Ricky Muir fumbles through interview
Clive Palmer defends the performance of Ricky Muir after the Motoring Enthusiasts Party senator repeatedly hesitates and is unable to answer several questions in an interview on Channel 7's Sunday Night.PT2M35S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-39s6p 620 349 June 9, 2014
He is soon to become one of the most powerful players in Australian politics but incoming Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir is no polished media performer.
Mr Muir, who starts his six-year Senate term in July where he will hold a key vote as part of a bloc with the three Palmer United Party senators, fumbled his way through a television interview with Channel 7's Sunday Night.
When asked by reporter Mike Willesee to define the balance of power, Mr Muir paused and replied: "It's the potential ... if ... say in this case, Labor and Greens ... it's the power to vote down legislation in the right circumstances."
The timber mill worker who has joined forces with mining magnate Clive Palmer struggled with a number of questions, including one where he was asked to explain the ''after-market'' automobile industry.
When asked why he was so concerned about who manufactures cars, Mr Muir replied: "There's the after-market industry which can be supported ... people that are losing their jobs ... sorry ... can we start that question again?''
A second attempt to answer the question wasn't much better.
"There's the after-market industry ... which ... um ... sorry, can we go to another question? I've got myself into a fluster.''
Mr Willesee pressed on, asking Mr Muir to explain the after-market industry.
"The after-market industry is the industry that is ... can I go out for a minute?" Mr Muir said.
According to the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association, the term refers to: "The manufacturing, re-manufacturing, wholesaling, distribution, mechanical repair and modification services and retailing of all vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment and services ... except those products which are used in the manufacturing of original equipment.''
After-market sales of parts and accessories are estimated to be $5.6 billion.
In one of his few coherent responses, he told Willesee he was ''bringing in the voice of the everyday Australian" to the political arena.
His performance, which was part of a wider story about Mr Palmer, was reminiscent of Liberal Party candidate Jaymes Diaz's infamous ''stop the boats'' interview last year.
When quizzed about the Coalition's six-point plan to stop the boats, Mr Diaz struggled to name even one.
Mr Muir, a father-of-five from the Gippsland town of Heyfield, was reportedly too busy working to meet Prime Minister Tony Abbott in May but it was later revealed he was only a part-time employee at the sawmill where he works.
Mr Palmer leapt to Mr Muir's defence on Monday and lashed out at Willesee, calling him "a gutless wonder" and accusing Channel 7 of limiting the material it showed to portray Mr Muir in a bad light.
"He did an hour interview with me which he didn't show," Mr Palmer said.
"He also did interviews with leading US political figures which he didn't show.
"Most Australians have great sympathy for Ricky.
"They know like we do that he's a man of strong character, he's a family man, he hasn't been on national TV."
Mr Palmer said he was not worried about Mr Muir's ability to handle the job of a senator and he would remain a key figure in the PUP-aligned voting bloc of four in the new Senate.
"I think he'll contribute more than most of the members of Parliament do now, who are too scared to say anything because they're controlled by a small group of people," he said.
Another MP, National Darren Chester, has also defended Mr Muir, tweeting ''Muir not the first pollie to bomb in an interview with Willesee & won't be the last. Give him a chance - he might surprise everyone''.
Willesee defended the interview on Monday, telling 2UE: "It would have been far worse for Ricky if we'd run all of the things that he said.
"I really felt that I went easy on him ... We had to show that he was a novice who was not ready to go to the Senate."