GASP: Clive Palmer's bloc party

Ricky Muir sticks out in a sea of yellow, Tony Abbott moves on from budgie smugglers and Canada brings the cheese to the table.

Somewhere in between waging his now commonplace wars on the AEC and The Australian, mining magnate turned media magnet Clive Palmer found time to deliver an uncanny Bob Dylan impersonation this week.

“Come Senators, Congressman, come heed the call,” he bellowed from Far North Queensland.

Congressman may have been ambitious – even for him – but Senators, and one in particular, certainly heeded the call of the wild Palmer United Party.

At a highly managed joint press conference, Palmer announced he had inked an alliance with Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

Details of the new voting bloc’s intentions were scarce, with Muir saying only it was in the nation’s best interest to align himself with PUP, while Palmer admitted only that it was in his best interests to wield as much influence as humanly possible.

However, GASP can exclusively reveal some details of the clandestine memorandum of understanding between Palmer and Muir.

Sources close to the matter told us the first point of order was a mandatory requirement for Muir to wear only yellow ties henceforth, so as to avoid this embarrassing moment again.

Graph for GASP: Clive Palmer's bloc party

Although Team Palmer’s fashion dictum is more yellow than Coldplay’s debut song, Muir made the rookie error at the press conference of donning a blue tie. It’s a mistake he won’t repeat, Clive will make sure of that.

The contract is also believed to extend to cross-party support for the vehicular resettlement of asylum seekers at the Palmersaurus Resort, as well as equal access to land for offshore miners and off-road motorists.

And yet for all the questions the alliance raised, it certainly did answer one outstanding query: where the bloody hell has Ricky Muir been?

The senator-in-waiting has been a virtual ghost since his shock election success last month. Even a move by the Queensland-based central AMEP executive to sack the party’s Victorian hierarchy couldn’t lure the poo-flicking, automotive aficionado out of hiding.

With a primary vote of less than 1 per cent of the electorate, it wasn’t like there was a queue of loyalists willing to aid and abet the fugitive. And yet, there was an audible gasp of surprise when Muir emerged from behind a mechanical triceratops at Palmer’s Coolum retreat.

After all, Muir had gleefully been leading a curious Australian people through a real-life game of Where’s Wally.

You know, if Wally ditched the red and white in favour of a beanie and jean shorts, that is. And traded his trusty canine companion for a fully-sick automobile. And transformed his arch-nemesis from Odlaw into a pesky media scrum, daring to ask questions of an elected representative.

AMEP founder and national secretary Keith Littler hinted intense media scrutiny may have been behind Muir’s temporary disappearance.

“He has been bombarded by the media for god knows what reason over the last few weeks,” Littler said.

Perhaps that whole ‘just got elected to the Australian Senate’ thing may have something to do with it?

If Muir’s intention was to fly under the radar in the Senate, an alliance with Clive Palmer represents more of a brain snap than an astute judgment. If it wasn’t already, the holiday is now well and truly over.

A mooted move to sanction Muir’s deal with PUP, and chatter of a potential expulsion from AMEP prompted yet another question – did Muir jump from his speeding car, before he was pushed under it? If so, the new Senate alliance makes considerably more sense.

After all, life rafts don’t come any more buoyant than one Clive Palmer.

Abbott’s unlucky APEC wardrobe

The Palmer United Party wasn’t the only fashion dictatorship flexing its sartorial muscles this week.

Tony Abbott’s run of good fortune finally ran dry while in Bali for the APEC conference when, after years of the traditional garment section of the pageant, sorry summit, either being scrapped or non-mandatory, returned with purple fury. 

Graph for GASP: Clive Palmer's bloc party

“You wouldn’t do this to a woman would you, damn sexists,” Abbott muttered as he slipped into the fetching number.

Suddenly the budgie smugglers don’t seem as horrifying, do they?

Whose cheese is it anyway?

After years spent worrying about Chinese nationals buying up our land, after all of the bluster from unapologetic nationalist Barnaby Joyce, it turns out it was the Canadians we should have been worried about.

And curiouser still, it’s not our land, but our cheese that they’re after. More accurately, it’s a cheddar-platform into the Asian market they’re chasing.

Spurning an offer from Bega, both a real town and a real cheese apparently, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory’s board has unanimously recommended an all-cash, off-market $7 per share offer from Canada’s Saputo this week.

The offer is subject to approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, and alongside the pending decision on Archer Daniel Midlands’ bid for GrainCorp it is seen as a litmus test for the authority. Unlike the GrainCorp case, which has gained headlines for allegations of xenophobia and nationalism in the debate surrounding the decision, its allegations of cheeseism and margarine-alisation that are most rife in the instance of Warrnambool.

Sources close to Saputo reassured GASP that the Canadian dairy giant was committed to advancing the national interests of Australia through its takeover, saying it fully supported Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s stance on stopping the flow of foreign cheddars seeking asylum with Australian palates.

One-line wonders

  • “Funnily enough Labor’s not getting as much prominence in the media as we should.” Leadership aspirant Anthony Albanese pines for the good old days when just a beer after work got him on the front page.
  • "If someone else wants to pay half a trip, pay for it privately, which is basically what Gina Rinehart did, then it's actually made it cheaper for the taxpayer." Barnaby Joyce reminds us what a national treasure Gina Rinehart is. She’s just doing it for the taxpayer.
  • “Now, in terms of this particular issue, first thing is I am still waiting for somebody to invite me to a wedding.” Hang in there Greg Hunt. If Direct Action fails you’ll be the guest of honour at one hell of an end-of-the-world party. Think, Apocalypse Wow.
  • “Members of the Australian Diamonds are women of substance and good character.” With such kind words for the Australian netball team the minister assisting the prime minister for women, Michaelia Cash, might want to be careful she doesn’t get overlooked for a cabinet position once again.

Tweet of the week

Graph for GASP: Clive Palmer's bloc party

The last gasp

The furore over travel expenses that has so enraptured the nation this week is not an issue for the government alone, but it certainly paints an ominous picture of the coming three years.

Perhaps unfairly, the coalition has copped the brunt of this round of vitriol from the electorate – a taste of the kind of retribution that will likely become a staple of this parliament when it resumes.

The coalition, and Tony Abbott in particular, have managed a relatively smooth transition from opposition to government and the requisite change of tact and mindset that comes along with it.

But biggest test for the government, as seen with the travel expenses saga, will be living up to the type of rigorous attacks it levelled in opposition. Clearly parliamentary expenses and waste in a broader sense will be crucial areas that will test the Abbott government.

In opposition now, assistant minister for infrastructure and government development Jamie Briggs was ‘waste-scrutineer in chief’ as chairman of the deftly named committee for the scrutiny government waste. The first sniff of the same from the Abbott government will no doubt unleash an unholy lash of retribution from the ALP and a bloodthirsty media. 

Follow @mitchneems on Twitter.

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