It’s been a huge night for Premier Mark McGowan, and it wasn’t because he was cuttin’ the rug at the Mustang Bar.
The ink has literally just dried on emergency legislation designed to block Clive Palmer’s potential $30 billion claim against WA.
The unprecedented law passed both houses of Parliament after a marathon sitting on Thursday night.
However, it’s not over yet as Mr Palmer filed an application in the Federal Court seeking to force the withdrawal of the legislation.
Quick question, are you keeping up with this?
Just quietly, some of us have completely lost track, so Botica’s Bunch got Mr McGowan on the phone to give us the 101 version of how and why we’re even in this situation.
The Palmer Drama in 60 seconds:
“In 2012, Colin Barnett made a good decision which was to deny Mr Palmer the right to sell a project to a Chinese company up near Karratha,” McGowan told The Bunch on Friday.
“Mr Palmer didn’t like it, so he took it to what’s called arbitration which, under the Act of Parliament, was secret.
“Ever since then, he’s been beavering away with a $30 billion claim against Western Australia, which was going to reach a conclusion later this year and the Arbitrator could may well have ordered $30 billion we’d have to pay Clive Palmer, all because he couldn’t sell a piece of land to a Chinese company.
“So we decided, that rather than bankrupt Western Australia, we would say ‘you cannot do that’ and that it was not in the best interest of the state, 2.6 million people, for Clive Palmer to take us for $30 billion, so we passed laws to achieve that outcome.”
Thing is, $30 billion is WA’s entire state budget.
Yep, the whole damn thing.
“So, if we had that order against us, basically WA would be bankrupt,” McGowan said.
“We wouldn’t be able to fund… anything.
“So, we just decided the best course to stop him from doing this because otherwise the consequences for the people of the state were extraordinary.
“Chances are, we’d win, the arbitration would win, but imagine if we didn’t?”
Then there’s the whole border challenge thing that emerged this week.
“That turned out to just be a bit of a ploy, didn’t it? Lisa asked McGowan, to which he agreed.
“He wrote to us to say that he’ll abandon the High Court challenge on the border if we moved the arbitration [hearings] for his $30 billion to the eastern states,” McGowan said.
“In other words, he wanted to get it closer to where he was and his legal team, so the whole High Court border challenge was obviously just a sham. What a guy he is.”