Clive Palmer’s political ambitions in Queensland have been dealt a major blow after a bitter falling out with state leader Alex Douglas.
Dr Douglas announced plans to quit the Palmer United Party (PUP) on Monday, citing concerns with the party’s pre-selection process.
Soon after, former Liberal Party Queensland vice-president and adviser to Mr Palmer Jim MacAnally was announced as PUP’s candidate in the Gold Coast seat of Burleigh.
Mr MacAnally was caught on tape this year asking a Liberal National Party (LNP) MP what he would have to offer him to join Mr Palmer’s party.
In a statement, Dr Douglas said he did not support “jobs for the boys” and he couldn’t support actions that went against his principles.
“I regret that I have had to take these actions, but I am reliably informed that a list of pre-selected candidates for the Queensland state election will be announced today,” he said.
“I have had no involvement in the pre-selection of candidates.
“From my understanding, this process does not reflect principles which I firmly support.”
Mr Palmer suggested the Member for Gaven quit over ties with the Katter party.
“Well Alex is Bob Katter’s nephew, you know, and he’s had a strong undercurrent pressure from his uncle to join the Katter party for a long time,” the mining billionaire and federal MP told ABC radio.
Dr Douglas joined the PUP after resigning from the LNP in November 2012 following disagreements with the premier.
His decision to quit PUP leaves fellow LNP defector Carl Judge as the party’s Queensland leader and only member of parliament.
Mr Judge said he spoke briefly to Dr Douglas before his announcement on Monday but it was up to his former colleague to elaborate on his reasons for quitting.
“I respect Dr Douglas. I’m disappointed in the decision that he’s taken, but that’s been done now,” Mr Judge told AAP.
“It’s a challenge that we’ll overcome and we’ll concentrate on the task at hand.”
The Member for Yeerongpilly confirmed he would contest Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie’s Sunshine Coast seat of Kawana at next year’s election.
He said Mr Bleijie, along with the premier, had let down Queenslanders.
Dr Douglas is expected to address reporters at his electorate office on Tuesday morning.
Dr Douglas’s resignation coincides with a slide in popularity at the polls for the PUP in the state.
A ReachTel poll of Queensland voters last week found 12.6 per cent said they would vote for PUP, compared with 15.4 per cent in a similar poll a month ago.