Albany

Palmer’s man in fight for farm

ON THE eve of Clive Palmer’s visit to the O’Connor electorate, his United Australia Party candidate here is facing the prospect of losing his Kojonup sheep farm to a bank.

The Voice of the South has learned that Mr Palmer will touch down in Western Australia tomorrow to launch the campaign of O’Connor aspirant Anthony Fels.

Clive Palmer visits Kalgoorlie WA for 2019 election campaign

It can also be revealed that political journeyman Mr Fels has lost and will appeal a Supreme Court battle with Rural Bank Ltd, which has demanded he repay a $300,000 loan on his Kojonup farm forthwith.

In a recent written ruling, Supreme Court Master Craig Sanderson noted Mr Fels had paid interest on the loan, but had not paid the loan itself.

“The plaintiff wants the loan repaid,” Master Sanderson continued.

“It cannot be that the plaintiff agreed to roll over the loan in perpetuity.

“In my view, it is clear there is no defence to this action.”

This week, Mr Fels, a former Liberal then Family First Party MLC for the Agricultural Region, said he would appeal the verdict.

“They’re charging their [legal] costs at full price, so that’s been added on to the loan,” he said.

“The judgment’s about $436,000.

“My argument was that they promised me as long as [I] service[d] the debt on time … they would just roll it over after five years.”

He took the disputed loan out in 2008, with Master Sanderson noting it was for a fixed term, repayable on or before October 31, 2013.

Mr Fels, a former independent, Katter’s Australian Party and Mutual Party candidate respectively at the Senate elections of 2010, 2013 and 2014, is representing himself in the civil dispute.

He said there was no chance the dispute would make him bankrupt and thus ineligible for Federal office, as his farm, Brookfield, was worth more than $3 million.

EXCLUSIVE: CLIVE PALMER IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA TOMORROW, FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2019

Then, Mr Fels exclusively told The Voice of the South that Mr Palmer would fly in to Western Australia tomorrow.

“He’s going to launch my campaign in Kalgoorlie on Friday,” he confided.

“He’s touching down in Kalgoorlie about 1pm, and having lunch at the Exchange Hotel, then at 2.30pm we’re going to launch the O’Connor campaign and talk about a few issues in the Division.

“He’s very similar to what you see on TV, when he’s serious, I mean he mucks about a bit sometimes but when you get him on a serious issue, he’s very professional.”

Back to the court case, Mr Fels said he was “not ashamed of any of that sort of thing”.

“It’s been very difficult, but I’ve never tried to dodge paying the money back,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ll win my appeal and go back to the bank and they’ll give me a credit for the legal fees they’ve added on to my loan, plus the three per cent interest penalty.

“It’s cost me $25,000 a year extra in interest.”

Mr Fels said that if he did not win the appeal the bank could take his farm, which he bought in 2006.

He said that losing the farm would hit him hard, emotionally.

“I grew up on a farm in Esperance, and I’ve always been farming,” he said.

“You get very attached to it because you put a lot of work into it.

“You live there, work there and you’re continually improving it for the future and you don’t want the rug pulled from underneath you.”

Mr Fels said that, if elected, he would push for a 20 per cent zone tax deduction for workers living in areas 200kms from a capital city.

“I’ve been door-knocking in Denmark and Walpole where you’d have a 20 per cent lower tax rate,” he said.

“It would be very good for lots of small businesses in a place like Denmark, particularly those that are struggling.

“I’ve spoken to a number of business people there who are very happy with that.”

He said the move would attract more professional service providers, such as doctors, to move to the regions.

He said he would also look into raising the aged pension for married or de facto couples who when retired do not receive double the pension of a single person.

“What I would like to see is that the pension for a married couple is double the single pension, and not just, say 60 per cent more,” he said.

Care to comment?