Why Clive Palmer's UAP will do well in the upcoming Victoria state election in 2022

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The most important reason, according to Jozef Szustka, for why he decided to become a supporter of Clive Palmer's United Australia Party is that "Daniel Andrews." ”

According to Szustka, the only other person who is worse than him is the Canadian leader, Justin Trudeau.

The Polish immigrant, who is now 72 years old and trained as an electrical engineer before retiring, says that for the majority of his first four decades in Australia, he voted in an informal capacity. However, over the course of the past half year, he has begun to show support for the UAP as an outlet for his annoyance with mandatory vaccinations, major parties that have "no accountability and no connection," and "cancel culture."

"I don't even know what language to speak to you in anymore!" I went to the restrooms in Federation Square because I was lost and didn't know where else to go. Simply because they are conflating the images now. I had no prior warning, and suddenly I found myself in a room with half women and half men. ”

United Australia Party chairman Clive Palmer at his 2022 election launch at Palmer’s Coolum golf resort.

At the launch of the United Australia Party's campaign for the 2022 election at Palmer's Coolum golf resort, chairman Clive Palmer Credit: Matt Dennien

Altona, a formerly heavily industrialized suburb that has for a very long time been a home to migrants, is where Szustka makes her home. It is in the federal division of Gellibrand, which is considered to be one of the safest Labor seats in the country. At the 2019 election, its representative, Tim Watts, won 65 percent of the vote in the two-party-preferred system. However, the vote for the UAP at some booths in Altona during that election was approximately 7%, which was double its vote statewide, and many people anticipate that it will go even higher this time around.

Szustka is a staunch defender and supporter of the UAP. Several weeks ago, when we were attending a barbecue in Fawkner Park for members of the church, we ran into him there. He told The Age that the restrictions that had been put in place during the pandemic had been excessively stringent while Cold Chisel played in the background. He claimed that they had brought back memories of the communist Poland in which he had grown up, and as a result, he declined to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Twenty or ten years ago, I didn't like [Clive Palmer], but he's persistent, he doesn't give up, and he stands up for what he believes in." He does not go to the left, the right, this, that, or anything else. ”

According to a number of different indices, Victoria is the state in the country with the most left-wing politics. It is a natural home for Labor state governments, and it votes Labor at an overwhelmingly disproportionate rate in federal elections. But it was also the site of the nation's longest pandemic-related lockdowns, and it is now a key target for the United Australia Party (UAP) after figures such as party leader Craig Kelly developed a following by speaking at a number of large anti-mandate, "freedom," protests in Melbourne's Central Business District (CBD) last year.

Federal MP Craig Kelly speaks at a protest in Melbourne on November 13.

On November 13, Federal Member of Parliament Craig Kelly gave a speech at a protest in Melbourne.

At the federal election in 2019, the UAP received three votes. 6 percent of the vote in Victoria's lower house, and 3 percent of the overall vote 4 percent in New South Wales According to the most recent survey by Resolve, which was carried out for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the party's vote in Victoria is at 7%, while its vote in Queensland is at 6%, and its vote in New South Wales is at 3%.

The party is now focusing its efforts on winning over more moderate voters in Labor's traditional strongholds in the north and west of Melbourne, where economic insecurity is a primary concern. There has been some success in this endeavor.

"I'm going to outspend you," the speaker said.

A corporate collapse at Queensland Nickel that lasted for several years and left workers tens of millions of dollars out of pocket is one of the things on Clive Palmer's record, which makes it somewhat incongruous that he is trying to appeal to working-class voters. Clive Palmer is a billionaire and ranks ninth on the list of richest people in Australia.

Since 2013, Palmer, whose company made about $240 million in profit in 2020, has been one of the top five largest donors in the history of Australian politics. The Its donation of million to the most recent federal election is 20 times larger than the donation made by the next largest non-Palmer donor ever.

His spending on the media is similarly excessive, with large sums going to both traditional and new media such as The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. The United Australia Party (UAP) has spent $30 million on advertising since August, which is 100 times more than either of the two major parties combined, according to recent figures from Nielsen Ad Intel, which monitors ad spending across metropolitan TV, print, radio, and digital platforms. High levels of spending are also observed on digital platforms. Between November 2020 and May 9 of this year, the UAP spent almost $16 million on 235 advertisements, all of which were displayed on YouTube.

It would be a mistake, according to political donation expert and Melbourne Law School professor Joo-Cheong Tham, to look at the modest electoral results for UAP and downplay the significance of this flood of cash, despite the fact that UAP received a majority of the vote. According to Tham, "We Believe That Democracy Is About Every Person Having An Equal Opportunity To Influence." "Palmer is openly declaring that he is going to outspend you because he can." It is blatant disrespect for free and fair elections, but nobody seems to be noticing because people act as if this is the norm. ”

An "absolute turn for the better"

Kosmos Samaras, a former ALP Victorian assistant secretary who is now a director at the research firm RedBridge, stated that he anticipates an increase in the number of votes cast for the UAP in Victoria during the upcoming federal election. According to him, the party was primarily appealing to two groups of voters: those who identified as "conservative libertarians" and those who felt economically disenfranchised. The latter finding is not only the most surprising but also the most important.

