The Townsville Bulletin reports that Townsville independent mayoral candidate Greg Dowling received $100,000 from one of Clive Palmer’s companies a day before he announced his candidacy.

This strikes many in Townsville as odd, to say the least, because Dowling told the media he has ‘no idea’ if Palmer would give him money and said he “hasn’t discussed financial backing with the mining magnate.” This latest revelation proves that Dowling, just now starting his mayoral race, has already lied to the voters on a major issue.

It also casts some of Dowling’s other claims in doubt; “I am an independent, I have no ties to any party,” he said earlier in January. Palmer sang a different tune even back then, raising early red flags; “Anybody is allowed to contribute to political finance, it’s all transparent, there will be a number of corporates that contribute and Clive’s one of them,” said a Palmer rep. Clearly, Dowling is a Palmer candidate.

Dowling and Palmer under the UAP logo in 2019. Picture: Shae Beplate

There is also the question of transparency; despite promises by Dowling to reveal future donations to the public, the data was not revealed by Dowling himself, but by the Electoral Commission of Queensland. Dowling kept denying lying to voters, saying he had ‘no idea’ Mineralogy Pty Ltd donated $100,000 until days after it dropped into his campaign account. This seems unlikely.

A former rugby player, Dowling has already run for the seat of Herbert in the 2019 federal elections as the United Australia Party candidate and failed to win it. This earlier party affiliation had many in Townsville waiting for information about a political donation from Palmer to be released.

Palmer owned the Queensland Nickel nickel refinery in Townsville, which went bankrupt in 2015. In announcing its liquidation, QN left 800 workers without a job or compensation. Palmer himself has addressed the issue many times and finally promised to repay the workers in full in 2019. It is unclear if payments have indeed been made.

Twitter users discussing Palmer’s QN entitlements. Source: www.twitter.com

Why is Palmer so bent on controlling one of Townsville’s most influential positions? One possible explanation could be the $2.5million lawsuit pending against him by the Townsville Council. Palmer is being sued for rates and water charges he failed to pay for the Yabulu refinery site, as well as a property at Black River, the council says. Perhaps Palmer wants to use a favourable mayor to have this lawsuit and fees wavered.

Another explanation could be Palmer’s alleged aspirations to reopen his Queensland Nickel refinery. Palmer has talked about this issue for years, hinting that he might one day reopen the refinery. However, in September 2019 Palmer said he committed $400million to restart the collapsed business. Sadly, Palmer has missed several of his own deadlines for reopening QN, causing Townsville residents to lose faith in it ever happening.

More recently, Palmer blamed the Port of Townsville (to which the bankrupt QN still owes $1million) for failing to give him a birth and threatened to run a “public relations campaign” against them, a claim which was quickly refuted by the Port authorities;

“We simply require QN to provide evidence that it has the finance and approvals to re-open the refinery, and appropriate guarantees to ensure that the berth would remain in continuous use,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the Port was “open to do business whenever QN is ready”.

Whatever Palmer hopes to do in Townsville with the mayoral position in his pocket has locals concerned. As stated earlier, Dowling already ran for the UAP in 2019, winning less than 5% of the vote. Palmer and the UAP must know that the people of Townsville are not as willing to forgive and forget as they had previously believed, and now Dowling is running “independently”. Alas, how independent can Dowling be after receiving $100,000?

More about this bizarre case to follow.