First as tragedy, then as farce. Brian Burston, the latest deserter from Pauline Hanson‘s sinking ship, has officially joined Clive Palmer‘s party United Australia, becoming its only elected member. We have unfortunately reached the point where there are literally no more absurd things that can happen in Australian politics, so all we can do is retread past absurdities until the inevitable heat death of the universe.
Clive’s political party – formerly known as the Palmer United Party – has seen a similar commitment to loyalty as Pauline’s One Nation in recent years. You may recall that PUP managed to score one Lower House seat and three Senate seats in the 2013 election despite having no coherent policies outside of a commitment to demolish the mining tax. The party quickly disintegrated – with pollies like Jacqui Lambie moving on to forge their own political paths.
Palmere has been assiduously staging a comeback hinging on the phrase ‘Make Australia Great’, with a number of billboards popping up around the country teasing his return. His so-called Palmy Army has been building a presence on Facebook, largely around an absurdist meme culture rather than any actual identifiable policies. Oh, and the Aussie alt right underground absolutely loves Clive for meme-related reasons too. It’s all very muddy.
Burston said in a press conference that he only decided to join Palmer’s party at “around 10.30am this morning,” which suggests that some deep and abiding thought has gone into this project.
“He’s making Australia great, I love that logo, and so am I,” Senator Burston told the Courier-Mail. Very compelling.
.@CliveFPalmer: United Australia Party will field candidates in every seat in the House of Representatives at the next federal election. Today, I announce Brian Burston as our Senate leader.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) June 18, 2018
So now Clive’s political project is officially back on the radar. He confirmed that he himself will not be running for a Senate seat, but may contest a lower house seat such as the one he won back in 2013. (Is it worth remembering that it took about five seconds for everyone in the electorate of Fairfax to realise Clive was doing literally nothing in Parliament? Maybe.)
While all this goes on, Clive is still embroiled in a vast legal dispute over the collapse of his company Queensland Nickel, which left hundreds of millions of dollars of debt in its wake and hundreds of job losses. Some have alleged that his dalliances in politics have only ever been about distracting from his quite frankly massive legal problems.
Memes are great though, right? It’s worth mentioning that Clive’s proud announcement of a new political movement, locked and loaded with one certifiably batshit nuts Senator, ended slightly prematurely when the sprinklers came on.
— James Elton (@JamesEltonPym) June 18, 2018