Former MP and current Hinkler candidate Rob Messenger is considering joining forces with Clive Palmer.
Former MP and current Hinkler candidate Rob Messenger is considering joining forces with Clive Palmer.

Messenger to make decision on joining Palmer's party

FORMER Member for Burnett Rob Messenger is still deciding whether to join billionaire Clive Palmer's new United Australia Party.

Mr Messenger said yesterday he was still studying the party's constitution and would make an announcement later this week.

He said he was also having discussions with his wife about his future.

Mr Messenger said he had had several discussions with Mr Palmer.

"I have had discussions with him over some policies I'd like him to get interested in," he said.

Mr Messenger said his policies included new and improved deals for returned servicemen and women.

This included a network of federally supported bush camps where returned veterans could camp out.

Mr Messenger said one of his major concerns was the issue of conscience votes for party members on social issues such as abortion.

The other important principle he wanted to clarify was that an MP's first loyalty was to his community, and he should vote the way they wanted him to.

Mr Palmer says interest in his new party has been so great the group's website crashed over the weekend.

He announced on Friday he was reviving the United Australia Party and would himself stand in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax.

Mr Palmer said the party already had the requisite 500 members to register the party.

"I'd like to just issue a quick apology," he said on Meet The Press. "I'd just like to apologise to all those people that have gone to and tried to log on to join the party, because they've blown up the website. That's how we're going."

Mr Palmer said the party would press ahead with fielding candidates in all 150 lower seats as well as the Senate.

In terms of policies, he revealed social issues like same-sex marriage would be open to conscience votes, although he would not be drawn on his views on the contentious issue.

"Because I'm the federal leader of the United Australia Party, I don't want to influence anybody on the issue, and comment on that.

"That's our policy; everyone has a free vote," he said.

Slipper gives Clive the seal of approval:

PETER Slipper has ruled out suggestions he is retiring, but has come forward to back Clive Palmer as a candidate for Fairfax.

In a text message sent to the Sunshine Coast Daily, a sister newspaper of the NewsMail, Mr Slipper said, "contrary to what you have been told, I am continuing to service the people of Fisher as their member in the Federal Parliament."

He then went on to heap praise on controversial billionaire Clive Palmer and attack the former political party he has had allegiance to since being elected to parliament in 1993.

"Clive Palmer is a very successful businessman and I suspect his campaign would be well-funded and resourced," Mr Slipper said.

"I imagine his candidacy would be viewed by many Fairfax residents as being more attractive than that of the LNP.

"The LNP's five ministers and the Speaker at state level have failed to deliver the crucial infrastructure required by the Coast to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population, which will double in the next 10 to 15 years.

"The LNP takes the Coast for granted."