Victoria election: Clive Palmer sells a PUP free of policies or candidates

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Guardian: Victoria election: Clive Palmer sells a PUP free of policies or candidates. Gay Alcorn. 6 November 2014

Party leader releases a slew of TV ads and spells out his Victoria heritage but dodges questions on the East West Link and mining

The mystery of who is standing for the Palmer United party (PUP) in Victoria will not be answered until Sunday. Clive Palmer came to Melbourne on Thursday and held a media conference for well over an hour, but revealed no policies, or the names of the 20 people standing for the upper house.

He did, however, release seven television ads that will run during the campaign, an indication that there is no shortage of funds.

Palmer also said he was all but Victorian himself. He was born in Footscray hospital, and lived in Melbourne for the first 10 years of his life “enjoying Victoria and all it’s got to offer”. He was a rabid Western Bulldogs fan.

“I feel Victoria runs very strong in my bones, veins,” he said.

With his local credentials established, Palmer launched into a familiar stream about the state of Australian politics and how the PUP holding the balance of power in Victoria would improve matters. Victorians could see how well the PUP senators had performed in the federal Senate, he said.

“The politicians we’ve got in Victoria from both parties are pretty hopeless. They don’t seem to care about jobs and they just stand in seats to go through the motions. Every time there’s an election, we seem to get the same result, it doesn’t matter who’s elected, we only get the same result.”

On issues exercising the minds of Victorians, who vote on 29 November, Palmer was equivocal. Did he support the East West Link, the cross-city toll road that is the centrepiece of the government’s transport plans, which Labor has pledged to abandon if it wins office?

“You can ask that question of our leader who will be announced on Sunday,” said Palmer. “I don’t normally answer questions in the state area.” He believed the link was important for Victoria, but there were times when breaking contracts was the right thing to do.

“I haven’t got the details of the contract so I can’t comment on it,” he said.

He appeared interested in the Latrobe valley, the heart of the state’s energy industry. Did he support new mines in the valley?

“We haven’t looked at mining in particular.” Perhaps, he said, workers would benefit from setting up steel mills or nickel processing plants. What of Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest power station, fed by an adjacent coalmine? Would this coal baron shut it down?

“We need to have a review of the whole valley, and the whole resources, what we’ve got there and see how it can go forward in a better way,” was the response. “In Queensland, we’ve got clean coal and clean energy.”

Palmer pointed out that 160,000 Victorians had voted for the PUP at the federal election last year. That was 3.6% of the primary vote, compared with 5.5% the party received nationally. It didn’t win a Senate seat in Victoria and in recent state elections in South Australia and Tasmania, it also failed to garner significant support.

Victoria’s upper house comprises eight regions, with five members elected for each. Most experts say that it is possible for minor parties to win seats this time with strategic preference flows, especially because there are a record 21 parties standing, up from 10 at the last election

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