The thing you need to understand about Clive Palmer is, he’s not that wealthy. Not for a bloke who wants to build dinosaur parks, reboot the Titanic, and tear down the entire architecture of border controls currently protecting the healthy half of the country from the filthy, infected corona zombies scratching at the border gates of QLD and WA.
In fact, looking at Clive’s CV I’m put in mind of Jonathan Coulton’s mad scientist from Skullcrusher Mountain except that whereas the sub cranial whispers that control JoCo’s supervillain say “I shouldn't kill you yet,” Clive’s inner Bond Villain is all…
Auric Goldfinger was a genuine badass, however, whereas Clive’s evil genius feels like more of a made up thing. His dinosaurs were rusty animatronic Mechano toys. The Titanic 2 was originally supposed to launch in 2016, then 2018, then 2022, but currently exists only as a conceptual design, which itself exists only as a blurred pen sketch of Boaty McBoatface on the back of a frayed beer coaster salvaged from the ruins of Palmer’s Coolum dinosaur park by an intrepid squad of insolvency lawyers.
The dinosaurs, the Titanic, the soccer team, the basketball team, the coal mines, the nickel plant, the political party, the secret stash of 33 million doses of hydroxyfuckingchloroquine, most of these things never come to anything, unless tears before bedtime and law suits count.
For most of his career as a billionaire edge lord and supersized bowl of tardigrade pudding, Clive wasn’t even much of a billionaire. Not according to Forbes, who once thought he was only good for a lousy seven hundred and ninety-five million. BRW, the Daily Mail of filthy lucre, were more generous, spotting him a lazy five billion, with the caveat that they really had no fucking idea what Clive’s actual net worth was, because his schwag bag included millions of tonnes of shitty, low grade loser coal in the Gallilee Basin, a rusting T-Rex, and this damp, disintegrating beer mat with a sad little boat drawn on it.
But the coal ‘could be’ worth sixty billion dollars! According to Clive!
It could also be a fuckton of worthless crap nuggets according to everyone who wasn’t Clive.
If he has a core skill, as we’ve been reminded these last few weeks, it’s spinning gold thread out of legalistic terrorism, although we really shouldn’t need reminding. His entry in Who’s Who famously lists his hobbies as reading and litigation.
One of the reasons he was able to dump $80M worth of anti-Labor advertising into the last federal election, was because of the lazy $300M he trousers every year in royalties from the Chinese infrastructure giant CITIC for leases over an iron ore deposit in the Pilbara.
Clive Palmer @CliveFPalmerI’m making my helicopter & pilot available in sydney for rescue in any way during the national fire crisis. I’m also asking other people with private helicopters to assist in this matter too. https://t.co/1Co5vkUNnb
Those deposits might well be worth something—because even the rusting, sun-faded Cliversaurus Rex at Coolum has a dollar value. Like, at least a dollar—but so far most of the value proposition has been realised in court, shanking the gumbies from CITIC for that yearly payday.
At any given moment it seems like Clive is either in court, threatening to drag somebody off to court, or standing on the steps outside a court somewhere-anywhere spooling up a never-ending tale of Palmerlicious escapades and Super Clivey derring do.
Witness this week the thrill of Clive executing a high speed bootlegger’s turn that would melt the buttermilk sticks off both Dukes of Hazard, as he suddenly laid rubber away from his high profile and potentially ruinous assault on the WA border, to concentrate on an even higher profile and even more ruinous legal attack on the governance and economy of WA as whole.
Why Clive? Why?
Well, maybe he’s ticked off that WA Premier Mark McGowan outed him for grabbing up the local supply of Donald Trump’s favoured miracle cure for Miss Rona’s killer sniffles. With Clive having bought 33 million doses of hydroxywhatthefuckisthis, unkind souls in the WA government hinted that the reason he needed to get into the far west was to sell off this monster stash of Tangerine Hitler tide pods before a bunch of safety narcs and anti-fun police from the Therapeutic Goods Administration told him to stop poisoning people. (In fact, he says he’s already ‘donated’ the lot to the national stockpile. But, you know. It’s Clive).
On the other hand, perhaps he really does believe the good burghers of Westralia own him thirty billion dollarydoos.
But he’ll settle for a lazy five or six.
Who can say in these crazy go-go times of ours?
Clive is what we have instead of Facebook; a huge, ungovernable corporate monstersaurus, more force of nature than commercial entity, driven from one enthusiasm to the next, enduring triumphs and blundering through failures with Falstaffian glee. The grand plans, the great feuds, the about-faces and passionate intensity are the very life of Clive. He is an artist in his own way, a bullshit artist in many ways, but his leitmotiv is the Odyssean urge to strive, to see to find and not to yield, until somebody, somewhere, pays up.
Can’t help feeling though, that it’ll be all of us who pay if he ever truly gets his way.