Clive Palmer has described his disbelief, fear and withdrawal from public life amid “the war” against him, as he took to the witness stand in his stoush with Mark McGowan.
Mining magnate Clive Palmer has described his disbelief, fear and withdrawal from public life amid “the war” declared against him, as he took to the witness stand in his defamation suit against Premier Mark McGowan.
During day three of the hearings, which centre around defamation actions the pair have launched against each other, Mr Palmer told the Federal Court in Sydney he was "amazed" by comments the premier had made about the state of Western Australia being "in a war” with him.
He added that he was hesitant to inflame the situation given his company, Mineralogy’s, interests in the state and the number of employees living in WA.
“I didn’t think WA had the power to declare war on anyone,” Mr Palmer told the court.
“I had no ill will towards Mr McGowan or his family - I bore him no malice.
“I was at a loss and didn’t want to inflame the situation because I had a company with lots of employees in WA whose livelihoods depended on its continuation.
“I felt fear and embarrassment.”
Mr Palmer was also quizzed about his response to a Facebook post Mr McGowan shared to his public page on August 14 regarding the passage of a Bill in state parliament to thwart a $27 billion damages claim lodged by Mr Palmer and Mineralogy.
He told the court he believed the state government’s conduct to have "effectively destroyed" his mining companies and the assets he had spent the past two decades developing.
“When you are dealing with billion-dollar projects, you need to have a good relationship with both the state and federal governments.
“This was somewhat of a ‘sayonara’ from me and my companies in WA - as well as the assets I had spent 20 years developing.
“The allegations we were trying to disadvantage Western Australians were simply not true.
“All we had done is I had recognised we had a claim and we should take it to arbitration, the fact the damages are large or small is a problem for the state.
“We tried to approach the mediation in good faith, but it appeared there was no good faith here and no path forward.
“It wasn’t about him or me or you, it was about the system, our company’s rights and whether they had been destroyed.”
Mr Palmer also recounted his disbelief at comments allegedly made by the state’s Attorney General, John Quigley, and the fact that the state had appeared to be open to mediation in good faith, but was simultaneously drafting the amending Bill.
“We embarked on an agreement, we thought we were all going to mediation for a resolution,” he said.
“When we read the interview from Mr Quigley, I could not believe they would deceive the mediator and us.
“I was very angry that I had been deceived and I felt stupid for believing them [the state government] in the first place.
“You expect people of that status to have a respect for the law … and not to act in a dishonest way.
“I felt stupid, helpless and I got really mad that they lied to everybody.
“They had signed a mediation agreement just eight days earlier and he [Mr Quigley] seemed to be proud of the fact that he had acted dishonestly.”
In closing, Mr Palmer got candid about the emotional and physical toll he claims the stoush and the subsequent media coverage had on him, claiming he vomited and retreated from public life over fear for his own safety, as well as that of his family and of his employees in WA.
Mr Palmer also recounted a video he claimed he had been shown depicting people in a nightclub chanting that they wanted to kill him.
“I ended up vomiting,” he told the court.
“I didn’t expect that when they called me an enemy of the state, that this would come later.
“I didn’t want to go outside, I didn’t want to give interviews.
“Despite my anger, I realised I had a responsibility to my family and the people who worked for me.
“It’s hard to remain controlled when there has been this level of violence against you.”
Mr Palmer became noticeably uncomfortable and flushed as the state’s legal counsel Bret Walker grilled him about his claims Mr McGowan was operating a “propaganda machine”, labelling his evidence “absurd”.
In the minutes that followed, the pair engaged in a heated exchange over the exact amount of damages Mr Palmer was suing the state of WA for.
“It is before the courts and I cannot comment on it," he told reporters.
“I am required to give evidence on the matter next week.
“Anything I say could be unlawful at this point in time.
“But I would say this; this action was brought by Mr Palmer.”
The legal showdown follows a bitter battle between the pair, including claims relating to the circumstances surrounding WA legislation that prevented Mr Palmer and Mineralogy from suing the state for billions of dollars.
He claimed the legislation, introduced by the state government, was unconstitutional.