West Australian Premier Mark McGowan will head into mediation with billionaire Clive Palmer. Picture: Tony McDonough / NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan and billionaire Clive Palmer have been ordered by a judge to try to settle their defamation fight outside court.
As part of Federal Court procedure, Justice Richard White this week referred the legal action to mediation, which must happen before September 30.
“Both parties are to attend the mediation in person and will participate in it in a bona fide attempt to achieve settlement of the matters in dispute, or so many of them as can be resolved in the mediation,” the judge ordered.
It is not yet known where the mediation will take place.
Clive Palmer has indicated he is keen to proceed with the mediation. Picture: Tertius Pickard / NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia
“The Premier will attend the mediation in good faith and attempt to settle as required by the court,” a spokeswoman said.
Mr McGowan was seemingly reluctant to participate in mediation, which Mr Palmer said he did not understand.
“He should follow Winston Churchill’s words that meeting jaw to jaw is better than war,’’ the Queenslander said in a statement.
“Notwithstanding the dispute is in Federal Court, the Premier should recognise justice and mercy walk hand-in-hand.
“He must remember that all problems are made by humans and they can be solved by humans. Hopefully he can participate in mediation in a positive manner.”
Clive Palmer was the first to launch defamation action in the dispute. Picture: Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia
The mining magnate was the first to launch defamation proceedings, alleging he had been “brought into hatred, ridicule and contempt”, had his reputation damaged and his feelings hurt over comments made by the Premier.
It included a description of Mr Palmer as an “enemy of the state”.
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Mr McGowan then countersued, alleging in his court claim that he was defamed several times in interviews, online posts and advertisements, causing him “hurt and embarrassment”, as well as “loss and damage”.
It included comparing the Premier to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
The matter has been adjourned to a case management hearing on October 1.
The bitter legal stoush has gone on for months, after Mr Palmer unsuccessfully challenged Western Australia’s coronavirus hard border and launched an estimated $30 billion damages claim against the state over the stalled Balmoral South iron ore project.