The rise of Clive Palmer and his cashed-up campaign for a WA Senate spot risk "corporatising" the entire political system, Tony Abbott has warned.
Mr Palmer has carpet-bombed WA voters with an advertising campaign dwarfing anything on offer from the major parties.
Mr Abbott said while the coalition was running against the ALP and not Mr Palmer, it was a concern just how the Queensland mining magnate was trying to change the political system.
"There is a real danger of the corporatisation of politics, the commercialisation of the democratic process," the Prime Minister told _The West Australian _. "I think there is a real danger here."
One of Mr Palmer's new advertisements - which Mr Abbott said was unethical - may have landed him in trouble with the national broadcaster.
The ad, which uses ABC footage, is a so-called mash-up, compiling snippets of dialogue from politicians put together saying Mr Palmer offers strong leadership, has a track record in business and can tell the truth.
While the Australian Electoral Commission cleared the Palmer United Party's TV commercial of breaching electoral advertising laws, the ad has upset TV networks by using footage from TV interviews, news conferences and last year's leaders' debate.
The ad was originally used for the September general election but is airing in the run-up to Saturday's Senate poll.
An ABC spokesman said the broadcaster would not grant access to its content for political advertising. "Accordingly, the ABC will raise this matter with the Palmer United Party in due course, as it has done recently with unauthorised use of content by other political parties and advocacy organisations," he said.
It is also understood the Seven Network is looking at the issue because Mr Palmer uses a grab of former PM Kevin Rudd on breakfast program Sunrise. Its policy is not to allow the use of its footage in election advertisements.
An AEC spokesman said the High Court in the past had found the commission could not regulate the content of political ads aimed at influencing voters' judgment and choice of candidates.
"After examining the contents of the video clip, the AEC has been unable to identify anything that could reasonably be regarded as being in breach of the requirements of the Electoral Act," he said.
Australian National University intellectual property expert Dr Matthew Rimmer said the ad would probably not fall foul of copyright laws by using TV networks' footage because it fell into the category of parody and satire, which was allowed.