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Clive Palmer's playing it safe with his latest political donation

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With the Queensland election only weeks away, Clive Palmer has made his first donation to the party he founded.

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Electoral Commission of Queensland records show the party, formally known as Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, received a $40,000 donation on August 12.

But unlike millions of dollars’ worth of other self-directed political donations in recent years, this contribution came from Palmer personally, not his flagship company Mineralogy or another related entity.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission recently charged Palmer with fraud over the multi-million-dollar bankrolling of his political party during the 2013 election campaign. Money from Mineralogy helped secure Palmer a seat in parliament, albeit only for a term.

ASIC has alleged the transfer of more than $12 million to Palmer’s party, then known as the Palmer United Party, was “contrary to the purpose for which the funds were being held” by Mineralogy.

While Palmer has denied wrongdoing, and accused ASIC of concocting the allegations, his latest personal donation would appear to avoid any risk.

The donation was made on the same day Palmer pulled out of testifying to a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s relationship with China because he had a cold – only to then hold a press conference with journalists on the Gold Coast.

Palmer is also involved in an extraordinary dispute with the West Australian Government, where he has sued for a reported $30bn over a blocked mining project only to be hit with legislation intended to block his claim. He has also challenged border restrictions during the pandemic.

In his home state of Queensland, Palmer’s party appears to be off to a slow start to the election campaign. According to the party website, only four candidates have been preselected in the 93-seat contest, including former footballer Greg Dowling. Palmer had expected to preselect 40 candidates by now, and likely run 70 candidates in total.

Under new electoral expenditure caps, Palmer can direct up to $92,000 to each candidate. He has vowed to “give Labor the boot” and talked up the potential for his party to decide the outcome of the election, under the leadership of Dowling.

Dowling this year lost his bid to become mayor of Townsville, where Palmer has had business interests. For that council election alone, Palmer contributed around $540,000 – from Mineralogy accounts – in a failed attempt to unseat the incumbents.

That pales in comparison to the $83 million Palmer spent, via Mineralogy, on the 2019 federal election. His party failed to win a seat but Palmer claimed to have helped block Labor’s rise and ensure the re-election of the Coalition government.

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