Cliver Palmer.
Cliver Palmer.

Palmer's brute force politics may have paid off

WHEN Clive Palmer told national media outlets this week that polling suggested he would get 30% of the primary vote in Fairfax, eyebrows were raised and some smirked behind their hands.

Thrown in with his claims that Rupert Murdoch's now-estranged wife Wendy Deng was a Chinese spy, the prediction had many dismissing him as bonkers. They are not laughing now.

Last night Mr Palmer was locked in a two-way battle with the LNP's Ted O'Brien with the result likely to be in doubt for some days.

Early projections give him a 52.9% to 47.1% lead and victory over Mr O'Brien after the distribution of preferences.

The billionaire owner of the Palmer Coolum Resort spent millions of his own money on a campaign that only got media attention when he demanded it by acting the clown.

Attempts by him to gain equal treatment to Labor and the Coalition because he had managed to field candidates in each of the 150 House of Representatives divisions gained no traction.

So instead he letterboxed households with a DVD of his Palmer United Party's policies, took out bulk newspaper advertising and used automated messaging to try to get straight to voters in their homes.

As well he frenetically crisscrossed Australia in his private jet grabbing whatever media attention he could.

It was clear last night that the high-stakes gamble had paid off.

Voters disillusioned with the two major parties and looking for an alternative found one in Palmer's party.

He made no excuses for the fact that all but five of his key policies fitted hand-in-glove with those of the Liberal Party.

But he hounded the party of which he was once a life member over its association with lobbyists.

Where he differed he did so to powerful strategic affect. Palmer's refugee policy garnered the mining magnate the unlikely preference support of the Greens.

That could prove crucial for his own chances in Fairfax where last night he was well ahead of Labor's Elaine Hughes and within striking distance of the LNP's Ted O'Brien.

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