How Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party could influence the May 21 election

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Clive Palmer is an Australian mining magnet who is no less ambitious. He once promised to clone a dinosaur from DNA to build a real-life “Jurassic Park” and promised to rebuild the Titanic from scratch. (He settled on robotic dinosaurs for his Palmersaurus theme park, which later flop. And even a decade after he announced it, his sea liner breeding has not yet turned into water.)

In 2013, Palmer made his first major campaign in national politics – with a short term to balance power in the Australian Senate. He spent millions on campaigning before the 2019 federal election, but his party did not win a single seat. His brilliant political style and populist rhetoric have been compared to those of former US President Donald Trump – and now he’s back, promising to “make Australia great again”.

While Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) is unlikely to win even one seat in Saturday’s federal election, he is spending a lot in some close races. A popular UAP campaign video has been viewed nearly 25 million times on YouTube, just under 26 million in one country.

Its biggest impact could be as an electoral spoiler: Palmer recommends that voters place the ruling center-right Liberal-National Coalition in several key races over center-left Labor opposition, a move that raises the possibility of Prime Minister Scott Morrison returning to power. .

The 68-year-old Palmer became a billionaire through his interest in iron ore, coal and nickel mining. In March, the Australian newspaper raised its assets to about $ 13 billion to increase mining royalties, although Forbes valued its empire at 2 billion.

The Queensland-based tycoon is no stranger to controversy. He took the state of Western Australia to court over border closures during the epidemic. (He lost.) Palmer has also spoken out against the coronavirus vaccine, and has not been vaccinated. (The country uses internationally approved vaccines, including those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca.)

Glenn Kefford, a political scientist at the University of Queensland, says Palmer has become increasingly popular in recent years, with pro-Brexit lawmakers in Britain and Republicans in the United States, including Trump.

At times, though, his ideology is hard to pin down: in 2013 Palmer ran on a platform to fly among more refugees, just as Coalition and Labor groups pressured asylum seekers and refugees arriving by sea.

“He is a mystery in many ways. The steps he takes do not always seem to be considered or strategic. Sometimes they seem reactive and spontaneous and emotional, “Keeford said.

What is the platform of Palmer’s United Australia party?

Populist messaging is a key part of UAP’s strategy. Prior to the outbreak, party members had joined anti-lockdown movements across the country and protested against government-imposed vaccine mandates and passports.

In April, Palmer said only the UAP could “save Australia from the economic catastrophe imposed by the Liberal and Labor governments” – citing the coronavirus epidemic and the deficit accumulated by the administration in power during the 2008 financial crisis, respectively.

Recently on the streets of Sydney Airport, a huge billboard in the party signature bright yellow announced: “Save your home. The maximum home loan rate is 3% pa. Vote for the United Australia Party. UAP is promising to limit the interest rate on home loans to 3 percent for the next five years; In reality, benchmark rates are set by the country’s independent Reserve Bank, which recently raised interest rates in the middle of the election campaign.

On Monday, UAP leader Craig Kelly defended Campaign posters He told Sky News Australia that he could be the next prime minister: “We are fighting; It’s not a two-horse race. “(Some analysts Don’t even expect him To win your seat.)

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What is Clive Palmer’s opinion about women?

Palmer created a diverse mix of candidates in 2013 – including many female candidates. He says Canberra needs to be more gender inclusive and that “Australia deserves to benefit from the wise advice of all its people, not just anything.”

But Jill Shepard, a political scientist at the Australian National University, says Palmer does not have a feminist agenda. “To many Australian voters, Clive Palmer is an archaeologist. He is very masculine, ”he said.

His approach to politics is largely transactional, says Keeford of the University of Queensland, who has interviewed many former UAP candidates for a research project.

Prime Minister Morrison’s allegations of sexual harassment and abuse were in the spotlight during the campaign.

How could Palmer and UAP affect the Australian election?

Palmer’s party is fielding candidates in each of the upper and lower chambers. And while his candidates are not expected to win, Palmer has acted as a spoiler, attacking the policies of the major parties and portraying UAP as the only viable option.

“The whole political class has turned against the people. We know we can never trust liberals, labor, greens or nationals, “Palmer said in December.

In 2019, Palmer helped spread baseless claims on social media that the Labor Party planned to introduce a “death tax” or estate tax if elected. Misinformation damaged the opposition’s position with the electorate and was a factor as it ultimately lost an election that was widely expected to win.

Nevertheless, some experts hope that Palmer’s influence will be limited to a strong democracy where voters usually do not move too far away from the political center.

“Money doesn’t take you too far in Australian politics,” said Shepard of the Australian National University.

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