National

No end in sight to Palmer’s WA battle

By AAP Newswire

Western Australia's position is ironclad against future legal challenges, the premier says, after passing laws to stop Clive Palmer claiming damages against the state.

WA's parliament has passed legislation to amend a 2002 state agreement with Mr Palmer's Mineralogy company and terminate arbitration between the two parties, amid fears the state could be facing up to $30 billion in damages.

The unprecedented bill was signed into law by Governor Kim Beazley close to midnight on Thursday, just two days after it was introduced.

But the saga is no closer to being resolved after Mr Palmer filed an application in the Federal Court seeking to force the withdrawal of the legislation.

Premier Mark McGowan says he fully expects further legal manoeuvring from Mr Palmer but has been advised the state's position is solid.

"He was seeking to injunct the parliament, that was a pretty outrageous act," Mr McGowan said on Friday.

"But the bill is already through, it's the law of the state ... it defeats any Federal Court action."

Mr Palmer has responded by launching local radio advertisements in which he labels WA a "banana republic" and claims the premier, whom he has likened to Adolf Hitler, wants control of the courts.

"This matter will be thrown out by the High Court and these people will be as stupid as they look because they've down-valued every investment in Western Australia," he told Seven's Sunrise program.

The billionaire mining magnate on Thursday revealed the Queensland Supreme Court had formally registered his two arbitration awards.

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

Mr McGowan said that action would also be covered by the bill, which was fast-tracked through parliament with the support of the WA Nationals and Greens.

"We're very confident of our position but obviously he will litigate - this is what he does," he said.

"When we started this process, I knew he would take us to court. I knew he would launch a massive advertising campaign against Western Australia and me personally. We knew all that. That's his nature. But we had to do this to protect the people of the state."

Mr McGowan said the legislation did not set a precedent for other state agreements, labelling it an extraordinary situation that demanded an extraordinary response.

Liberal MP Nick Goiran said the process was a "pathetic charade for democracy" after the opposition was denied more time to scrutinise the legislation.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had no issues with the move, adding that Mr Palmer should drop his borders challenge.

Mr Palmer and his associated companies Mineralogy and International Minerals are pursuing damages over a 2012 decision by the former Liberal government not to assess his proposed Balmoral South iron ore mine in the Pilbara.

The government has calculated the total claim to be $27.7 billion minus costs, an amount the premier said would cripple the state.

Mr Palmer is also challenging WA's borders in the High Court, but it emerged this week he had offered to withdraw the bid if officials agreed to move arbitration hearings relating to the damages claim from Perth to Canberra.