Clive Frederick Palmer (born 26 March 1954) is an Australian businessman,[6] former politician,[7] and poet.[8] He has iron ore, nickel and coal holdings. In 2016, the BRW magazine Rich 200 list estimated his wealth at A$600 million.[9]

Palmer owns Mineralogy, Waratah Coal, Queensland Nickel at Townsville, Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast, Palmer Sea Reef Golf Course at Port Douglas, Palmer Colonial Golf Course at Robina, and the Palmer Gold Coast Golf Course, also at Robina. He owned Gold Coast United FC from 2008 to 2012.[10][11]

Palmer created the Palmer United Party in April 2013, formally de-registering on 5 May 2017.

Early life

Palmer was born at Footscray Hospital in Footscray, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria on 26 March 1954, and spent his early years in the nearby suburb of Williamstown.[12][13] His family moved to Queensland in 1963[12] and Palmer was largely raised on the Gold Coast, where he attended Aquinas College and Southport State High School, although he also attended Toowoomba Grammar School for a short time.[13] Palmer's father, George, was a successful travel agent, and the family travelled the world extensively.[14] George Palmer was also the proprietor of the Akron Tyre Co and the Akron Broadcasting Co and, thus, the founder of Melbourne broadcasting station 3AK (now operating as SEN 1116).[15]

Palmer studied law, journalism and politics at the University of Queensland from 1973 to 1975, but did not finish the course. He later completed a Diploma of Law through the Queensland Bar Board, and worked as a clerk and interviewing officer for the Public Defender's Office.[16]

Business career

Natural resources

Palmer is the owner of Mineralogy, a company which in 2006 had 160 billion tonnes (160×10^9 long tons; 180×10^9 short tons) of iron ore reserves in the Pilbara Ranges, in remote northern Western Australia.[17] In 2008, Palmer bought Waratah Coal.[18] In 2009, he bought Queensland Nickel and the Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery after BHP were going to close the refinery, and thousands of jobs would have been lost.[19] In the first year after purchasing the refinery, Palmer gifted staff 50 Mercedes Benz cars and thousands of overseas holidays after the refinery turned a huge profit.[20] Palmer and his management team have since faced significant challenges with the cost of nickel dropping from over $7 per pound to around $3.70 per pound. On 18 January 2016, Queensland Nickel entered voluntary administration after the price of nickel crashed in October 2015 and the Queensland Government refused any assistance.[21]

In November 2017, Justice Kenneth Martin of the Supreme Court of Western Australia awarded Clive Palmer's company Mineralogy a substantial windfall of nearly AUD$200m in its long-running dispute with Citic Pacific over a disputed royalty payment. Palmer said the decision was "a win for Australian law over Chinese Communist government powerhouses".[22]


Palmer purchased the Gold Coast United soccer club in 2008.[23] In October 2009, he made a decision to cap attendances of Gold Coast United home games at Skilled Park stadium to 5,000,[24] in a bid to save money by avoiding transport subsidies on crowds over 5,000.[24] After a widespread backlash and only 2,616 fans attending the next home game, and the intervention of Football Federation Australia (FFA), the idea was scrapped.[24]

On 29 February 2012, Ben Buckley and Frank Lowy announced that Palmer's licence for Gold Coast United FC was to be revoked for constant breaches of FFA rules and regulations and sought to pay out the contracts of the players for the remaining month of the season.[25] Lowy stated that he acted in order to protect the integrity of the sport.[26] However, Palmer stipulated that he would contest the decisions through legal action and claimed Lowy was a dictator.[26] Despite a ruling ordering the removal of "Freedom of Speech" logos on team shirts, Palmer indicated they would remain.[27] On 2 March 2012, Palmer lost his Supreme Court bid against Gold Coast United's expulsion from the A-League.[28]

In 2012, after the FFA revoked his Gold Coast United A-League licence, Palmer founded Football Australia  – a competing organisation for the sport of football in Australia. The FFA adopted a number of the changes that Football Australia had proposed.[29]

Other activities

In June 2002, Palmer was appointed adjunct professor of business at Deakin University's Faculty of Business and Law, a role he held until 2006. During that time, he delivered a series of lectures as part of Deakin's MBA residential programs.[30] In 2008, Palmer was appointed adjunct professor of management at Bond University on the Gold Coast.[31]

In December 2012, Palmer was appointed secretary general of the World Leadership Alliance, a democracy-promoting council that included former US president Bill Clinton and Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Palmer was named president of the alliance's business chapter, the World Economic Council.[32]

In December 2012, on Christmas Day, Palmer hosted a buffet lunch for 650 disadvantaged people, mostly children and their families.[33]

On 4 March 2012, Palmer was named, amid controversy,[34] as a National Living Treasure by the New South Wales Branch of the National Trust of Australia.[35][36]

In April 2012, he announced that he had signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC Jinling Shipyard to construct a replica of RMS Titanic, the Titanic II.[37] The ship was to be built in China and set sail in late 2016,[37] later postponed to 2018. Palmer also added over 150 animatronic dinosaurs to his resort in Coolum, creating the largest dinosaur park in the world.

