After a couple of false starts and much speculation, billionaire businessman Clive Palmer has acted on his decision to enter politics, by starting his own political movement, the United Australia Party. Labor and the LNP have greeted this with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
Much of the commentary at present is doubting that he can get it up and running in time for the federal election, due in September, and it will take a very streamlined organization to have the party registered in time with the deadline for applications somewhere around the middle of next month. Palmer though, has a substantial business organization around him with the necessary skills readily available. If anyone can pull it off, Clive Palmer can.
While the entry of the UAP adds to an already crowded field of new or smaller parties vying for their place in the sun, it is a good thing to see a political party led by a businessman who understands how the real world works. The only other party with a businessman at the helm is the Liberal Democrats, the rest being led by political functionaries.
Most new political parties are given the silent treatment by the major parties and the media denying them oxygen and coverage, however this is not possible with Clive at the helm. He is a larger than life character who is not afraid to be himself, resulting in the situation where there is so much public interest in him that he is a publicity magnet.
Probably the snarkiest statement came, predictably from Labor with the comment by former NSW Treasurer, Michael Costa who said, ”… This is farcical, … look, this is a limelight deficiency for him and he is out trying to drum up some media attention and it’s a joke. Joh [Bjelke Peterson] had some credibility, he was a state premier, a long serving state premier, but this guy has no credibility at all”
This highlights everything that is wrong with political perceptions in this country, in that it assumes that regardless of the quality of the people behind the party, it cannot work without experienced people of the sort who got us into the current mess in leadership positions. It’s as if we need a solid core of those who know how to game the system and are prepared to play by the rules set down on stone tablets that guarantee that nothing changes.
After the next election, there will be numerous former MPs and departmental advisors who would be happy to advise a party of clean skins who have attained power. With care, it should be relatively easy to hire the best of them as consultants if they are actually needed.
The UAP can be found here. At present it is a bit light on policies but we shall see what develops.