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He's back: To no one's surprise, Palmer ready to take his chances in Senate election

Politics

Mining billionaire Clive Palmer has revealed another tilt at politics, announcing he plans to lead his party’s Senate team in the upcoming Federal election.

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And his United Australia Party will field Senate candidates in every state and territory.

“The reason I’ve come back into politics and taken a key role at this important time is because of the state of the nation,” he said in Brisbane on Wednesday, pointing to the level of national debt.

“I’d like to be on my boat but I’m not, I’m in this situation.”

Associate Professor Paul Williams from Griffith University’s Centre for Social and Cultural Research, says Palmer’s latest bid for election is not surprising.

“Clive still is the salesman of his own party and he has the highest profile of his party so it’s not surprising.

“Will he get up? That’s a tricky question,” Williams says.

He says it’s becoming a crowded field in the Senate with a number of populist fringe parties vying for spots.

There is also a sentiment that when things are tough the electorate is less keen to “play with the kids in the room”.

And Williams says the fact that One Nation’s Pauline Hanson is up for re-election this year means she would garner more of the radical right vote, perhaps 10 per cent, compared to Palmer’s party at about five per cent.

Palmer, a one-time lower house MP. last tasted victory in 2013 when he won the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax.

The anti vaccine-mandate advocate says his party has attracted more than 80,000 members, who will be backed by a campaign with significant resources.

“I don’t budget, we just respond to the political circumstance,” he said.

The party has just one seat in the federal parliament – the electorate of Hughes held by Craig Kelly, who was elected as a Liberal candidate until he resigned to sit as an independent before joining the UAP.

But Mr Palmer continues to spruik the party’s chances in the election to be held sometime before the end of May, and says candidates will also be fielded in every lower house seat.

“We can win seats in Western Sydney, Western Melbourne. There are seats in Queensland that we can win,” he said.

The party’s Senate team also includes former Deloitte Australia CEO Domenic Martino in NSW and property executive Ralph Babet in Victoria.

The announcement follows controversy sparked by Mr Kelly, who caught the attention of the Therapeutic Goods Administration after spamming people with unsolicited text messages last year.

The messages included a link to a website showing listings of “adverse event notifications” from Covid-19 vaccines, which TGA’s John Skerritt labelled a misuse of data.

Williams says while the Coalition could still turn around its fortunes at the election, the window for that is now closing rapidly.

“I suspect there might be appetite for change. There is real anger now,” Williams says of the ongoing pandemic issues related to a shortage of rapid antigen tests and empty supermarket shelves.

“You take peoples sausages away for an Australia Day BBQ you have got a problem on your hands,” he says.

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