In 2015, Palmer donated a house, car and food to victims of a house fire in Beenleigh that saw their son tragically lose his life. The family lost everything they owned and Palmer ensured they had a roof over their heads, food, furniture, and toys for the surviving children.[38]

In 2017, Palmer was noted to have undergone extensive weight loss. This was accompanied by a renewed dedication to posting regular memes on his official Facebook page. The memes often have nonsensical or ironic undertones, and contain reoccurring themes – such as Rupert Murdoch's control of the media in Australia, contrasting himself with other political figures such as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, or paying homage to Tim Tam packets and his pet "Grog Dog". Some have decried these regular posts as a "meltdown",[39] while others reference Palmer's claim that they are "poetic".[40] Palmer was once required to provide an affidavit explaining a tweet sent out during a hearing on 1 December 2017.[41][42] The strategic rationale behind the posts is unknown, with speculation that they could be a cover-up for his political misadventures, a bid for the prime-ministership, or a PR stunt run by a staff member.[citation needed]


Titanic II

In February 2013, at a press conference in New York, Palmer announced plans to build a modern-day replica of the liner RMS Titanic. It was planned that Titanic II would be built in China and would make its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City in 2016 (later postponed to 2018). Palmer hoped to recreate the Titanic as closely as possible with its familiar external and internal appearances. According to Palmer, the Titanic II would be 883 feet long, weigh 55,800 gross tons and carry 2,435 passengers and 900 crew. Palmer said the Titanic II would honour the memories of those who died and survived on the Titanic. The Titanic was operated by the White Star Line and Palmer's cruise company is named Blue Star Line.

During the first half of 2015, evidence accumulated strongly suggesting that the project had been abandoned. In March it was reported that no work had begun or been ordered in the Chinese shipyard identified as the likely site of construction with workers highly skeptical that the project would ever move beyond the proposal stage.[43] On 26 March 2015, the Blue Star Line trademark was listed as "abandoned".[44] Blue Star Line had last updated its official website in May 2014.[45] In May 2016 it was reported by the administrators for a bankrupt Palmer company, Queensland Nickel, that no significant money had been spent on the development of Titanic II in over two years.[46]

Palmer Coolum Resort: Dinosaur Park

Palmer announced his plans to build a park that features animatronic dinosaurs. Palmer ordered more than 160 animatronic dinosaurs, which included an initial shipment of a 3.5-metre (11 ft) tall, 20-metre (66 ft) long T. rex, nicknamed "Jeff". Palmer received full council approval for the park on 25 July 2013, and it was expected to open to the public in 2014.[47] On 14 December 2013, the dinosaur park, now called "Palmersaurus", was opened to the public,[48] with Terri, Bindi and Bob Irwin as guests of honour.


Palmer was instrumental in the split of the South Australian conservatives in the 1970s, and was active in the Liberal Movement headed by former Premier of South Australia, Steele Hall.[49] Palmer joined the Queensland division of the Nationals in 1974, having been influenced by the policies of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Premier of Queensland at the time.[50] From the early 1980s, he was involved in state politics, serving as the National Party's campaign director during the 1983 state election and as media spokesman during its 1986 election campaign, both of which were successful.[51]

Palmer was against the "Joh for Canberra" campaign, which unsuccessfully attempted to get Bjelke-Petersen elected as Prime Minister of Australia at the 1987 federal election.[52] Palmer was elected to life membership of the party in 1992, which he retained after the state branches of the Nationals and Liberal Party merged to form the Liberal National Party of Queensland in 2008.[13]

In late April 2012, Palmer announced that he would contest Liberal National Party preselection for the Division of Lilley at the 2013 federal election, held by Wayne Swan, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer.[53][54] However, in July that year, he announced his intention to seek preselection for a different seat, including possibly the Division of Kennedy, held by Bob Katter of Katter's Australian Party (formerly sitting as a National and an independent).[55][56]

Several months after announcing his intent to seek preselection, Palmer resigned his life membership of the Liberal National Party.[57] His membership of the party had been suspended on 9 November 2012, following his comments on the actions of state government ministers.[58] He was re-instated to the party on 22 November, but resigned the same day.[59]

In March 2012, Palmer accused Drew Hutton and Greenpeace of receiving funding from the CIA, due to Hutton's involvement in the preparation of a Greenpeace strategy titled "Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom".[60][61] His claims were dismissed by Greenpeace senior campaigner John Hepburn as "ludicrous", and he said that Greenpeace would not accept money from any government, corporation or secret service.[62] His claims were also rejected by the CIA.[63]

