Australia

Palmer loses High Court battle against WA

But the High Court on Wednesday found the law was not invalid, ordering Mr Palmer and Mineralogy to pay the costs of the court action.

Attorney-General John Quigley says this brings to $2 million the amount Mr Palmer owes the government for these proceedings and a challenge to COVID-19 border closures.

“If he doesn’t properly pay this … the next time he flies to Western Australia as soon as we lift our border restriction I’m going to have the sheriff … seize his plane and sell it and he can catch the train home,” Mr Quigley told ABC News Perth.

“This is outrageous that this man keeps taking us to the High Court and then refusing to pay the Western Australian taxpayer’s bill.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan described the outcome as a “monumental victory”, terminating Mineralogy’s claim for damages that would have left the state bankrupt.

“Time and time again, Clive Palmer has attempted to bring our state down – first, by challenging the hard border that kept Western Australians safe through a pandemic, and then by launching an outrageous legal claim for damages,” he said in a social media post.

“Enough is enough. Today’s win is proof that our government will never stop fighting for the people of Western Australia.”

Mr Palmer was reviewing the judgment, his spokesman told AAP.

The bill to amend a 2002 state agreement with Mineralogy and terminate arbitration between the two parties was passed by WA’s parliament in August last year.

The legislation was designed to block Mr Palmer from suing over a decision by the former Liberal state government not to assess one of his mining projects.

It followed a 2001 agreement between Mineralogy and the WA government that the company could submit proposals in relation to mining projects in the Pilbara region.

The relevant minister could respond in various ways, but not reject the proposals.

Disputes arose in relation to a 2012 proposal which were referred to arbitration resulting in awards favouring Palmer companies.

Mr Palmer, who represented himself in the High Court proceedings, described the legislation as unconstitutional, “repugnant to justice” and “an abomination masquerading as a law”.

He argued against it on several fronts, including that it discriminated against him as a Queensland resident.

The High Court decision followed a four-day hearing in June.

Stephen Free SC, representing the West Australian government, said the bill would have had the same effect on Mr Palmer if he lived in WA.

“It is perfectly clear that there is no disability or discrimination of the relevant kind imposed on Mr Palmer or anyone else,” he said.

The state argued the legislation was passed “in order to protect Western Australians from the crippling effects” of a $30 billion damages claim.

The High Court last year struck out Mr Palmer’s constitutional challenge to WA’s hard border closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Palmer also has a defamation claim against Mr McGowan before the Federal Court.

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