Rich men throwing gold coins into the crowd may seem tacky, but it would have gone down remarkably well at our business club on the visit of billionaire, Clive Palmer who was standing as a candidate for the Federal seat in our electorate. At first, he sat looking very much as I would look if I were the one in the room of small business owners with a billion dollars - nervous. However, there were no outright demands for cash, and he managed to ignore subtle hints such as my suggestion that if he did not give me instructions to sue at least two of the audience that morning, I would be hugely disappointed.
Once safely at the lectern, his demeanour brightened and he gave a speech that was both outspoken and riveting. When he declared “It is not my fault that I am a billionaire”, I thought “I wish I had said that” because when you have met a billionaire of a similar age, comparisons are often made, usually by your wife. If certain wives had wanted their husbands to be billionaires they should not have married them, or at least that is my excuse.
His description of career politicians as inexperienced, yes men, who retire with lucrative consultancies both horrified audience members and left many of us considering a career in politics.
He said “The top 5 politicians in Australia have 187 years of experience; it is just that only 27 years of those are in business and only 2 years actual work - as a cleaner. The rest is as policy advisors, trade union representatives, lawyers or similar”. From this, I sensed that he may have strong views about lawyers, too. However, in arranging his attendance I dealt with his in-house lawyer, who was exceptionally nice, which is always such a disadvantage for a lawyer. It is to Clive’s credit that he took her in.
When he accused a leading politician of having mental issues, which could be medically diagnosed, he had gone too far, and the local paper headlined his speech as “crazy talk”. Of course, a medical diagnosis of politician’s issues does offer the prospect of treatment and recovery whereas at present we all just put up with them.
At the end of his speech he shot out the door before anyone could button hole him. If you have ever had a billionaire come into your life and leave without giving you anything you will know that there is an acute sense of loss.
(c) Paul Brennan 2013. All rights reserved.
Clive Palmer is leader of the Palmer United Party and at the time was a candidate for Fairfax, Sunshine Coast,Queensland.
|Sponsored by Brennans solicitors|