Mining magnate Clive Palmer has refused to say whether he will put up his hand for Liberal National Party preselection to run against Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, a day before the nomination deadline.
Mr Palmer summoned journalists to a media conference in his Brisbane office this morning, repeating his comments from last week that asylum seekers should be allowed to fly to Australia.
He is expected to fly to Tahiti within the next day on a business trip, prompting questions as to whether he will follow through on his previous plans to stand for LNP preselection in the southeast Queensland seat of Lilley, given the deadline is tomorrow.
“You’ll have to find out tomorrow; tomorrow’s the closing date,” the LNP donor and life member told reporters.
“I won’t tell you today because I promised [public relations adviser] Andrew Crook I wouldn’t.”
Mr Palmer, standing in front of a backdrop emblazoned with Lilley-themed election slogans including “Swan’s song”, said he had not filled in his nomination form as yet and wanted to keep journalists on “edge”.
“I don’t think it’s predictable what will happen tomorrow,” he said.
“There will be more things happening tomorrow than you could possibly imagine.”
Mr Palmer, who last week confirmed he had had an expletive-laden argument with Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott over a lobbyist issue, was asked whether he was deterred by Mr Abbott’s lukewarm support for his candidacy.
“Maybe I’m not a good candidate; I don’t know. Maybe I haven’t served the party long enough,” he said.
In late April, Mr Swan greeted Mr Palmer’s announced interest in preselection by saying that the Liberal Party stood to become a “wholly owned subsidiary of Clive Palmer” if the mining magnate was successful in the battle for the Lilley nomination.
Mr Palmer said today he did not want to be a minister, prime minister or even a member of parliament, but there were issues that needed to be addressed, including asylum seeker policy.
He said he did not want to be indifferent to the plight of those risking their lives at sea.
Mr Palmer said people should not be barred from purchasing an airline ticket to Australia if they did not have a valid visa.
Instead, they should be dealt with upon arrival at an Australian airport and if necessary sent on a flight back, he said.
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