Mining magnate Clive Palmer has announced he would ban full body scanners at international airports if he was elected prime minister, following a run-in with security at the Brisbane Airport.
The United Australia Party leader made the pledge after he was “unnecessarily targeted” by security personnel at the international terminal on Thursday.
He said he and his staff had already cleared security and were waiting to depart on his private jet, but had to change to a commercial flight because of a scheduling change.
In a statement, issued after reports he became aggressive after being asked to submit to a second security screening, Mr Palmer slammed the “highly invasive” technology.
He also said it was the Brisbane Airport staff who had behaved badly.
“My staff went first and passed through without incident however when they saw me they decided to give me the full treatment and subject me to a full body scan,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“I found the staff aggressive and rude. I eventually refused to be scanned and left the airport.”
Travellers who said they witnessed the exchange told News Limited Mr Palmer “absolutely went right off” after the request was made.
“He was abusing people,” a witness said.
Mr Palmer said he was opposed to security screenings on political and personal grounds.
“I am very much opposed to this process as the technology is highly invasive, is unproven and has even been linked to risks with cancer,” he said.
“It has been well documented that my first wife died of cancer and I have also visited Chernobyl and seen the devastating effects of radiation.”
In a 2012 edition of ABC documentary series Australian Story, Mr Palmer revealed his first wife Sue contracted cancer in her liver after visiting the nuclear site.
“I think that goes back to a time when we were in Russia and we went and saw Gorbachev and it was just after we were there during the Chernobyl situation,
so we were only 1000 kilometres from Chernobyl, so many people have died in Europe from that experience and I think that might have affected her at the time,” he said.
“We were in Russia just after the Chernobyl situation, yeah. So that’s a sad thing to think, but I think that’s what may have happened.”
The incident occurred on the same day reports about a federal government push to revoke his company’s right to operate a major mining port in Western Australia surfaced in News Limited press.
Mr Palmer’s apparently short fuse has made headlines before.
Last year Queensland deputy premier Jeff Seeney accused the former Liberal Party member of having a “temper tantrum” during a public stoush.
The argument lead to the billionaire’s eventual departure from the party.
A spokeswoman for Brisbane Airport could confirm there was a security matter at the international terminal on Thursday night but no complaint had been received at this stage.
She said security personnel followed federal procedures and the full body scan selection was random and continuous.
Australian scanners used radio frequency energy not radiation, she said.