The controversial billionaire looking to upend Australia's federal election, again

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·News Reporter
·3-min read
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  • Craig Kelly
    Australian politician

Australia's federal election is set to be called by late May 2022, so Yahoo News Australia is analysing all the major players who are likely to affect the national poll. 

A recent News Corp poll of 4,010 voters showing 33 percent of people who voted in the 2019 election are planning to switch parties ahead of next year's election, suggesting election day could bring some surprising results. 

Voters favour Labor to win the next federal election the latest Newspoll shows, but a number of smaller yet powerfully-backed players are beginning to circle the corridors of power.

Clive Palmer speaks to the media during a press conference.
Clive Palmer's United Australia Party has emerged as a threat to the major parties in the lead up to the Federal Election next year. Source: Getty Images.

One of these is the United Australia Party, fronted by former Liberal MP Craig Kelly and backed by controversial mining magnate Clive Palmer.

Claiming to boast a membership of more than 80,000 people, the UAP has declared it is fielding candidates in all 151 lower house seats across the nation at the upcoming election.

The party has established itself as a far-right, libertarian party with its strident opposition to vaccine mandates and Covid restrictions as its defining position.  

Mr Palmer is no stranger to politics. He was the Member of Fairfax on the Sunshine Coast for the Palmer United Party from 2013-2016 before he stood aside and disbanded the party.

Mr Palmer returned to politics in 2018 with a new name for his party, the United Australia Party, reportedly spending more than $80 million on a campaign to win a senate seat in the 2019 election.

While the 2019 campaign was unsuccessful, Mr Palmer claimed credit for helping deliver the election victory to the Morrison government after an advertising blitz targeting Labor leader Bill Shorten. 

This time around, a revamped UAP under Mr Kelly has declared war on both major parties.

Craig Kelly of the United Australia Party speaking to people at Hyde Park.
United Australi Party leader and Liberal Party defector Craig Kelly spearheads a push against the major parties at the next federal election. Source: Getty Images.

Mr Palmer, who says he has retired, is yet to confirm if he will include himself on a senate ticket or house ballot for the upcoming election as he did previously.

The UAP has also confirmed it will direct preferences to the Liberal Democrats on the ballot, encouraging voters to put the major parties of the LNP, Labor and the Greens last in a bid to pick up seats from mainstream defectors.

The UAP has also announced an alliance with Reignite Democracy Australia headed by Monica Smit, who spent 22 days in prison earlier this year after being charged with incitement and breaching public health orders for campaigning against the lockdowns in Melbourne and across Australia.

Protesters are seen past flags during a rally against new pandemic laws and vaccination mandates in Melbourne.
The United Australia Party is appealing for votes from those who are against lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Source: Getty Images.

Whether this alliance will translate to votes come election time remains to be seen, yet the growing profile of UAP alone has put the incumbent powers on notice with Scott Morrison trying to appeal to disaffected voters on the right of the political spectrum.

A string of high-profile independent candidates campaigning in Liberal seats on issues of political integrity and climate change has meant the government is facing challenges from both sides this election Labor tries to reclaim power for the first time since 2013. 

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