As the 2013 election is drawing to a close, the Coalition is settling into power with a long-expected win – but the victory few saw coming was for eccentric Rich Lister Clive Palmer.
The votes are still being counted, but Palmer is likely to have won the lower house seat of Fairfax and former rugby league player Glenn Lazarus and Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie look set to enter the Senate for the Palmer United Party.
Palmer could achieve a 7.9% swing against Liberal National candidate Ted O’Brien, with more than 76% of the votes counted.
SmartCompany contacted Palmer this morning, but no comment was available.
Palmer revealed yesterday he fancied himself a kingmaker, as he told AAP his support saw the Liberal Party elected.
“We had 6% and we preferenced the Liberal Party. The swing against Labor was 4.5%.”
“Without Palmer United’s preferences, Tony Abbott would not be prime minister,” he says.
As early as Saturday night the congratulations started pouring in for Palmer on Twitter, despite the seat remaining undeclared.
In an interview on Sunday morning with the ABC, Palmer said he was confident the party would have two lower house seats and three upper house seats, but in a shock move said he would not be changing his business obligations.
“The first thing we want to do is to say that as a company director in Australia under corporations law I’ve got to declare any interests – I’ve got to leave the room and not participate in discussion.
“Unfortunately in federal politics, in cabinet, there’s no such requirement. So firstly, we’ll be asking our politicians to be accountable and understanding, which they haven’t got at the moment, and we will be seeking to highlight that when Parliament resumes,” he said as quoted by the ABC.
Should Palmer have achieved the impossible and won the election, he would have “turbo-charged” economic growth by allowing companies to pay tax annually rather than quarterly.
Palmer also pledged to reduce income tax rates by 15%, increased the aged pension by 20% and inject $80 billion into the health system.
The founder of Marketing Angels, Michelle Gamble, told SmartCompany Palmer’s success was driven mostly by his stash of cash.
“Clive Palmer’s success as a first time party had a lot to do with his cash flow, which resulted in large advertising spending. With Palmer, it was not quite as much about branding, but all about advertising dollars.”
“Advertising is critical and Clive Palmer has won on advertising more than anything,” she says.
Gamble says Palmer’s marketing push made people pay attention.
“I heard the radio ads and while they were bad ads, they got people’s attention. People then go and find out more about him and his policies and they become interested in the party.”
“Advertising really does pay off in an election. People really don’t scratch the surface in terms of going and actually looking at the policies, so it’s the bullet points in the election ads which really make the difference,” she says.
Palmer is not shy about discussing his wealth. The mining magnate has not revealed how much he personally spent on the campaign, but has publicly said it was worth “many millions of dollars”.
But it’s not just about money, whether intentional or incidental, Palmer attracts attention and was already a well-known name.
Late last month a video of Palmer and radio shock-jock Kyle Sandilands “twerking” like Miley Cyrus went viral, attracting attention from media outlets nationwide.
In the lead up to the election he said the Liberal and Labor parties were incapable of running a “tuck shop”.
The eccentric entrepreneur has also previously announced plans to recreate the Titanic and to build the world’s biggest dinosaur park at the Coolum resort on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Most recently he garnered attention by threatening to sue Rupert Murdoch over an opinion piece which said he had overstated his wealth and qualifications.
These endeavours have caused some politicians to question Palmer’s suitability for parliament, including National’s frontbencher Barnaby Joyce who told ABC TV Parliament will be “pandemonium” if Palmer is elected.