By MARIA DUNNE,
Tim Tams were the unexpected topic of choice for Clive Palmer this week, adding to his ever-growing portfolio of bizarre Twitter and Facebook posts.
Since the 2016 federal election, peculiar posts from the billionaire businessman and ex-politician have been filling the social media timelines of tens of thousands of Australians.
His unusual, yet undeniably entertaining, online presence is one of political commentary, meme generation and hilarious hashtags.
But we’ll get to this shortly. Let’s begin with a refresher on the man himself.
Who is Clive Palmer?
Mr Palmer is the Queensland mining billionaire who founded the Palmer United Party following stints as the National Party’s campaign director in the 1983 state election, and the party’s media spokesman during the 1986 and 1992 elections.
But Mr Palmer turned his back on the National Party in 2012 following leadership disputes.
He went on to establish his very own party in 2013 – the Palmer United Party (PUP) – and gained more than 5 per cent of the national vote in the same year. With two Senate seats, his party had minor influence in Parliament.
PUP was looking strong until policy disputes and controversy within Mr Palmer's electorate caused its downfall, the party did not run in the 2016 federal election.
Mr Palmer’s weird and wonderful posts
His presence on social media started in June 2014. His posts were lengthy, often including attachments to Google Docs and transcripts of messages and videos from Parliament, indifferent to the norms that apply to any standard politician’s pages.
His early posts received little engagement, triggering about 100 likes each. No surprises there.
But Mr Palmer began to shift his use of social media after the 2016 election, crafting strange, entertaining tweets, memes and even poems for his followers.
His pages have become a staple among young voters.
His Facebook page has more than 100,000 likes, his Twitter following more than 70,000, and his meme-based posts generate thousands of shares.
He has spoken fondly of his presence on these platforms, boasting of his reach of 2.7 million.
The post that gained the most traction was a video of Mr Palmer in the back of his car wishing Tony Abbot a farewell after the 2015 Liberal leadership spill.
Here is a taste of what may pop up in your timeline if you hit Mr Palmer’s follow button.
Also notable among his posts are his cryptic poems. Palmer’s love of poetry has been evident since the 1980s when he published the poetry book Dreams, Hopes and Reflections.
Why does he do it?
Senior lecturer of media politics, public policy and Australian politics at Sydney University Peter Chen said Mr Palmer’s absurd posts showed two sides of the ex-politician.
“His recent Twitter poems reflect, to some extent, his tendency towards playfulness in his public persona,” Dr Chen said.
“Mr Palmer has also been a very active media personality, and I think this is a part of his personality, in addition to any strategic and tactical use to which it may be put,” he said.
And the tactical use may be this: his bizarre posts may be taking the public’s mind off the demise of Queensland Nickel.
The collapse of Mr Palmer’s Queensland Nickel has left about 800 workers jobless and the company owing about $300 million to the Townsville economy.
“It may be a strategy to distract from the current issues surrounding QN,” Dr Chen said.
His memes are also attracting a huge audience of young voters who may not remember the scandals which tarnished the ex-politician’s reputation in the first place.
However, Dr Chen is sceptical that this will work.
“It’s unlikely to achieve that – there’s too much at stake and once journalists send blood, they’re unlikely to be put off the trail.”
Whether this page is a distraction, a ploy to pull young voters, or just a man loving his memes, at the very least we can all agree it’s pretty damn funny.