Billionaire mining magnate turned politician Clive Palmer has commenced legal proceedings against Queensland Premier Campbell Newman for defamation.
Palmer is claiming more than $1 million in damages after Newman said the leader of Palmer United Party and member of parliament had tried to “buy” the Queensland government.
Newman made the comments about Palmer during a media conference with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on April 27.
When asked about the defection of three Country Liberal Party MPs in the Northern Territory, Newman attacked Palmer.
“This is a man who tried to buy a government – my government,” Newman said.
“We said ‘go away’. We said ‘we’re not for sale’. I ask : what inducements were offered to these three MPs?”
A writ against Newman was lodged in the Queensland Supreme Court and has been served on the premier through the Crown Solicitor.
Palmer said Newman’s claims were totally false and damaging to his integrity.
“These comments by Mr Newman can’t be allowed to go unchallenged,” he said in a statement.
Palmer said if he is awarded any damages from Newman they would be donated to Mission Australia to assist the charity with its work to help sacked Queensland public servants.
A spokesperson for Newman was reticent to comment to SmartCompany on the law suit, saying the Premier was “busy sorting out the mess left in Queensland by the Labor party”.
“We’re delivering more jobs for Queenslanders, delivering the best elective surgery wait lists in Australia and will continue working to lower the cost of living for families,” the spokesperson said.
Palmer is no stranger to litigation, saying in the past he thinks of lawsuits as a hobby.
That’s lucky because The Australian reports Palmer’s private company Mineralogy has been accused of wrongfully siphoning more than $12 million from Palmer’s Chinese business partners in a dispute currently before the Federal Court.
The Federal Court in Perth was told yesterday there were “serious questions” about the unauthorised use of large sums of money that Chinese backed CITIC Pacific had put aside in a bank account for the operation of a port at its Sino Iron mining project in Western Australia.
Andrew Bell, the lawyer acting for CITIC, told the court some of the money had been used to pay thousands of dollars to a Palmer United Party candidate.
A spokesperson for Palmer told SmartCompany the claims were “an ongoing court matter” so she was unable to comment yet.