Clive Palmer has no right to claim the UAP’s name
THE hypocritical chutzpah of our political party system is nothing short of breathtaking.
We have a Liberal National Party government, the Liberal part of which demonstrates gross illiberality in its administration of security, immigration and social matters.
On the other side of the parliament we have the Labor Party in which it is sometimes difficult to detect even an imprint of the horny hand of honest toil or to discern the glimmer of the light of the hill.
Scattered about the parliament is a mixed bag of minor and mini parties with equally tenuous holds on the literal meaning of their names.
We have the Greens (pinks, to their many enemies), the Liberal Democrats (an exceedingly democratic bloc of one), the Australian Conservatives (reactionary, in the singular), the Centre Alliance (the not-quite-so-central croweaters once known as the Nick Xenophon Team) and the Country Liberal Party (a lonesome warrior from the Northern Territory).
And then we have the vanity parties: Katter's Australia Party (actually the Queensland fringe festival), Derryn Hinch's Justice Party (one headline with not a lot to say) and Pauline Hanson's One Nation (two people in search of a split).
While other parties might survive the demise of leaders, the vanity parties would disappear in a flash without their titular heads.
But now we have another contender for nomenclatural nonsense: the United Australia Party under which the oddball Clive Palmer would like to reclaim his political voice.
This, of course, has nothing to do with Pauline's United Australia Party, which was registered in 2007 and voluntarily deregistered in 2010 during one of Pauline Hanson's political meltdowns
Palmer, was unable to register UAP in 2013 because of a possible conflict with a "similarly named party", so launched the Palmer United Party (PUP) and what a dog it turned out to be.
Palmer, who announced his UAP ambitions in June but was delayed by technicalities to do with the Super Saturday by-election, has jumped one of the Australia Electoral Commission's hurdles by signing on sitting senator Brian Burston.
If nothing else, this saves Palmer the job of rounding up 500 members to make his party ridgy-didge, which might be difficult given the lack of love last time around.
Burston now floats around the senate, a lonely castaway on a liferaft flying the UAP flag allegedly receiving abusive and obscene text messages from James Ashby, Hanson's incumbent office boy.
On June 21, Burston was listed in the Senate Hansard as an independent. Come the following Monday he was listed as belonging to the UAP.
Oddly, this is despite the fact that the AEC is yet to approve the registration of the party name.
People have until September 30 to object to the registration of the name and I know at least one lawyerly type who is threatening to do just that.
I, too, have a serious historical problem with Palmer claiming the UAP name.
The original UAP was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945, which might not sound long but it did win four elections and provide us with two prime ministers at a time when the country was going through an exceedingly rough trot.
It was created after the 1931 split in the Labor Party during the Great Depression when Joe Lyons led the defectors into a merger with the Nationalist Party.
The party had a landslide victory in 1931 and a more modest win in coalition with the Country Party in 1934 and again in 1937, after which Lyons died and was replaced by Robert Menzies, a man about whom we would hear much more.
Menzies scraped home to form a coalition government in 1940 but by 1941 was unloved by his own party and resigned in 1941 leaving the Country Party's Artie Fadden to be prime minister for 40 days.
Fadden's government was defeated in the House leaving John Curtin to form an ALP government. The rest is modern history.
The UAP laboured on in opposition under former prime minister Billy Hughes but it died with the birth of the new Liberal Party.
Believe it or not I'm not old enough to remember the UAP but I did work with one of Lyons' sons, which wasn't all that remarkable given that he and his wife Enid (later Dame Enid) had 12 children).
However, the record shows it was a party of substance that served our country for 14 years during depression and war, and it was the creation of men of substance and principle.
It should be remembered as such, respected for what it was, and preserved for our history.
Such an honourable name should not be usurped by the likes of Palmer.
Terry Sweetman is a columnist for The Courier-Mail.