Clive Palmer has declared he won’t spend a single dollar on the upcoming Western Australian election while taking aim at the “inept” state Liberal leader.
The billionaire’s ongoing feud with Premier Mark McGowan had raised expectations he would campaign against the Labor government’s re-election, having bankrolled radio and television advertisements targeting the premier last year.
But Mr Palmer, who has ruled out running candidates at the March poll, says he has no plans for another advertising blitz.
“I don’t intend spending one dollar in the Western Australian election,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Our democracy is not a plaything for Clive Palmer or any other shallow millionaire who has nothing better to do with his time and money. https://t.co/HzVt3Pt8gY
— Zak Kirkup MP (@zrfk) January 10, 2021
Mr Palmer’s United Australia Party splashed more than $89 million on his failed bid to return to federal Parliament in 2019.
The McGowan government last year introduced legislation that would have capped individual donations on election campaigns, but failed to get it through Parliament before it was prorogued.
Mr Palmer confirmed he still intends to pursue defamation proceedings against Mr McGowan, who has launched his own counter-claim.
He said his solicitors had written to representatives of the premier and Attorney-General John Quigley offering to withdraw a contempt claim against them in the High Court “in a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness”.
The contempt challenge relates 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.
It is designed to block Mr Palmer from claiming almost $30 billion in damages over a decision by the former state government not to assess one of his mining projects.
Mr McGowan on Monday said he still expected Mr Palmer to launch a “major” advertising campaign against the government.
Newly installed WA Liberals leader Zak Kirkup welcomed Mr Palmer’s decision not to run in the election, saying “our democracy is not a plaything for Clive Palmer or any other shallow millionaire who has nothing better to do with his time and money”.
Mr Palmer responded with a lengthy diatribe, predicting the 33-year-old first-term Opposition leader would lead the Liberals to further electoral ruin.
“Western Australian voters are better to vote for Labor than to vote for someone who just copies the Labor Party and offers no policy or alternative,” the mining magnate said.
“Mr Kirkup does not have to worry about me donating to the Liberal Party or anyone else donating while he is leader. No one could support such a no hoper.”