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Palmer back to court in $30b suit against "disgraceful' state laws

Business

Clive Palmer’s $30 billion battle with the state of Western Australia might finally be resolved when the two parties return to the High Court.

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The full bench will convene in Canberra on Tuesday for a hearing expected to span the rest of the week.

Palmer is representing himself, while his company Mineralogy is being represented by barrister David Jackson QC.

It relates to extraordinary legislation passed in WA’s parliament last August to amend a 2002 state agreement with Palmer’s Mineralogy company and terminate arbitration between the two parties.

The bill, described by Palmer as “draconian and disgraceful”, is designed to block the Queensland mining billionaire from claiming damages from the state.

Palmer is seeking up to $30 billion from WA taxpayers over a decision by the former Liberal state government not to assess one of his mining projects.

He claims the legislation, introduced by the McGowan Labor government and hastily passed with the support of opposition parties, is unconstitutional.

In written submissions filed to the court, Palmer argued against the legislation on several fronts including that it discriminated against a resident of another state.

“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Australia before,” he said in the submissions.

Lawyers for the state of WA dismiss this claim, saying the legislation would have had the same effect if Palmer were a West Australian resident.

Their submission says the legislation was passed “in order to protect Western Australians from the crippling effects” that a $30 billion damages claim would have on the state.

The federal government recently filed a notice of intervention rejecting Palmer’s position. NSW and the Northern Territory have also intervened in support of WA.

Queensland is not supporting either party but has submitted the legislation does not discriminate against Palmer on the basis of his Queensland residency.

Victoria submits that there is no breach of Section 117 of the constitution.

The High Court last year struck out Palmer’s constitutional challenge to WA’s hard border closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Palmer also has a defamation claim against WA Premier Mark McGowan before the Federal Court.

The pair were last week ordered to meet “face-to-face” mediation in a bid to resolve their dispute. It is expected to happen before the end of September.

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