Clive Palmer once compared Scott Morrison to the Nazis but the Prime Minister confirmed on Tuesday he’s a forgiving man and is ready to open negotiations on preferences.
As billionaire businessman Mr Palmer attempts to buy his way back into politics with a $30 million advertising plunge, the Liberals are preparing to talk preference deals with him.
In the lead-up the 2016 election, Mr Palmer compared Mr Morrison to the Nazis’ Heinrich Himmler.
Asked on the campaign trail on Tuesday whether he could “possibly preference him with that record”, Mr Morrison said it wasn’t a problem.
“I did see some comments he made about an approach when we made a criticism some years ago. Look, I’m not going to be held back by that, nor am I here to offer any defences of Mr Palmer,” Mr Morrison said.
“He’s big enough to do that for himself. Parties will have discussions before close of nominations and the preference tickets, which will be issued next week in the normal course of events.
“But if we’re talking about preferences, though, what I want to understand is why the Labor Party is going to preference the Greens ahead of the Liberal Party when the Greens are for death taxes and shutting down jobs in central Queensland and north Queensland.”
— Clive Palmer (@CliveFPalmer) April 20, 2016
Labor leader Bill Shorten said he wasn’t going to be “distracted” by the United Australia Party.
“There is only one person who has been resurrected and I won’t compare Clive Palmer to him, I won’t get distracted by Clive Palmer,” Mr Shorten said.
Mr Palmer has enjoyed a mighty political resurgence in recent months.
According to the latest Newspoll, released late Monday night, his United Australia Party is polling a stunning 14 per cent in the Queensland seat of Herbert. Mr Palmer held the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax from 2013-2016.
His resurgence could deliver a silver lining for the Liberal Party, which is likely to secure his party’s preferences in key marginal seats.
But in good news for Labor, the poll suggests the sitting Herbert MP, Cathy O’Toole, is still in with a chance in the seat that had been feared lost. The latest poll has it at 50:50.
Surprisingly, the poll also suggests Labor is also still in front 51:49 in the seat of Lindsay, despite the scandal surrounding departing MP Emma Husar, who bowed out after trouble in her office with staff.
In good news for the Liberals in Victoria, Michael Sukkar looks set to retain Deakin.
Attorney-General Christian Porter is facing a tough fight in the Western Australian seat of Pearce. The result is so tight, at 50:50, that the outcome might not be known on election night.
Mr Palmer’s UAP is also polling 8 per cent in the WA seat, which could come in handy for Mr Porter when preferences are distributed.
After bursting onto the national political scene in 2013 with his Palmer United Party and securing 5.49 per cent of first preference support nationally (and 11.02 per cent in Queensland), Mr Palmer’s party lost its last sitting member in 2016.
Expensive billboards of his grinning face and thumbs up, urging voters to “Make Australia Great”, have dotted the country for months.