SYDNEY, Aug 28 — The Australian billionaire building a new version of the ill-fated liner the Titanic said yesterday there had been a huge global response to the project because it was about love and courage.
Clive Palmer, who is standing in next month’s Australian election after founding his own political party this year, said the vessel — which will resemble the original as closely as possible — was never designed to make money.
“It was meant to just be a recreational thing that we’re doing for the benefit of the world but it’s going to be very profitable,” the 59-year-old, who has made his money from real estate, mining and tourism, told AFP in an interview.
“But that’s not my fault. I remain a member of one of the smallest minorities of this country — of billionaires — that people look at them and think that they can’t think, that they are buffoons and that they are foolish, that they can’t do anything.
“I’m sick of people telling me what I can’t do. So far I haven’t found anything I can’t do.”
Palmer’s Titanic II will feature modern modifications but try to remain as true as possible to the original, which went down after hitting an iceberg in 1912. He said construction would begin next March in China.
Palmer said tens of thousands of people had registered for the maiden voyage, which is set for 2016.
He denied that his political ambitions at the September 7 polls — in which his Palmer United Party is fielding more than 150 candidates — would meet the same fate as the supposedly unsinkable liner.
“You look at the past and I’ll look at the future,” he said, adding that the romance of the project and the courage of those aboard the Titanic could not be denied.
“We’ve all been in love, I’ve been in love, I’m in love at the moment,” he said.
“And if you’re not in love you long to be in love. What’s wrong with love? It’s very, very easy to make war — we have armies, we have navies, we have air forces — but it’s a lot harder to make peace.
“And by taking Titanic II, by recreating that... we’ve built it with a concept of love that we all want. And that’s what’s common to man — in China, in Europe and the United States. And that’s why it has got such universal appeal.
“The Titanic is an international project linking continents together and the demand has shown it’s important.”
The original Titanic, which was built in Belfast, sank on its first trip from Southampton in England to New York, killing more than 1,500 passengers and crew. — AFP/Relaxnews