At the 2019 election, votes cast for the UAP were by a significant margin the most successful in Labor seats across Melbourne and Sydney. Every one of the 23 metropolitan seats held by Labor in both cities was one of the 23 where the United Australia Party vote was higher than the average for the state.

Even more glaring was the contrast in the data from the local booth in Melbourne. In some of the most secure Labor seats in the country, such as Melton, Deer Park, St. Albans, and Sunshine, the United Australia Party received more than ten percent of the vote in working-class suburbs like those. During the most recent election, just under two thirds of Palmer's voters chose to support the Coalition. The massive amount of money spent by Palmer's campaign has caused thousands of votes to move from the center-left to the right.

United Australia Party signs on the Western Freeway.

There are signs for the United Australia Party on the Western Freeway. Credit: Joe Armao

"We are seeing some people who historically voted Labor feeling the pinch of globalization, the casualization of work," Samaras said. "We are seeing some people who voted Labor in the past." "Their working lives are fragmented, and they have the impression that they are a cog in a much larger machine that couldn't give a rat's behind about them." ”

Palmer has stated that the UAP will not give preference to the major parties in this election; however, he has not specified in which order this will occur. In 2019, Palmer struck a preference deal with the Coalition, and in the campaign's waning weeks, he directed all of his advertising spend toward attacks on Bill Shorten and Labor. Campaigning so far in this year has been less lopsided than in previous years.

A review of Labor's defeat in the election that was conducted in 2019 found that the scale of Palmer's expenditure and the targeted campaign crowded out Labor's advertising and had a negative effect on Shorten's popularity as well as the primary vote of his party.

The leader of the United Australia Party and a member of parliament for the city of Sydney, Craig Kelly, who left the Liberal Party the previous year, has confirmed that Victoria is a primary focus.

"People have seen the brutality of the lockdowns here, the worst in Australia," he said. "People have seen the brutality of the lockdowns here." "These are scenes (of police brutality) that I sincerely hoped I would never have to witness in my lifetime." I had the impression that they were the kinds of scenes one might anticipate witnessing in a dictatorship in South America. ”

Because of what Kelly refers to as a "complete up-tipping" of the traditional left/right political divide, Kelly says that his party is doing well in seats that were previously held by Labor.

Populist policies

The election of Palmer and three senators to the lower house in 2013 was the political high point of Palmer's career. However, both Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus later left the party in the middle of their terms in office. When he was in power, Palmer voted in a way that was beneficial to his business and financial interests, including voting to repeal taxes on mining and carbon. He had attempted to make the repeal of the carbon tax retroactive, but in a typical late flourish, he then appeared alongside the former vice president of the United States, Al Gore, and supported the continuation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Renewable Energy Target.

Craig Kelly at a Melbourne gathering for supporters in Fawkner Park in early April.

In the beginning of April, Craig Kelly addressed a gathering of supporters in Melbourne's Fawkner Park. Credit: This is Chris Hopkins.

It was a textbook example of right-wing populism, as he demanded that consumers receive lower power bills in exchange for the repeal of the carbon tax, from which the largest beneficiaries would be large mining corporations.

Mineralogy, whose parent company is located in Singapore, is Palmer's primary source of financial interest. The receipt of royalties from the Chinese state-owned conglomerate CITIC constitutes the majority of its activities. Palmer has been involved for years in what seems like almost constant litigation against CITIC, the corporate regulator, and other parties. He has been either a plaintiff or a defendant in these cases.

In this election, the UAP, in addition to its opposition to vaccine mandates, is also advocating for a variety of populist economic policies. These policies include setting an unachievable cap of 3 percent on residential mortgages, imposing an export license fee on iron ore exports, and increasing the amount of the aged pension.

Samaras has conducted focus groups with UAP voters and found that they are diverse in a way that voters for One Nation, which is an older and whiter populist right-wing party, are not diverse.


"It represents a broad swath of the population." They do not fit the profile of any particular ethnic group, and some of them have staunch objections to medical interventions like vaccinations. ”

It is through the UAP's courtship of the anti-vaccination or anti-mandate movement that the party has drawn itself to the political margins to a greater extent. Mark McMurtrie, one of the speakers at a rally that was led by Kelly and held in Canberra in the month of March, made anti-semitic comments. Later on, Kelly made an effort to put some distance between himself and the party by condemning McMurtrie's comments and claiming that the UAP had not invited him to speak.

