Queensland mining billionaire Clive Palmer has announced plans to resurrect the United Australia Party (UAP).
This is quite consistent with his bizarre fascination with the building of a replica of the Titanic.
Both the Titanic and the UAP were disasters that promised much but eventually sank without a trace.
In the case of the original UAP, right-wing and pro-Empire social democrats joined forces in 1931 with conservatives who had fallen out with the Nationalist government and created a party whose slogan was “All for Australia and the Empire”.
The UAP won government in 1932 and attacked the working class during the 1930s Depression. It pursued a pro-fascist appeasement policy, particularly under its new leader Robert Menzies. He praised Hitler and bought into a huge fight with wharfies and other workers over the issue of exporting scrap (“pig”) iron to the Japanese militarists for their war of conquest in China.
The UAP became unpopular, especially after the outbreak of the Second World War, and only stayed in office after the 1940 election with the support of two independents.
Menzies (“Pig Iron” Bob) resigned as leader and was replaced by Fadden whose 1941 Budget was denied when the independents voted with Labor.
The Governor-General then asked Labor’s John Curtin to form a government.
Amazing, isn’t it, that a billionaire who fights against proposals for his industry to pay even the weakest of mining taxes, has the personal wealth to splash around with rebuilding the Titanic and financing his own political party.
But history is repeating itself here, both as a farce and a tragedy.
The original UAP was scorned as a corrupt party too closely tied to wealthy backers.
In his book, If Money Talks, What Does it Say?: Corruption and Business Financing of Political Parties, Iain McMenamin observes: “The Liberal Party’s interwar predecessor, the United Australia Party, was very much dependent on ‘self-constituted committees of wealthy supporters’ (p. 84).
The Wikipedia entry on the original UAP describes it as “compromised by their reliance on large donations from business and financial organisations”.
This latest display of “I’m-rich-enough-to-buy-all-of-you-and-bugger-paying-taxes” egoism is further proof that Australia’s working people need to stop carrying the rich, buy them all tickets on Clive’s rebuilt Titanic, and give it a huge push in the direction of the nearest ice-berg.