Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer has accused the Gillard government of a naive approach to its relationship with China and of potentially allowing the United States to drive a wedge in the relationship after President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia last week.
Speaking in Melbourne yesterday, Mr Palmer said the government’s deal with the US for 2500 marines to be based in Darwin and increased US use of naval and air bases in northern Australia had harmed Australian and Chinese business relations.
He was not surprised many business leaders snubbed last week’s state dinner in Canberra with President Obama.
“Why do you think the likes of the head of BHP and myself didn’t go to the dinner? It’s because we aren’t that stupid,” he said. “We have real interests [in China] and know how the Chinese act.”
Mr Palmer, a life member of the Liberal-National Party, said he had turned down an invitation to the dinner and an invitation to sit in the public gallery for Mr Obama’s address to a joint sitting.