After saying justice in Australia “is a game”, Clive Palmer claimed privilege at least 84 times in court as he evaded questions about the collapse of Queensland Nickel.
For the second week in a row, the former Fairfax MP turned up to the Federal Court in Brisbane clinging to a sick bag and complaining of pain.
This time he was comparing his forced appearance to something that “would only happen in Nazi Germany”.
He was examined by lawyers for special purpose liquidators about decisions made around company shares, his recollection of ongoing Supreme Court proceedings involving one of his firms, Mineralogy, and the appointment of associate Domenic Martino as controller to another of his companies, China First, to get back a $135 million debt.
China First claimed it was owed the funds by Queensland Nickel as part of a deal struck just days before Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration.
The agreement committed the nickel company to buying $135 million of shares in the mine developer and if it couldn’t be paid, China First could go after Queensland Nickel’s assets.
Appearing rumpled in the witness box, Mr Palmer frequently told the court in hushed tones that he could not recall details being asked of him.
“I can’t respond to that … because of my health,” he said.
The mining magnate was last week ordered by a judge to appear in court to be questioned over the whereabouts of his jet-setting nephew Clive Mensink, despite claiming he was too sick and suffering from memory loss after taking the morphine-based drug, Targin, for pancreatitis.
Mr Palmer’s barrister, Andrew Boe, on Tuesday told the court his client was still sick and had ingested the painkiller within the past 24 hours.
At one point, standing with his belt undone, Mr Palmer reached down to pick the sick bag up off the floor.
Mr Mensink has failed to appear in court to answer liquidators’ questions about Queensland Nickel, which folded in early 2016 with about $300 million in debts and the loss of almost 800 jobs at its Yabulu nickel refinery near Townsville.
During the hearing, Mr Palmer was prompted by lawyers to invoke privilege, doing so at least 84 times, to protect himself from self-incrimination.
Lawyers for general purpose liquidators – FTI Consulting – also asked Mr Palmer about the structure of his corporate empire, his employees, financial statements and bank accounts, before the hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.
“We can try tomorrow all day, I’ll be fresher then, I’ll be more helpful,” Mr Palmer said.
When Mr Palmer arrived at court, a minder who refused to give his name read out a statement on his behalf, saying he was being compelled to give evidence despite his condition as payback for initiating a Senate inquiry into the Newman government while he was an MP.
“Surgery and intensive care, pain and duress, and currently on morphine, all confirmed by the court, regardless I’m dragged into the court today,” he said.
“This would only happen in Nazi Germany.
“It makes me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game.”
Mr Palmer vocalised his annoyance again as he left the court.
“I don’t think it’s a good policy for people on narcotics to give evidence,” he said.