Billionaire Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party wins no seats despite costly election campaign

Billionaire Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party failed to win any seats in the House of Representatives despite an almost $100 million six-month election campaign. 

The mining magnate’s advertising blitz proved fruitless on Saturday as his party fizzled with a national primary vote of just 4.3% and Liberal-defector-turned-UAP -leader Craig Kelly was ousted from his seat of Hughes. 

However the party is likely to have one or two senators elected, with Ralph Babet leading in the count for Victoria’s sixth and final Senate position, and Michael Arbon in contention in a tight race for the last Senate position from South Australia. 

Palmer ran UAP candidates in all lower house seats this year and had touted Mr Kelly as the future prime minister of Australia during his party’s campaign.

The disastrous results are a far cry from predictions, with experts fearing Palmer’s exorbitant advertising spend would threaten democracy by giving him a massive upper hand to beat both major parties. 

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party has suffered a crushing defeat, picking up no seats in the House of Representatives  

In another blow, the UAP’s star candidate, Mr Kelly, suffered a landslide defeat from Liberal Jenny Ware, who took 43.4 per cent of the primary vote compared to just 7.6 per cent for Mr Kelly. 

The trend was also displayed across other small parties on the right, including Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Great Australian Party, and the Informed Medical Options Party. 

Mr Kelly had held the seat of Hughes as a Liberal since 2010 before quitting in February 2021 after clashing with the LNP over its response to the Covid pandemic.

He carved a controversial figure throughout that time, causing outrage among MPs after voicing Covid-19 claims and vaccine information that contradicted that of the government and medical authorities. 

The mining magnate's campaign cost almost $100million and centred on the tenets of the 'freedom' movement

The mining magnate’s campaign cost almost $100million and centred on the tenets of the ‘freedom’ movement 

His endorsement of unauthorised drugs to treat Covid – including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine – further angered his Commonwealth colleagues, leading to confrontation with Labor MP Tanya Plibersek.

‘We’re spending $24 million on a campaign to tell people to get vaccinated and we’ve got a taxpayer-funded nong running around telling people not to,’ Ms Plibersek said at the time.

After quitting, Mr Kelly became an independent MP before taking the position of UAP leader in August 2021. 

Mr Palmer’s campaign – which featured prolific billboard advertising – had a central focus on opposition of Covid vaccine mandates and lockdowns.  

 Ms Hanson, whose party’s support dropped from its 2019 strongholds in the divisions of Hunter and Hinkler, finds her Senate spot under threat.

The Liberal/National Coalition has taken two of the six Senate positions in Queensland, and Labor has secured one and likely two, while the Greens also seem certain to take one.

That leaves Ms Hanson narrowly ahead in counting for the sixth and final Queensland spot, pursued by Legalise Cannabis candidate Bernard Bradley. 

Her party polled 7.8 per cent of the Senate vote in Queensland compared to the Greens’ 14 per cent.

Craig Kelly (pictured) was ousted from his seat of Hughes, which he had held for more than a decade as a member of the Liberal Party

Craig Kelly (pictured) was ousted from his seat of Hughes, which he had held for more than a decade as a member of the Liberal Party

The outspoken Queenslander has run an anti-vaccine mandate campaign, and refused a coronavirus jab herself.

She was first elected to the Senate for Queensland in 2016.

In the Sunshine State, Nationals senator Matt Canavan was re-elected, as was his Victorian colleague Bridget McKenzie.

High-profile Liberal senator Simon Birmingham was also returned.

On the incoming Labor government’s side Penny Wong, soon to be foreign minister, was re-elected for South Australia.

Senator Wong will need to be sworn in next week ahead of the Quad security meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Labor senator Murray Watt was also returned to the chamber, while Queensland senator and former assistant minister for women Amanda Stoker is at risk of losing her position.

Senator Stoker, who was third on the Queensland LNP ticket, sparked controversy after attending an anti-abortion rally in Brisbane during the election campaign.

High-profile candidates Nick Xenophon and Clive Palmer fell well short of a quota in their SA and Queensland races.

Independent candidate and former Wallaby David Pocock is tipped to defeat outgoing minister Zed Seselja on preferences for an ACT Senate seat.