Clive Palmer has abandoned efforts to make Australia great from a New Zealand base, instead transferring ownership of his flagship resources company to Singapore to help threaten the WA Government with a $45 billion claim.
Mr Palmer, who is spending big on a Donald Trump-inspired political comeback campaign promising to “Put Australia First”, moved control over his main corporate entity, Mineralogy, from New Zealand to a recently registered Singaporean company at the end of last month.
It is the second time Mr Palmer has shifted control of Mineralogy between companies in two months.
His first plan, to use New Zealand as a base to threaten the State Government with a massive lawsuit, ended in embarrassment after confirmation free-trade agreements between the two countries could not be used to sue governments over changes to the law.
The threat is part of Mr Palmer’s battles with China’s CITIC over royalty payments and control over the $16 billion Sino Iron magnetite project in the Pilbara.
The Queensland businessman and comeback politician had threatened to use the dispute procedures in Australia’s free-trade deal with New Zealand to unleash a lawsuit against the Government if it intervened in Mineralogy’s dispute with CITIC.
A spokesman for the State Government yesterday confirmed Mr Palmer had followed up his initial threat, made on January 18, with a second threatening letter this month, this time listing the Singaporean company as Mineralogy’s owner.
While it is understood Singapore, unlike New Zealand, allows private companies to launch actions against Australian governments under so-called investor-state dispute settlement provisions in free-trade agreements, trade experts suggest Mr Palmer’s latest effort is likely to fail.
Mr Palmer did not respond to a request for comment.