Queensland-based mining magnate and agent provocateur Clive Palmer is no stranger to controversy and nor are some of his United Australia Party candidates in the Federal Election. Wentworth’s Mike Bloomfield is one such case.
Queensland-based mining magnate and agent provocateur Clive Palmer is no stranger to controversy and nor are some of his United Australia Party candidates in this month’s Federal Election.
According to a report in the electorate’s local newspaper, the UAP’s Wentworth candidate Mike Bloomfield appeared to canvas policy suggestions from users of a far-right Facebook page that features racist content.
Mr Bloomfield, who said he attends an African church and has a Brazilian wife, last week announced his candidacy in the blue-ribbon eastern Sydney seat held by Independent Kerryn Phelps.
When asked about his social media activities, Mr Bloomfield described his decision to post to the page “Make Australia Grouse Again 3” as “silly”, according to the Wentworth Courier, after he asked users to call, text and email him suggestions before policies were drafted by the party in April.
“The Facebook page has 6000 likes and posted pictures with the captions ‘still trying to figure out why the gov got rid of the white Australia policy’ and ‘multiculturalism is a hate crime against white people’ last month,” the Courier reported.
“I created some posts asking for any policy suggestions, ” Mr Bloomfield told the local newspaper. “However, I got that wrong . . . so was silly to ask for input anyway. Pointless, but I thought that was what they wanted me to do.”
The experienced IT worker said he believed in the UAP’s “strong vision and leadership” to make Australia great again.
Party leader Clive Palmer also named him as the UAP’s Shadow Communications Minister.
Mr Palmer has been running a hugely disruptive campaign that promises to shake up the election.
The UAP has said that it intended to spend more than $50 million on the election campaign, targeting Australians with mobile phone text messages, television ads, robot calls and billboards.
This extraordinary spending spree dwarfs both those of the major political parties, who as of January had only spent around $2 million each on advertising, although this has ramped up since the official start of the campaign two weeks ago; Nielsen data reports that the UAP spends around this amount each week.
Double-page spreads in newspapers across the country taken out by Mr Palmer proclaimed “The United Australia Party will win government”, and warned readers not to pay attention to “fake news”.
The adverts made good on Mr Palmer’s promise to field candidates in all 151 seats in the lower house. In addition to their names and pictures, Mr Palmer took the unprecedented step of also listing all candidates’ mobile phone numbers.
However, the larger-than-life Sunshine Coast businessman has vowed not to grant interviews to what he calls the “fake media”.
“For too long media have been doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The media in this country want to control outcomes so they make up fake news,’’ he said.
“I’m only spending advertising dollars on TV in this country to offer balance and to position real facts correctly.”
The controversial businessman has previously been embroiled in a series of lawsuits, including a long-running dispute with liquidators over the closure of his Queensland Nickel Refinery in Townsville.
Mr Palmer, who owes about $US70 million in unpaid wages and taxes, said he was not responsible for the dismissal of the workers.
“We are all on Struggle Street together,” Mr Palmer, then the Federal Member for Fairfax, said in 2015 of Tony Abbott’s second Budget.
Those who might be struggling are any UAP candidates who quit the party after winning a seat on May 18; all have signed contracts agreeing to a $400,000 fine for jumping ship.
Mr Bloomfield told The Guardian the agreements were important “so people know that the candidate can’t just run away once they are elected”.
Mr Bloomfield, who describes himself as a friend of Palmer, is no stranger to small parties. He ran as a Federal candidate in Warringah in 2013 for Rise Up Australia, a rightwing party founded by Pentecostal minister Danny Nalliah in 2013.
“People are hungry for something else; we just need enough airtime to communicate our message,” he told The Guardian.
“We’re planning a $7,800 boost to pensions, tax deductibility for home loans and free university. These are profound policies.
“And we need to get rid of the Murray Darling Basin plan, move to a Bradfield solution to get a flow of water through NSW and Queensland. Once we make our land fertile and rich with water, people will see how wealthy we can be as a nation.”