‘Fake news’: Clive Palmer denies buying Adolf Hitler’s Mercedes
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Clive Palmer has denied buying Adolf Hitler’s Mercedes-Benz after the controversial billionaire was roundly criticised following media reports of the alleged purchase.
The Courier Mail reported on Saturday the senate hopeful and leader of the United Australia Party had purchased the Nazi Leader’s 1939 770 Grosser Offener Tourenwagen from an unnamed Russian billionaire.
Mr Palmer was reported to have bought the Nazi leader’s bulletproof “Super Mercedes” as part of his plans to build a rare car museum, which drew condemnation from both sides of politics.
The mining magnate responded to the controversy on social media on Thursday.
“I did not buy Hitler’s car. Its (sic) more Fake News,” he tweeted.
The one-term Fairfax MP, who is eyeing a return to politics at the upcoming federal election, was taken to hospital last week after displaying “Covid-like” symptoms.
Mr Palmer was warned he could face the full force of the law if his alleged attempt to import the car breached Australian customs and sanctions rules, after coalition and Labor MPs responded to the report.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews called on Mr Palmer to explain his actions, saying he would have to fully comply with Australian sanctions, import and customs laws if the allegations were true.
“If an individual contravenes our sanctions regime there will be serious consequences under Australian law. The bottom line is: no one gets a special deal and the rules apply to all,” she said.
Ms Andrews said she could understand why people might find Mr Palmer’s alleged purchase offensive.
“The government absolutely condemns any glorification of Nazi history and neo-Nazi extremist activity in Australia,” she said.
After the end of World War II, the Mercedes was seized in France by the US military before it was purchased by an American billionaire. It has changed hands multiple times in the subsequent decades.
West Australian Labor MP Patrick Gorman wrote to Ms Andrews on Monday, asking that the federal government urgently investigate Mr Palmer’s alleged purchase, including whether it breached sanctions by involving a Russian billionaire.
“Many of my constituents are concerned with this purchase and the message it sends. I believe that it is inappropriate for Mr Palmer to personally own such an item,” he wrote.
“I seek an assurance from you as minister that Mr Palmer has not breached Australia’s customs and sanctions requirements.”
While it isn’t illegal to import a historic vehicle into Australia for a personal collection, classic cars regularly arrive at the border with parts containing asbestos – a toxic material that is banned from entering the country.
It is the responsibility of importers and exporters to ensure they do not import or export prohibited goods such as asbestos, a Tier 1 good under the Customs Regulation 2015.
Offences relating to asbestos importation by individuals can attract fines of up to $180,000 or three times the value of the goods, whichever is the greater.
Mr Palmer has been contacted for comment.