Australian billionaire businessman Clive Palmer, chairman of the United Australia Party, has said that he will run candidates in every lower house seat for the 2022 federal elections, News.com.au reported.
Palmer said he would not rule out making his own return to politics, but for now, he’s throwing his full support behind UAP leader, Craig Kelly.
“Craig Kelly is our leader, and I’m certainly happy to follow him and to do all I can to help,” Palmer said.
“I’m 67 years of age now, I’m retired. I only came out of this retirement to help and assist Mr Kelly and what he wants to do, and certainly, he’s a courageous leader.
“And he’s presenting a different point of view to the Australian public,” he said.
Kelly is an independent MP who resigned from the Liberal Party, one of the two major parties, in February, after he was criticised for publically stating his views on vaccine mandates and providing information on alternative methods being used to treat COVID-19 internationally.
In his resignation letter, Kelly cited concern for his constituents, not wanting them to be denied access to medical treatments for COVID-19, if their doctors believed those treatments could save their life.
Kelly, who is the current member for Hughes in New South Wales, faced a strong backlash from segments of the media and political opponents for sharing information about the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-inflammatory and anti-malarial medication, has faced both support and scrutiny after the drug was utilised by former U.S. President Donald Trump as a prophylactic against COVID-19.
Currently, the debate on the drug’s use is still ongoing after the medical journal The Lancet initially published a paper condemning hydroxychloroquine before retracting it after more than 100 medical professionals raised major issues with the study. However, a study published in the American Journal of Medicine on Jan. 1, 2021 found that hydroxychloroquine helped lower mortality in the early treatment of COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the World Health Organization in March advised against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 and it is currently not advised by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for use in those who have contracted COVID-19.
Kelly’s stance earned him support from Australians disillusioned with the status quo of politics and the media reporting on the pandemic. Kelly has since appeared at freedom rallies against mandatory vaccinations.
Palmer hopes to win seats in electorates with dissatisfied voters, and has encouraged his votes to preference the Liberal Democrats, and put Labor, the LNP, and the Greens last.
“There’s a large volume of Australians that are dissatisfied with the status quo in the media and in parliament,” he said.
“They want an alternative and they want freedom of choice.”
Palmer aims to run a UAP candidate in every seat for the House of Representatives, and when pressed, said he would not be running himself, but would not rule it out.
“We’re going through the candidates at the moment, and we’ve got some excellent candidates and they’ve got to be evaluated. And the executive of the party is going to make that decision,” he said.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this article.