Clive Palmer has labelled West Australian Premier Mark McGowan unpatriotic after the state leader described the mining magnate as a “greedy hypocrite” over a long-running dispute with a Chinese company.
Mr McGowan has indicated the state government could intervene in the stoush between Mr Palmer’s Mineralogy, which controls leases to the Sino Iron Ore project in the Pilbara region, and lessors CITIC.
The Chinese government-owned company wants to expand the project but Mineralogy won’t allow it.
Mr McGowan told state parliament on Tuesday his government was exploring its legal options over Mr Palmer’s “threat” to the more than 3000 WA workers on the project.
“He milks more than $1 million a day from the Chinese investors and then attacks Chinese investment,” Mr McGowan said.
“He is a greedy hypocrite. He is running a disgraceful attack on our biggest trading partner.”
Mr Palmer hit back, accusing Mr McGowan of having a “disturbing relationship” with the Chinese company and even called for the premier’s resignation.
“He’s happy to call me names and discriminate against an Australian company that owns the project’s mining leases, in favour of a Chinese communist government-owned group,” Mr Palmer said.
The mining magnate accused Mr McGowan of grandstanding before a federal election and said he was sour that Labor did not get the United Australia Party’s preferences.
He said Mr McGowan had refused to meet with him or any Mineralogy executives over the past year to discuss the dispute with CITIC, which he claims owes more than $500 million.
“They have failed to pay even one dollar into the site remediation fund, which was established under an agreement to provide security for the environmental damage the project would cause WA,” Mr Palmer said on Wednesday.