On 25 April 2013, Palmer announced a "reformation" of the United Australia Party, which had been folded into the present-day Liberal Party in 1945, to stand candidates in the 2013 federal election, and had applied for its registration in Queensland.[64][65] Another political party, The United Party, lodged a formal objection to the registration of the name "Palmer United Party" (PUP) with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).[66] The AEC determined that the names "Uniting Australia Party" and "Palmer United Party" were distinct and the name "Palmer United Party" was not prohibited.[67]

Member of Parliament

Palmer ran as the candidate in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax for his party. In the election, he won the first count by 7 votes over LNP candidate Ted O'Brien, triggering an automatic recount. While he had won only 26.5 percent of the primary vote, he overtook O'Brien on Labor and Green preferences. During the recount, he filed a raft of challenges to votes cast for O'Brien, and made a number of specious claims that the Australian Electoral Commission was tainted by corruption. Ultimately, he was confirmed as winner with 50.3% of the vote – a margin of 53 votes.[68][69]

His party was also successful in the Senate, where three of his party members were elected and won a shared balance of power. The senators were elected in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania and Palmer was instrumental in achieving more than any other first term political party in Australia.[70]

In his maiden speech to federal parliament, Palmer implied that the government was "deaf to the everyday struggles of all Australians" and stated that "the entrenchment of the two-party system in this country not only threatens democracy but destroys the creativity of the nation."[71][72]

Palmer was absent from Parliament more than any other MP in the 44th Parliament; he only attended 64 percent of sitting days in 2014 and 54 percent in 2015.[73] He was rarely seen in his own electorate, preferring to reside at his Gold Coast residence. At one point, he went seven months without setting foot in Fairfax. His LNP opponent in 2013, O'Brien, claimed that many residents considered him, not Palmer, as their MP.[74]

In May 2016, Palmer announced he would not seek reelection to his seat of Fairfax or run for the Senate and retire from politics.[75][76] This all but assured that Fairfax would revert to the LNP; like most Sunshine Coast seats, it would have been a comfortably safe LNP seat in a traditional two-party matchup. As expected, O'Brien reclaimed the seat for the LNP resoundingly.

Palmer deregistered the party's state branches in September 2016, initially intending to keep it active at the federal level.[77] However, in April 2017, he announced that the party would be wound up.[78]

In February 2018, announced his intention to resurrect the Palmer United Party and return to federal politics.[79]

Personal life

Palmer lives in a gated mansion on Sovereign Islands, an exclusive community on the Gold Coast. News Limited reports that property records reveal "Mr Palmer, his family and associates own a total of 11 homes in the Sovereign Islands, a gated enclave developed on reclaimed land on the banks of the Southport Broadwater." Palmer also owns homes at Broadbeach Waters on the Gold Coast, Fig Tree Pocket in Brisbane and in Sofia in Bulgaria.[1] Other holdings include properties in Brisbane, Jandowae on the Darling Downs, Queensland, Port Douglas in Queensland and Bora Bora, French Polynesia. In addition, his wife owns an undisclosed number of properties held in trust.[80]

Palmer was married to his first wife for 22 years. He has two adult children: a son, Michael and a daughter, Emily.[81] His first wife, Susan Palmer, died from cancer in 2006. In 2007, he married Anna, and they have two daughters, Mary and Lucy.[82][83] Palmer is a Roman Catholic and was a prominent member of Right to Life Australia while at university, organising pro-life rallies on campus.[84][85]

While watching a soccer game in October 2009, Palmer was thought to have suffered a heart attack, and was taken to hospital. However, doctors dismissed it as merely a heart palpitation.[86] Palmer has also suffered from sleep apnoea.[87] During a May 2017 hearing regarding the liquidation of Queensland Nickel, Palmer was reported to appear to be in ill health and suffering from memory lapses.[88]

Wealth rankings

Year BRW
Rich 200
Australia's 50 Richest
Rank Net worth (AUD) Rank Net worth (USD)
2011[89][90] 5 Increase $5.05 billion Increase n/a not listed
2012[91][92] 8 Decrease $3.85 billion Decrease 29 Increase $0.80 billion Increase
2013[93][94][95] 16 Decrease $2.20 billion Decrease 31 Decrease
2014[96][97] 28 Decrease $1.22 billion Decrease 50 Decrease $0.55 billion Decrease
2015[4][5] 30 Decrease $1.40 billion Increase n/a Decrease not listed Decrease
Icon Description
Steady Has not changed from the previous year
Increase Has increased from the previous year
Decrease Has decreased from the previous year

Up until 2013, the Forbes list included Australia's 40 Richest people; expanded to Australia's 50 Richest people in 2013.

See also


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External links

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Alex Somlyay
Member for Fairfax
Succeeded by
Ted O'Brien