Former Palmer United Senators Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie are facing legal action for breaking promises to voters and the party, national director Peter Burke announced today.
“What we have witnessed with Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie is misleading and deceptive,’’ Mr Burke said.
“It is our view that Ms Lambie and Mr Lazarus have betrayed all those who voted for the Palmer United Party and the party’s members who worked so hard to get their representative elected in Tasmania and Queensland,’’ he said.
Mr Burke was commenting on recent developments which have seen former Palmer United Party Senators Lazarus and Lambie defect the party to become independents with the latter this week announcing the formation of her own political party.
“Australians are tired of politicians saying one thing before an election and then breaking their promises afterwards.
Mr Lazarus and Ms Lambie have badly let down the party and all the voters in their respective states who trusted them to do what they said they would do.
“The Palmer United Party relied on Glenn Lazarus’ and Jacqui Lambie’s promise when they sought endorsement to represent the party at the 2013 Senate election, that if elected they would represent Palmer United in the Senate for their six-year term.
“Relying on those promises, the party spent millions of dollars and thousands of party supporters worked hard to get Mr Lazarus and Ms Lambie elected.
“They have now broken their promises and the party will seek to recover in the courts, under the principle of promissory estoppel, those party funds,’’ he said.
“Both have shown themselves to be opportunists seeking to use the party resources for themselves deceptively. They have acted unreliably and have proven to be untrustworthy.”
Mr Burke said the executive committee of the party had already allocated $3 million to cover legal costs.
“It is anticipated the party’s claim against Mr Lazarus will be in the order of $7 million, equivalent to the amount the party spent in Queensland, and more than $2 million for what was spent getting Ms Lambie elected in Tasmania.”
The return lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission shows the party spent over $26 million across Australia at the last election.
“We believe that Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie must pay to the party the money it spent in reliance of a promise that they both broke.
“Party legal advice confirms the strength of the party position under law,’’ he said.
“We have also consulted extensively with our members over these matters, who feel very disillusioned.”
In Queensland, the Palmer United Party received more than 250,000 votes above the line at the last Federal Senate election and only 6770 votes went below the line to Glenn Lazarus. In Tasmania the figures were 20,293 votes above the line to Palmer United and just 1501 below the line to Jacqui Lambie.
“Clearly, in both states, voters put the Palmer United Party before the individual candidates and we do not believe either of them held their seats on their own merits,’’ Mr Burke said.