Australian senator fumbles through rare interview

DEREK ROSE
Last updated 16:25 09/06/2014
The Melbourne Age

Clive Palmer defends the performance of Ricky Muir after the Motoring Enthusiasts Party senator repeatedly hesitates and is unable to answer several questions in an interview on Channel 7's Sunday Night.

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He's been the invisible man of Australian politics ever since a YouTube video of his backyard kangaroo poo fight made headlines back in September.

Now maybe incoming Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir may wish he had stayed in hiding.

The novice politican sat down recently with Channel Seven's Mike Willesee for his first formal broadcast interview, but the segment that aired last night was rather less than flattering. Muir, who when he starts in July will hold a key vote as part of a bloc with the three Palmer United Party senators, seemed flustered by even innocous questions.

When asked by reporter Mike Willesee to define the balance of power, Muir paused and replied: "It's the potential ... if ... say in this case, Labor and Greens ... it's the power to vote down legislation in the right circumstances."

The timber mill worker struggled with a number of questions, including one where he was asked to explain the ''after-market'' automobile industry.

When asked why he was so concerned about who manufactures cars, Muir replied: "There's the after-market industry which can be supported ... people that are losing their jobs ... sorry  ... can we start that question again?''

A second attempt to answer the question wasn't much better.

"There's the after-market industry ... which ... um ... sorry, can we go to another question? I've got myself into a fluster.''

Willesee pressed on, asking Muir to explain the after-market industry.

"The after-market industry is the industry that is ... can I go out for a minute?" Muir said.

In one of his few coherent responses, he told Willesee he was ''bringing in the voice of the everyday Australian" to the political arena.

Clive Palmer, leader of the Palmer United Party, leapt to Muir's defence on Monday and lashed out at Willesee, calling him "a gutless wonder" and accusing Channel 7 of limiting the material it showed to portray Muir in a bad light.

"Most Australians have great sympathy for Ricky," Palmer said.

"They know like we do that he's a man of strong character, he's a family man, he hasn't been on national TV."

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