After a year of discovering who really runs Australia, The Power Index is finally set to reveal the country's fifty most powerful people.
Throughout July, Paul Barry and The Power Index team will be counting down the most influential people in the nation from business, media, politics, sport and culture.
The Power 50 / 2012
CEO of Mineralogy and executive chairman of Waratah Coal
Born in: Williamstown, Victoria
Friends: Bruce McIver
Foes: Hyatt Hotels | Frank Lowy | Anna Bligh
Crazy Clive Palmer is one of those colourful Queenslanders who made life such fun in the 1980s. Large, loud and litigious, he amassed millions in Gold Coast property before turning it into billions more recently with big bets in mining.
A lifelong supporter of the National Party, Big C once worked for Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen as his media adviser, and he has clearly adopted some of the old premier’s barmy ideas. According to Clive, the CIA has been conspiring to destroy the Australian coal industry by funding Greenpeace to attack it. You don’t say?
Palmer has also said recently he’s keen to set up his own Queensland newspaper, or join Gina Rinehart in Fairfax. Now that would be fun...
No one’s quite certain what Palmer is worth, because none of his coal and iron ore projects are up and running yet: BRW reckons he’s a $5 billion man, while Forbes plumps for a mere $795 million. But either way he’s rich enough to be the biggest political donor in Australia, giving nearly $3 million to the Coalition in the last three years (with the bulk going to Queensland’s LNP).
Palmer is close to LNP founder and president, Bruce McIver, but less so to the state’s new premier Campbell Newman. As to how much power that gives him, we’re not sure, but he might have more if he said less.