for who they associate with, not who they are,'' he said, criticising the Premier for locking up suspected bikies and their associates for 22 hours a day under the VLAD laws.

But Mr Palmer said he would not fund a court case to challenge the VLAD laws, saying elections should determine such matters.

 

JOBS PROBE

The investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman into the employment practices at the Palmer Coolum Resort is continuing.

The workplace watchdog has confirmed the Ombudsman launched an investigation relating to the entitlements of staff at the resort owned by mining magnate and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer in November, 2013.



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