Clive Palmer has threatened to take his near-$30 billion legal claim against the West Australian government all the way to the High Court after the state put up legislation to halt the suit.
Mr Palmer’s Mineralogy company is pursuing WA for damages over a 2012 decision by the then-Liberal government to refuse to formally assess its proposed Balmoral South iron ore mine in the Pilbara.
Late on Tuesday, WA Attorney-General John Quigley stood in the parliament and told MPs Mr Palmer and his associated companies Mineralogy and International Minerals were claiming a total of $27.7 billion.
“To put that in context, the total net debt of the state of Western Australia is in the order of $35 billion to $40 billion and the budget of the state of Western Australia is approximately $30 billion,” Mr Quigley said.
“If the cost of Mr Palmer’s claim was shared equally amongst all Western Australians, it would cost every man, woman, child and baby in Western Australia more than $12,000.”
The attorney-general admitted the government’s bill to stop Mr Palmer’s legal action was “unprecedented”.
“This bill will remove the capacity for Mr Palmer, Mineralogy and International Minerals to pursue litigation and damages claims,” he said.
Mr Palmer slammed the emergency legislation, saying Mineralogy had sent its dispute regarding the planned mine to an independent arbitrator, which ruled against the government.
“The government must have determined that they’ve got no defence in the claims and they will lose. This is why they seek emergency legislation,” he said in a statement.
“This emergency legislation is unconstitutional.
“Ultimately this matter will end up in the High Court of Australia.”
Mr Palmer will hold a news conference in Brisbane at noon on Wednesday.