The only way Clive Palmer's plan to disinter the corpse of the United Australia Party could be more exciting is if he planned to spend a few million bucks disinterring the corpse of Billy Hughes and reanimating the shrivelled carcass of the ''Little Digger'' to lead his zombie party to greatness. Unless he reanimated Bob Menzies of course, just for the lulz of completely breaking the Liberal Party's brain.
But he won't. I suspect from the devilishly cheeky twinkle in his eyes when he announced all this that Clive sees himself in the role of Menzies – the portly, grandfatherly figure, back from the dead to bring sensible conservative politics back from the brink. (Although in this case, given how quickly the actual conservative movement rushed to bury Clive, they see themselves being dragged back from the brink of winning the next election).
Mining magnate Clive Palmer has re-formed the UAP to contest the federal election. Photo: Rob Homer
Clive has form of course. Coal is not the only fossil he's been known to dig up. While we know and love him for making Queensland premier Campbell Newman's eyes bulge right out of his head like bloodshot ping pong balls, and for revealing Bob Brown's secret identity as Jason Bourne, overseas he's better known for plans to build a theme park full of ''rombot-dinosaurs''; a magical place Clive wants to call Jurassic Park. (It really would be magical if he pulled this one off, because he'll have to conjure up a way around other people's ownership of the intellectual property. People like Steven Spielberg, and the estate of Michael Crichton, and their massed and hungry horde of carnivorous IP lawyers, which would come charging down on Clive like a seething swarm of snarling raptors, drawn by the initial copyright infringement, but toppled into a feeding frenzy by all of his mining lease money).
Even more famous than his love of dinosaurs, however, is his plan to refloat the Titanic. Or at least a decent replica thereof, with no TVs or internet connections because when the passengers of the original Big T went to their cold and watery graves they did so without the benefit of the Home Shopping Network or broadband tentacle porn. Clive is nothing if not a stickler for the details.
Because of this he will almost certainly move to include a representative selection of the left-wing nutbags in his party line up to complement the right-wing nutbags he inherits from Bob Katter, who must surely be all a-quiver with anticipating the prospect of playing Earle Page to Clive's Joe Lyons should the two parties merge.
The UAP was stitched together like a Franken-party, from the cast off bits and pieces of former conservative party members and maverick ALP deserters. Given that most of the Labor members of parliament are about to have their own personal extinction experience, it shouldn't be too hard for Clive to cleave a few of them away. If you're heading for the electoral tar pit, why not sign on with a bloke who might just save you from becoming a museum exhibit? With policies like encouraging refugees to fly in, rather than catch those slow leaky boats, Clive's sure to pick up some of the lentil and Birkenstock vote. At least until they realise he wants those asylum seekers seeking their asylum out on his diggin's.
The strange anxiety of the major parties about Clive's plans was revealed by the effort they spent trying to disparage them, often in tandem, with Kevin Rudd and Joe Hockey reprising their popular breakfast TV act to chorus, 'Show us yer policies!"
Although asking Clive to show you anything betrays a certain cluelessness as to the very special rules by which he plays. He'll show you all right. He'll show you his dinosaurs and toy boats and this spiffing new bit of gear he's just bought. This antique political party. And while we're at it, sit down and let Clive tell you all about the CIA's deep cover operations to undermine the local mining industry. You ever hear about Bob Brown? His real name's not Brown you know. It's Bourne.