TIME Australia

The Chinese Government Are ‘Bastards,’ Says an Australian MP

Clive Palmer Addresses National Press Club
Clive Palmer speaks at the National Press Club on July 7, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. Stefan Postles—Getty Images

"They shoot their own people, they haven't got a justice system and they want to take over this country"

An Australian legislator and mining magnate has delivered a scathing tirade against Chinese investment in Australia, calling the Chinese government “bastards” who want to usurp control of the nation. He also referred to a Chinese resources company as “mongrels.”

“They’re communist, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country. And we’re not going to let them,” said MP Clive Palmer, during a live debate aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The Chinese government wants to bring workers here to destroy our wage system … they want to take over our ports and get our resources for free. So far they’ve shifted $200 million [Australian dollars, or about $186 million] worth of iron ore out of this country without paying for it. I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it.”

The comments were uttered in the context of a legal battle between Palmer’s Mineralogy mining company and Chinese-owned Citic Pacific Mining over multibillion-dollar cost blow-outs and royalty payments for an iron ore port in Western Australia.

“We’ll be suing them and they’ll be answering the questions,” Palmer continued. “We’ve had three judgments in the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Western Australia and an arbitration against these Chinese mongrels,” he said.

The comments were not completely out of character for the political firebrand whose newly minted Palmer United Party won a slew of seats during 2013’s federal and state elections on the back of a populist campaign.

Last year, after threatening to sue Australian-born media baron Rupert Murdoch over an opinion column that questioned Palmer’s claims to being a billionaire, university professor and adviser to the G-20, Palmer called Murdoch a “gutless wonder.” He also made some colorful observations about Wendi Deng, Murdoch’s Chinese-born ex-wife.

“Wendi Deng is a Chinese spy and that’s been right across the world,” Palmer told Australia’s Channel 9 TV network. “She’s been spying on Rupert for years, giving money back to Chinese intelligence. Read the truth about it. She was trained in Southern China. I’m telling you the truth. That’s why Rupert Murdoch got rid of her.”

Palmer’s on-again off-again relationship with the Chinese reads like the script of a Judd Apatow movie. Last year, he ordered 117 full-scale animatronic dinosaurs from China for Palmersaurus, a theme park set around the Palmer Coolum Resort in Queensland.

His plans to build a fully functioning replica of the Titanic have meanwhile stalled after it was revealed in May he was yet to sign a contract with the Chinese shipbuilder CSC Jinling despite announcing a deal was imminent early last year.

Palmer offered his version of an apology for his remarks this morning, tweeting that his comments were “not intended to refer to Chinese people but to Chinese company which is taking Australian resources & not paying.”

Concern has nonetheless arisen over the potential economic and diplomatic fallout from Palmer’s verbal attacks against Australia’s largest trading partner, with leading political figures lining up to slap his wrist.

“Hopefully China will ignore it, but I’ll contact the Chinese embassy to point out that these views are not representative of the Australian Parliament and I don’t believe representative of the Australian people,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Fairfax Radio. “Mr. Palmer’s comments are offensive, they are unnecessary, and it’s unacceptable for a Member of Parliament to make such comments, particularly on a national television program.”

“I think it is hugely damaging for Mr. Palmer to make those sort of comments,” added Treasurer Joe Hockey. “He is in a very obvious legal dispute with his Chinese partners, but I’d say to Mr. Palmer, please don’t bring down the rest of Australia because of your biases.”

Condemnation for Palmer has even come from Pauline Hanson, a former MP and poster-girl of the far right, who shot to notoriety after claiming Australia was being “swamped by Asians” in a 1996 parliamentary address. After losing her seat and being convicted, jailed and then acquitted of electoral fraud, Hanson has reinvented herself as a reality-TV star and now, apparently, a voice of reason.

“I’ve always said clean up your own backyard before criticizing other people,” she told Australia’s Channel 7 network. “It’s not up to Clive Palmer or anyone else. It’s not for us or Australia to get involved in that.”

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