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Australian Miner Palmer Faces Recount in Lower-House Contest

Mining magnate Clive Palmer’s bid to win a seat in Australia’s lower house remains on hold with a recount ordered for the division of Fairfax, which he contested in the Sept. 7 election.

With counting completed, Palmer polled 42,367 votes while Ted O’Brien of the Liberal National Party of Queensland received 42,331 votes, the Australian Electoral Commission said on its website today. Under Australian law, electorates with final margins of less than 100 votes have an automatic recount.

Palmer, 59, who owns a nickel refinery and is planning an $8 billion gas project, said during the campaign that he was seeking to become prime minister of the world’s 12th-largest economy. That prize was claimed by Tony Abbott, who has seen his Liberal-National coalition leading in 90 of the 150 lower-house districts with final standings not yet declared. The Palmer United Party is also poised to win a seat in the Senate.

The owner of Mineralogy Pty Ltd., who made his fortune in real estate and by investing in mining tenements that later proved lucrative, Palmer is building a full-scale replica of the Titanic. His election policies included abolishing the carbon price mechanism and mining profits tax instigated by the outgoing Labor government and creating incentives to encourage more onshore processing of the nation’s resources.

In this month’s election, Palmer fielded candidates in every lower-house district, winning 5.5 percent of first-preference votes. The Greens party, which holds the balance of power in the Senate and was an ally of the former Labor government, secured 8.6 percent.

Dinosaur Park

Along with mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest, Palmer drew criticism last year from then-Treasurer Wayne Swan who said they were threatening the nation’s democratic process by using their wealth to seek to shape policy. Palmer, a former member of the Liberal National Party in Queensland, last year dropped plans to contest Swan’s seat in the federal election.

Palmer has an agreement with Nanjing-based CSC Jinling Shipyard to build a 21st-century replica of the Titanic. The shipbuilder is also making four 64,000 deadweight tonne bulk carriers for Palmer, whose investments have included golf courses, hotels, a soccer team and a horse stud.

He has also announced plans to build the Palmer Coolum Resort: Dinosaur Park, which will feature more than 150 mechanical dinosaurs at his Queensland golf resort. Last year he claimed Greenpeace was being funded by the Central Intelligence Agency to attempt to destroy Australia’s coal-mining industry.

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