WA's Palmer law a destructive 'juggernaut'

Clive Palmer has had another setback in his $30 billion legal battle against the state of WA.
Clive Palmer has had another setback in his $30 billion legal battle against the state of WA.

Western Australia's anti-Clive Palmer legislation has been described as "a juggernaut destroying everything in its path" by a judge who has denied the billionaire's attempt to bolster a $30 billion damages claim against the state.

WA's parliament in August passed extraordinary legislation to amend a 2002 state agreement with Mr Palmer's Mineralogy company and terminate arbitration between the two parties.

The bill is designed to block the mining magnate from claiming damages over a decision by the former Liberal state government not to assess one of his mining projects.

Its validity will be decided by the High Court next year.

Mr Palmer, through Mineralogy and his other company International Minerals, secured orders in the Queensland Supreme Court to have the arbitration awards formally registered shortly before the bill was signed into law.

He claimed this meant WA's "draconian and disgraceful" legislation would now be invalid under the constitution.

The matter returned to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, where Justice Glenn Martin ruled the orders should be set aside.

He found Mr Palmer's companies had not been entitled to proceed with the action without having first notified the WA government.

Mr Palmer had sought to have the proceedings adjourned until the validity of the legislation had been tested in the High Court.

Justice Martin said there was no basis for an adjournment. He said if Mineralogy was successful in the High Court, it could return to the Queensland Supreme Court and apply again to have the arbitration orders enforced.

The judge likened the WA legislation to ancient Rome and the fall of Carthage.

"The city was razed to the ground, the survivors were sold into slavery and Rome achieved hegemony over the western Mediterranean," he said.

"It was the last step in Rome's complete destruction of that commercial and military competitor.

"WA is not Rome. And Mineralogy is not Carthage. But the authors ... might be thought to have had the same level of obliteration in mind when that Act was drafted.

"The (bill), if valid, is a juggernaut destroying everything in its path."

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the government would do whatever it took to fight Mr Palmer and "save the state".

"We make absolutely no apologies for being harsh when it comes to Clive Palmer," he said.

He said Mr Palmer was also claiming to have been discriminated against under Australia's free trade agreement with Singapore, where Mineralogy's parent company is registered.

The High Court this month struck out Mr Palmer's constitutional challenge to WA's COVID-19 hard border closures.

A legal battle between the two parties is continuing to be fought on several fronts.

Mr Palmer in August filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr McGowan, who lodged his own counter-claim a month later.

The defamation matter will return to the Federal Court on December 11.

Mr Palmer, via Mineralogy, is pursuing further damages from the WA government with a claim of "unconscionable conduct" in the Federal Court.

Australian Associated Press