Clive takes on the Chinese

On Monday night, the ABC’s Q&A promised a lively discussion of power, poverty and social equity. And for a while there this is what we saw. Then, from seemingly out of nowhere, the Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, simply let it rip. In response to a question about his election funding, he declared that the Chinese are mongrels, bastards and trying to take over the country. Seriously. If you find this difficult to believe, watch it here for yourself below.

In summary, when pressured by host Tony Jones, Mr Palmer stated:

“The Chinese government wants to bring workers here to destroy our wage system… I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it (having access to our resources). They are communists, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country… and I’m not going to let them do it”

On Tuesday most members of the Abbott Government condemned Mr Palmer’s outburst, labeling it “abusive” (Julie Bishop) and “hugely damaging” (Joe Hockey). Mr Palmer’s party colleague, Jacqui Lambie, however, stated that Australia was facing the threat of a Chinese Communist invasion. And a spokesperson for the Chinese government declared that Mr Palmer’s comments were full of ignorance and prejudice.

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Opinion: What was he thinking?

Good grief. There I was quietly nodding off on the couch and then Clive let spray and everyone woke up. At one level we can suppress our embarrassment at yet another intemperate faux pas by Mr Palmer, but this time he really has gone too far. Being frustrated by a court case, which is challenging the way you do business, is a natural emotion. But lashing out at an entire nation – of 1.35 billion people if you don’t mind – is simply unsupportable.

Nations are not bastards or mongrels. Nor should people be described that way. Mr Palmer was clearly uncomfortable with the line of questioning pursed by Q&A host Tony Jones on Monday night, mainly because Mr Jones was asking if Mr Palmer improperly used money to fund his political campaign. These are fair questions. Any politician should be able to answer them. As we have seen in the NSW ICAC investigation, heads can, and do, roll when brown paper bags of money appear at election time. So federal politicians should also be subject to scrutiny on these matters. And under pressure Mr Palmer decided to attack our largest trading partner, with whom successive governments have worked hard to create cordial relations.

There was no excuse to say what Mr Palmer said, and Ms Lambie’s remarks are similarly prejudiced and ill-informed. It is alarming that the Palmer United Party holds so much power on the cross benches. If our future is in its hands, our relations with other nations are really in the doo doo. It’s time for Mr Palmer to stop treading the populist line and work out who he is and what his party stands for.

And some lessons in Diplomacy 101 wouldn’t go astray either.

What do you think? Has Clive Palmer gone far too far? Or do you endorse his fear of a Chinese takeover of Australian jobs and resources?

Written by Kaye Fallick