Clive Palmer has suggested renegade Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie was deliberately planted in PUP to disrupt it.
He said PUP was currently investigating Lambie, including how she got endorsement and what she put on her endorsement form.
“I think she was sent in by someone to disrupt. That is what tends to happen with new parties,” he told The Conversation tonight. “But we don’t know yet who sent her in.”
In a statement earlier, Palmer questioned whether Lambie received welfare payments while she was on PUP’s full-time payroll before taking up her Senate seat.
As Lambie told reporters that those she’d consulted overwhelmingly said she should leave PUP, Palmer launched a fresh blistering attack questioning her honesty.
Lambie is set to clarify her future this week, with the rift from PUP irreconcilable.
She said today she was still taking advice. But 99% of those she had spoken to in Tasmania had said “get up and leave”.
“I think their reasoning is I could probably get a lot more done independently and have a lot more pull up in Canberra by myself using my vote for that as a single vote, rather than being that of a political party,” she said.
Lambie becoming an independent would mean Palmer, left with only two PUP senators, would not have the power to block legislation, which requires three votes.
While the Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir is in alliance with PUP, Palmer can no longer rely on his support. Last week Lambie and Muir voted to overturn the government’s financial advice regulations, which earlier this year all PUP senators and Muir had supported after Palmer did a deal with the government.
In his statement, Palmer said that in January Lambie supported the establishment of the Australian Defence Veterans Party.
“At the time, which was prior to Senator Lambie taking up a Senate seat, she was a paid, full-time employee of the Palmer United Party as its organiser in Tasmania.
"The question remains, was she receiving disability payments from the Commonwealth for being unable to work while receiving a full-time salary at the same time from the Palmer United Party?”
He said that Lambie had flown at the expense of PUP to Queensland and South Australia to visit veterans groups, and she also met with Pauline Hanson.
Accusing Lambie of lying about him and her colleagues, Palmer said she was a person of “questionable honesty who had previously been charged and convicted by the Australian Army”. She had never declared her convictions before her endorsement for PUP, he said.
He said Lambie chose to employ three Queenslanders on her staff in preference to Tasmanians.
“Rob Messenger [a former Queensland MP] is her chief of staff while his wife also got a job move from Queensland. Senator Lambie’s other adviser is another Messenger crony who still lives in Queensland and draws a Commonwealth salary.
"Rob Messenger was expelled from the Palmer United Party. Senator Lambie and her cohorts have never seen active military service and they just seek to use the veterans to gain political support so Senator Lambie’s mastermind, Messenger, a Queenslander, can stand for a Tasmanian Senate seat.
"Tasmanians and veterans should not be fooled to support such people of little character who have never acted to improve the lot of veterans.”
Palmer tonight accused Lambie of stringing out the issue of her future for the media and to cause as much trouble as possible for PUP.
“If she believes everything she says, why hasn’t she resigned?” The timing, just before the Victorian election in which PUP is running candidates for the upper house, was very convenient, Palmer said.
Asked whether, if Lambie didn’t quickly announce her resignation, she would be expelled, Palmer said he could not speak on the party’s behalf until after meetings of the parliamentary party and national executive.