MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (Reuters) – A billionaire who built his own Jurassic Park and promises a replica Titanic may hold the balance of power in Australia’s parliament if his populist campaign wins enough votes in Saturday’s general election.
Clive Palmer, whose slogan “Make Australia Great” echoes U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, has spent tens of millions of dollars on a campaign aimed at disaffected voters in a country where casting a ballot is compulsory.
The unprecedented spending in an Australian election could help the businessman capture a powerful bloc in the upper house Senate, analysts say, and force a new government to seek his help to pass legislation.
“There’s a strong possibility that he could hold the balance of power,” said Rohan Millar, an academic at Sydney University. Palmer’s United Australia Party promises fast trains for the east coast cities of Sydney and Brisbane, and a 20% increase in pension payments for the elderly.
Full-page spreads in major newspapers promote the party platform, while Palmer’s portly visage, thumbs up, peers down from canary yellow billboards across the country.