Australian tycoon Clive Palmer launches United Australia Party
Flamboyant mining magnate unveils party as 'viable alternative' in September election
Australian tycoon Clive Palmer, who is building a replica of the ill-fated Titanic, yesterday unveiled his new political party and said he would run in the country's September 14 elections.
The flamboyant mining magnate was a long-time supporter of the opposition Liberal-National coalition but gave up his membership last year after a bitter dispute with the government in his home state of Queensland.
Palmer now plans to re-form the United Australia Party, which dissolved in 1945, and contest all 150 lower house seats in the national polls, and seats in the upper-house Senate.
"The reason I'm standing is to be the next prime minister of Australia," said the larger-than-life Palmer, who runs Waratah Coal and Resourcehouse Limited and calls himself one of the country's richest men.
"I have no personal interest. I have made enough money in my life, I'm not seeking any enrichment of wealth for myself, I'm seeking it for the Australian people. I could go off and stay in Monaco, have a nice drink and forget about this country, but we've got more commitment to Australia and its children than anyone else."
He joins a growing list of high-profile candidates including Australian-born WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who intends to run for the Senate.
Palmer has been at loggerheads with Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Labor government over its carbon tax, which he says is ill-conceived and will cost companies dear.
He said his party, which is adopting the name of the predecessor to the conservative Liberal Party, would be a viable alternative to Labor and the Liberals.
"Julia Gillard and the Labor government are on the nose but Australians are also clearly disillusioned with both the major political parties," he said.
"By reforming the United Australia Party we are offering a viable alternative. The United Australia Party stands for bringing people together.
"Politics today is based on politicians blaming and fighting each other; there is no leadership and no plan to grow the economy. United Australia Party will represent all."
Palmer claimed the party had a number of "notable Australians" who wanted to stand and said his policies included scrapping the carbon tax retrospectively and arranging for asylum-seekers to fly to Australia to seek protection.
Gillard, who is badly lagging in the polls, refused to comment, but former prime minister Kevin Rudd called Palmer's move a "stunt". Opposition leader Tony Abbott insisted there was only one viable candidate in the elections - himself.