- Palmer under fire over remarks about Credlin
- James Massola: Palmer's comments have embarrassed only himself
It is tempting, from time to time, to imagine Clive Palmer becoming so puffed up with self-importance that, like an over-inflated balloon at a party or Monty Python's corpulent Mr Creosote taking the last dinner mint, he explodes, leaving nothing but the slightest evidence that he existed.
Palmer blew into Canberra with all the makings of a merry prankster, sent to entertain us and to fill the void left by the disappearance from politics of characters who could grab and hold the public imagination.
Why, here was a fellow who broke the mould, who spouted the very last thought that came into his head, even if that turned out to be the direct opposite of the thought before that, who turned up to Parliament House in an old Rolls Royce designed to ferry royalty and when it broke down, rolled up in a brand new Bentley (and on Monday, squeezed himself into a Mercedes gull-wing sports car).
He snoozed through question time when he felt like attending and merrily caused the Prime Minister sleepless nights with threats to detonate the budget. Amusing old Clive.
A mere chance meeting between Clive and Malcolm Turnbull over slow-cooked duck and caramelised banana split with coconut ice-cream evolved, among fantasists across the land, into the makings of a leadership crisis.
Palmer, however, will struggle for dinner companions from now on, for he turns out to be what we all should have suspected.
He's a buffoon.
How else might we explain a parliamentarian who attacks a woman for wanting a baby; a woman, moreover, who has revealed the pain of discovering that it might be beyond her destiny and who has reached for the hope of IVF, so far unsuccessful.
We don't need to explain it, or to add to the discomfort of Peta Credlin, even if she is more capable than most of looking after herself. As the Prime Minister's chief of staff and in a long career in the political firmament she's seen and survived plenty of tough days and handed out some hard treatment herself to those around her.
But Palmer deserved to be called out for his accusation that Tony Abbott's government designed its paid parental scheme ''just so that the Prime Minister's chief-of-staff can receive a massive benefit when she gets pregnant''.
What a spiteful, ill-informed (Abbott himself has been talking and writing about his paid parental scheme for years before Ms Credlin became his chief of staff) and plain sexist attack it was, masquerading up as policy debate.
And Palmer knew it, as his following sly comment about Ms Credlin's alleged role in formulating government policy made clear.
''She's the top enchilada. She's the top dog - oh, I shouldn't say that. She's the boss. She's chief of staff. She's the top person.''
''Top dog - oh, I shouldn't say that.'' Charming.
And then, trying desperately to rescue his position, Clive had the nerve to tweet ''..I've not intended to personally attack Peta Credlin in my PPL criticisms. However, no key position in government should escape scrutiny.''
Party's over. Clive Palmer is a hot-air balloon.
And he's popped. Blown himself to smithereens.