A former Palmer United Party candidate has accused Palmer of seeking a PUP seat in the Latrobe Valley to gain political leverage for his mining interests.
Former Chisholm electorate candidate Brian Woods resigned from the party two weeks ago, citing reasons of “rampant” campaign disorganisation and Palmer’s “dictatorship” style of leadership.
Wood said he was invited to stand for the Gippsland electorate in 2013 despite living in the northern Melbourne suburb of Glenroy.
“Headquarters were keen to run me from the city to stand in the Latrobe Valley, saying it’s their most sought after seat. I declined not only over the distance, but also (due to) my alarm bells of mining interests,” Woods said.
Woods said he did not want to be seen as Mr Palmer's “mining pawn”, and that the mining magnate sought to gain leverage from a foothold in the Latrobe Valley.
“Mr Palmer's interest in the Valley is all about gaining potential leverage to do what he wants in Australia's mining regions, he is just making up anything he says.”
In an interview with the Latrobe Valley Express Palmer said the Latrobe Valley had been abandoned by the major political parties.
“I would say to those who live in the Latrobe Valley and care about their region… you are being taken for granted, both parties have abandoned the Valley and voting for them is a waste of time… at least our party is alive to the issues you face,” Palmer said.
Woods said the PUP leader “had no idea what he was talking about” and that the Victorian party membership was rapidly declining due to poor communication between headquarters and local members.
“He’s jacked off a lot of people purely for the reason members and candidates have never had any say in anything,” Woods told The Express.
“A candidate needs a nuanced understanding of the Valley's needs and not the things that just suits him; you can't just rely on the mining angle and dish out whatever policy you think sounds good to buy votes.”