Clive Palmer (middle) among Senate candidates from his Palmer United Party (PUP).
Clive Palmer (middle) among Senate candidates from his Palmer United Party (PUP). Marissa Calligeros

Clive Palmer's business interests linked to mining lobbyists

WHILE Clive Palmer will not allow lobbyists to take official positions in his Palmer's United Party, three of his mining interests have been clients of a lobbying firm since at least July last year.

Federal Leader of PUP, Professor Palmer has been vocal in his opposition to lobbyists being members of political parties and the involvement of lobbyists in the political process.

In April, the Queensland billionaire was quoted by ABC as saying both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott were "virtually the same thing, they're run by lobbyists".

Under official PUP policy, lobbyists are excluded from holding official positions in the party, but those with business interests that maintain contracts with lobbyists are not.

"A member who is a lobbyist needs to decide if his business interests are more important than carrying out obligations of an office bearer," party policy reads.

"Moreover, lobbyist firms often employ former Minister from both political parties and big business can get policy changes by paying money to such firms to represent their views.

"This represents a serious conflict of interest and undermines the value of individuals voting rights and the democracy that Australians have fought for."

But three of Prof Palmer's chief business interests - Mineralogy Pty Ltd, Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd and China First Ltd Pty - have been listed as clients of lobby firm Enhance Corporate Pty Ltd since July 2012.

Both Queensland Nickel and China First were also listed as clients of the same firm on the Queensland state register of lobbyists.

While Prof Palmer was unavailable to comment, his spokesman said there were "zero conflicts" over the fact Mr Palmer's interests held contracts with lobbyists while his party simultaneously advocated against lobbyists holding official party positions.

He said lobbyists could help with party members' business interests, but they should not be in a position in control of political parties.

"If there was ever any conflict within the party, Prof Palmer would declare his hand and leave the room," the spokesman said.

"He's not saying you can't use a lobbyist, only that they should be banned from holding a position in a political party".

The spokesman also said Prof Palmer's business interests and his role as party leader was "irrelevant".

He said as with all company directors, Prof Palmer was governed by the strict provisions of the Corporations Act.

The Australian Electoral Commission officially received an application to register the Palmer United Party on Wednesday.

Interested stakeholders now have until July 1 to file any objections before the party is registered.

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