Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has contacted the Chinese embassy, reassuring Australia’s largest trading partner that expletive comments made by PUP leader Clive Palmer were not representative of Australian attitudes.
“He’s in the middle of a bitter legal dispute and shouldn’t use his public position as a member of parliament to insult one of our major strategic and economic partners,” Bishop told The Australian.
Following Palmer’s televised tirade on Tuesday where he labelled his foreign business partners “Chinese mongrels” and “bastards”, the Australian government has been repairing the potential damage inflicted upon our international relations.
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett issued a public statement declaring the Fairfax MP an “embarrassment”, while Labor representatives and business leaders said Palmer’s comments may have a severe impact on trade.
Palmer took to social media in an attempt to water down his outrageous remarks, claiming his comments were directed at his Chinese business partners and not the People’s Republic as a whole.
— Clive Palmer (@CliveFPalmer) August 18, 2014
Embarrassingly his colleague, PUP Senator, Jacqui Lambie took the comments a step further, suggesting politicians should ramp up defence spending to protect Australia against “a Chinese Communist invasion”.
“Today China is controlled by an aggressive, anti democratic, totalitarian government. We need to double the size and capacity of our military right now,” she said in an email to the media.
It was just a few years ago – in 2011 – that Palmer was defending China’s right to investment in Australia, while in 2009 he claimed the Australian government should treat Chinese people with “the dignity they deserve”.
A sokesperson for the Chinese embassy said the PUP leader’s latest remarks were “absurd and irresponsible” and “full of ignorance and prejudice”.