Clive Palmer claiming victory over WA after Supreme Court action

Clive Palmer is claiming a significant victory in his multi-billion-dollar legal battle with the West Australian Government, following an order by the Queensland Supreme Court.

The latest development in a battle worth potentially $30 billion, according to the WA Government, has seen awards made in arbitration in favour of Mr Palmer formally registered by the Queensland court.

The decision of the court is that the awards in favour of Mr Palmer should be “enforced”.

The row centres on the former WA Liberal Government’s refusal to allow Mr Palmer to develop his Balmoral South iron ore project into a mine, which he planned to sell to a Chinese-owned entity.

However, the Queensland court action has put a substantial cloud over the WA Government’s legislation before State Parliament, which seeks to urgently terminate Mr Palmer’s legal action seeking damages in relation to that decision.

The bill was passed by the Lower House of WA’s Parliament yesterday and looks set to pass the Upper House overnight.

A close up of Attorney-General John Quigley wearing a blue suit and tie standing in front of Australian flags and a blue curtain
Attorney-General John Quigley brought the urgent legislation into Parliament late on Tuesday evening.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

During Question Time in Parliament, WA Premier Mark McGowan said passing the state’s legislation was urgent and “not some game”.

“Members would be aware that yesterday Mr Clive Palmer began proceedings to try to register his arbitration in the New South Wales Supreme Court,” Mr McGowan said.

“I understand he has also filed an application in the Queensland Supreme Court.

“It is essential that for whatever legal wrangling that follows, Western Australia is in the strongest position possible to protect our state when the lawyers have it out in New South Wales and Queensland.”

No point in passing law: Palmer

But Mr Palmer said the decision by the Queensland court meant the awards were now protected under the constitution.

“Now that the awards have been registered in the Queensland Supreme Court, there is no purpose to continue the draconian and disgraceful legislation,” Mr Palmer said.

A close up of Mark McGowan speaking at a podium in front of Australian flags and a blue curtain.
Mr McGowan said the Government was seeking advice about appealing the Queensland court order.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

“Even if (WA Attorney General) John Quigley has the legislation passed in Parliament it will be invalid under our Constitution.”

A spokesman for WA Premier Mark McGowan said the Government was seeking advice about whether the Queensland court order could be set aside or appealed.

WA has warned Mr Palmer’s case could “bankrupt the state” and lead to the closure of schools and hospitals, which is why it argues the “unprecedented legislation” to terminate his legal action is necessary.

Mr Palmer had already indicated it would be challenged in the High Court.

Bid to send bill to committee failed

Earlier, the Opposition wanted the bill — which also denies the right to natural justice and to freedom of information (FOI) requests on this specific matter — to be reviewed by a joint select committee.

But that attempt failed after the Nationals and Greens confirmed they would not support the committee inquiry and any delay.

It leaves a clear pathway for the Government to pass its legislation.

Mr Quigley said the legislation had been prepared in secret and introduced late on Tuesday for tactical reasons to take advantage of a “weakness” in Mr Palmer’s position.

Mr Palmer later released a second statement calling on Mr Quigley to resign, saying he was sponsoring a bill into Parliament that was both draconian and extraordinary.

He also claimed he had given instructions to prepare an application for a High Court injunction against Mr Quigley, restraining him from “acting in an unprofessional manner”.

“Mr Quigley will be served over the next week,” Mr Palmer said.