Slipper sent packing by Palmer’s UAP
PETER Slipper's plans to align himself with Clive Palmer's United Australia Party came to a sudden halt last night when members unexpectedly cancelled his membership.
Just hours after announcing the Fisher MP's membership had been accepted, the UAP released a brief statement on its website announcing members had decided to revoke it.
"Under clause D26 of the constitution of the party, a majority of foundation members have decided that the membership for Peter Slipper has ceased forthwith," the statement said.
It was a shock turnaround but it is believed the UAP would have bypassed some party registration requirements by recruiting a sitting member of parliament.
The UAP has not yet been formally registered as a party with the Australian Electoral Commission, but claims to have "thousands of members".
It was last night unclear how many of them had been involved in cancelling Mr Slipper's membership.
There was no sign of what was to come earlier in the day when the independent Member for Fisher appeared to have had his application rubber-stamped.
Mr Palmer, billionaire mining magnate and owner of Palmer Coolum Resort, had told the Daily he didn't personally approach Mr Slipper to join the party and was taken by surprise when his application was received.
"I'm just completely neutral about it, it's a bit of a shock," he said.
"Until someone joins your party you don't know, do you? So, I don't know.
"I think the whole thing is, it's a question of whether or not he will be standing for a seat or not, I suppose.
"I have no idea if that's the case."
Mr Palmer did confirm the UAP's constitution would have allowed Mr Slipper to run as independent in his current seat of Fisher, against endorsed UAP candidate Bill Schoch.
"I just don't comment on those things because I don't want to influence anyone, one way or another," Mr Palmer said.
"I don't want to avoid a comment, but everyone's got to have a fair opportunity to be heard.
"I've got no notice that that is what he intends to do."
Before Mr Slipper's membership application was rejected, Mr Schoch had indicated he was not worried about him taking over his endorsement.
"I'm sure, my announcement as candidate for Fisher, of course it'll stand, it's rock solid," the general manager of Mr Palmer's Coolum resort said.
Mr Slipper did not respond to a phone message, emails and text requests for an interview.
He is still facing legal proceedings for charges of defrauding the Commonwealth and sexual harassment action from one of his former staff.
His main opponent in Fisher, the LNP's Mal Brough, suggested Mr Slipper would have damaged the UAP's reputation.
"Any level of credibility that Palmer's party may have been looking at, has been evaporated in one fell swoop," he said after hearing the membership application had been accepted.
If his membership had been accepted, Mr Slipper would have become the first federal MP to have been a member of four different parties - the Nationals, Liberals, the LNP and the UAP.
Ironically, Mr Slipper once derailed Mr Palmer's political career by defeating him in a 1984 Fisher pre-selection.