Queensland businessman Clive Palmer says he will take the WA government to the High Court if it passes extraordinary legislation to terminate a legal claim said to be worth around $30 billion over his Pilbara iron ore interests.
Mr Palmer also warned business investment in WA would dry up if state Parliament passed the law, while casting doubt over the size of his claim against the government over the Balmoral South iron ore project.
“When they say it’s $30 billion, well that’s their admission,” he told 6PR radio.
“It seems extraordinary to me.”
Mr Palmer said the damages he had incurred in relation to the project were still being assessed.
WA Attorney-General John Quigley told state Parliament yesterday Mr Palmer and his company Mineralogy were taking action against the WA government for nearly $30 billion for damages associated with the iron ore project in the Pilbara region.
In response, the government has introduced urgent legislation into Parliament in an attempt to prevent the damages claim, which amounts to the state’s entire annual budget.
Emergency bill ‘unconstitutional’: Palmer
Mr Palmer’s mining proposal was rejected in August 2012 by the then-government, specifically by former state development minister and premier Colin Barnett.
Mr Palmer and his companies allege they suffered enormous financial loss, including damages, interest and costs, because they were unable to sell the project to a Chinese company as a result of decisions made by the state over the past decade.
The McGowan government’s bill seeks to prevent WA from paying the damages which it says would cost every man, woman and child in the state $12,000.
But Mr Palmer said the government’s emergency legislation created sovereign risk and destroyed WA’s reputation as a secure place to invest.
“This emergency legislation is unconstitutional,” he said in a statement.
“Ultimately this matter will end up in the High Court of Australia”.
Row between Palmer and WA deepens
Mr Palmer has already taken High Court action against the WA government over its hard border closure, arguing that is also unconstitutional.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Mr Palmer questioned the timing of the government’s legislation given his recent High Court challenge.
“The actions of the WA state government to pass legislation against me is an act of intimidation because I exercised my right to challenge a decision that is unconstitutional,” he said.
“The legislation they have passed to try and stop me and my company has been done a week after the Premier declared war on me and declared me an enemy of the State.”
The WA Liberal party room will meet at 11.30am this morning to decide whether to support the legislation.
In a statement, Opposition Leader Liza Harvey said members had not had time to digest the “complex matter”, given the issue was raised late last night.
Parliament’s sitting has been pushed back until late this afternoon to give the Opposition time to consider the bill.
The government has urged the Opposition to give bipartisan support.