There’s no confusion over what greeted Clive Palmer as he trick-or-treated through his luxurious, gated neighbourhood this Halloween. It was treats. An embarrassment of treats, really.
And none were as sweet as a glorious pairs of numbers: 53 and 1375.
Fifty-three is the margin by which Palmer was finally crowned the victor of the hotly contested federal seat of Fairfax – now Australia’s most marginal electorate – and 1375 is the number of votes the Australian Electoral Commission admitted to losing in the West Australian Senate ballot, validating what has been an unrelenting barrage of criticism from the billionaire.
The dual victories will come as a delicious reward for Palmer, who since the September 7 election has at various times accused the AEC of potential corruption, of conspiring against his election and of having dubious links to ex-military officials.
But it wasn’t just the AEC that landed in Palmer’s crosshairs this week. His barbs were as interchangeable as his Halloween attire.
When Palmer donned a bull costume while trick-or-treating, few people realised he’d actually come as independent senator Nick Xenophon.
“He's probably against everything,” Palmer said of Xenophon earlier in the week. “He's against racial discrimination, he's against asylum seekers – he's against everybody!”
Clearly, the billionaire wants to make a big entrance to parliament.
Palmer, always ready to shock and awe, pulled a swift costume change and was soon gracing the doorsteps of strangers dressed as Santa Claus.
“I’ll have a discussion with the Motorists, but I’m sure we can reach an agreement where for Christmas we can probably release our memorandum on Christmas Day as a present to Nick Xenophobia,” he declared with a “Ho, ho, ho”.
Not everyone was happy to see Palmer though. When unknowingly knocking on industry minister Ian Macfarlane’s door, the freshly-minted MP was greeted with a scowl of “Why are you knocking on my door asking for candy for free? Who do you think you are, Holden?”
Tweet of the week
- “They’re a bit more than just a thought bubble; I think they’re moving into space cadet territory here.” Apparently even Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney isn’t a fan of the Coalition’s Commission of Audit.
- “I’ve got 20 minutes of speaking to fill, but what I really want to say can be summed up in three words: I hate losing.” Clearly ALP national secretary George Wright has gotten over his party’s campaign trail aversion to three-word slogans.
- “Amazon is the other big gorilla on our doorstep.” Wesfarmers chief executive officer Richard Goyder apparently has bigger primates to worry about than Woolworths.
- “To lose one vote is unfortunate, to lose two is careless but to lose 1375 votes surely must be cause for a fresh Senate election.” Independent Senator Nick Xenophon channelled his inner Oscar Wilde in assessing the WA Senate imbroglio.
The last gasp
As it has always done, that which by definition breeds conflict – war – can also heal in surprising ways.
And so it was that Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten – the two men who will, in less than two weeks, begin a three-year duel across the lectern in the House of Representatives – found themselves side by side on a real battlefield.
In an historic bipartisan visit to troops in Afghanistan, Abbott declared Australia’s presence in the country was coming to an end – not with victory or defeat, but with hope.
The hope is that that hope will translate.
If nothing else, the visit shows what can come from political opponents recognising what brings them together, as much as what divides them. Adopting a similar approach would bode well for civility in the 44th parliament.