Mining billionaire Clive Palmer says he wants to be prime minister of Australia.
He has announced the formation of the United Australia Party and is planning to have candidates contest all 150 seats in the September 14 election.
Here’s what key people are saying about his decision.
Julia Gillard said his plans to enter politics were “a question for Mr Palmer and the appropriate party registration processes,” but lashed out at him for claiming neither big political party cared about indigenous infant mortality.
“That claim is complete rubbish from Mr Palmer,” the Prime Minister told ABC Radio in Darwin.
“We’ve been very focused on indigenous mortality rates, child mortality … so the facts are always good to acquaint yourself with and I suggest Mr Palmer acquaint himself with those facts.”
Kevin Rudd called Mr Palmer’s new party a “last-minute stunt” launched just five months before the general election on Channel Seven’s Sunrise programme.
“Anyone in Australia can stick their hand up and have a go, it’s democracy,” Mr Rudd said.
“But the thing with Clive is why on earth are you doing it now? If you are going to run and you are going to put a lot of money in behind your campaign, at least the Australian people have the right to put you under some scrutiny about what policies you would take to an election and whether they should be supported or not.
“I think this last minute stunt like Clive has got in mind is not good because people want to know what you would change.”
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott dismissed Mr Palmer’s declaration as frivolous.
“I suspect that if there’s another party on the fringe it might compete with Mr [Bob] Katter’s party,” he said.
“I’m very, very confident that the people of Australia are very savvy here.
“They are going to vote for the people who are serious.”
Federal MP Bob Katter of Katter’s Australian Party said it reflected the changing nature of the political landscape.
“There is a universal disgust and contempt for the mainstream parties,” he said.
“I mean, every election now there is 20 or 30 per cent out there up for grabs.
“Australians are waking up to the fact that they don’t have to have a two-party system, and it has been diabolical for Australia.”
Former Senate president and Tasmanian Liberal Party elder Paul Calvert said the parties would both be limited to Queensland “rednecks”.
“You know what North Queensland’s like – they’re a little different – ‘rednecks’, I think they’re called up there,” he said.
“They seem to be one-issue or two-issue parties, and I think at the end of the day we’ve got a large percentage of voters who’ve already made their minds up, a large percentage who will look at the overall policies rather than one or two things.
“I think Clive Palmer’s party will be a bit like his Titanic he was going to build. It will just disappear.”
Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said Mr Palmer was a “fairly unique individual”.
“He is out there in his own orbit and he is entitled to that place. I’m with Kevin, I want to see his policy.”
Katter’s Australian Party national director Aidan McLindon told Fairfax Media the party would strengthen his party’s election chances as it supported his view that there was no difference between the Labor Party and the Coalition.
He also said they had a lot of common ground in areas such as nation building and developmentalism, and he would seek to begin negotiations with him as they could make a “formidable team”.
“We certainly welcome more players onto the field,” he said.
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