Elise Thomas, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has been keeping a close eye on the "freedom" protesters in Victoria throughout the pandemic. In spite of the fact that the UAP has been putting a strong emphasis on anti-vaccine and anti-mandate rhetoric, she questioned whether or not this would result in a significant increase in voter support.

"I guess the interesting thing about that demographic is that a lot of them are skeptical of the political system in its entirety, and as a result, there's a really strong push within that community just to not vote or to do an informal vote... because the'system is corrupt.'" ”

That might present a challenge for the United Australia Party (UAP), as might the large number of so-called "freedom" parties vying for a comparatively low number of votes; these parties include One Nation and the Great Australian Party.

Key seats

In the north-west of Melbourne, in seats such as the newly created Hawke – a seat that is ostensibly held by Labor and that encompasses Melton, Sunbury, Ballan, and Bacchus Marsh – both Labor and the UAP anticipate that the minor party will do well in the upcoming election. Melton is a rapidly growing satellite city located approximately 45 kilometers north-west of Melbourne's Central Business District. Large yellow UAP posters can be found dotted along the sides of all the roads leading to Melton.

During The Age's visit to the neighborhood, we spoke to approximately fifteen residents on High Street, and only one of them said they would definitely vote for Labor. The rest of the residents, however, were either undecided about their vote or were leaning toward voting for independents or other minor parties. The management of the pandemic was mentioned by almost everyone as something that was on their mind.

United Australia Party signs have been erected on the property of Big River Instant Turf in Bacchus Marsh.

In the town of Bacchus Marsh, signs for the United Australia Party have been put up on the property of Big River Instant Turf. Credit: Joe Armao

On the property of a local Bacchus Marsh company called Big River Instant Turf, there have been reports of UAP signs appearing along the Western Highway, which is the primary thoroughfare connecting the city and Ballarat. Kathy Mikulic, 46, and Ivi Cicak, 40, who are cousins and help run the family turf business, have stated that the pandemic galvanized them politically.

"My opinion on how things were handled, the mandating, and just about the whole thing has been changed as a result of the events that have taken place over the past two years." "From my perspective, it was a complete mess," says Mikulic, who formerly supported the Liberal Party.

"I was turned off by [the mandates]... I didn't think that was the Australian way," she said. Simply put, I was taken aback. Because our parents emigrated from a communist nation to Australia, we have had a wonderful life here; we have worked hard our entire lives and paid our taxes; however, now that we are adults, we are disturbed by the political climate. ”

According to Cicak, the pandemic helped people gain a better understanding of politics. "I never looked into it as much as I have recently, and I think the pandemic just showed how many cracks there are in the way that they operate," he said. "I think the pandemic just showed how many cracks there are in the way that they operate."

Cousins Kathy Mikulic and Ivi Cicak help to run the family business, Big River Instant Turf, in Bacchus Marsh. They are planning on voting for the United Australia Party this election. 

Big River Instant Turf is a family business that is located in Bacchus Marsh, and it is co-managed by Kathy Mikulic and Ivi Cicak, who are cousins. They have indicated that they will cast their ballot for the United Australia Party in this upcoming election.   Credit: Nicolette Simone Fox Koob

"Who should one believe?" ’

Andrew Cuthbertson, a former businessman and lifelong Liberal voter who switched parties due to his concerns about mandatory vaccinations, is running for the United Australia Party in the seat of Hawke. He argues in favor of Palmer's commercial history and various interests. "He's had a very successful and illustrious career in business." And we can't believe how fortunate we are that he's been able to fund the opportunity for us to compete with the two larger parties; if he hadn't been able to do that, things would be extraordinarily challenging for us. ”

Cuthbertson lives in Surrey Hills, which is located in the east of the city, but he claims that the supporters he has spoken to over the past few weeks have not been bothered by the fact that he does not live in the electorate.

The topics of "freedom of choice," "freedom of speech," and "the ability to not be censored" are frequently brought up in conversations with him. Cuthbertson, on the other hand, is not vaccinated.

Sahra Thompson, from Melton, has traditionally voted Labor but this year is looking at the United Australia Party.

Melton resident Sahra Thompson has a long history of supporting Labor, but she is considering switching her vote to the United Australia Party this election. Credit: Joe Armao

According to him, residents of such a safe Labor seat feel ignored. "When it came to employment, and people losing their jobs, that really struck a chord with our supporters," the candidate said. The fact that you could link having a medical procedure done to being able to basically provide for your family, pay your mortgage, and basically continue to be an active member of society, that really struck a chord with a lot of people. ”

Sahra Thompson, who has worked on Melton's High Street for as long as she can remember, has spent her entire life in the neighborhood. She has always supported the Labor Party, but she told The Age that she is considering voting for the UAP this year.


As well as being worried about the rising cost of living, she is upset about the way the pandemic was handled in Victoria, particularly the mandatory vaccinations, and angry about how the vaccine mandates were implemented.

The majority of people she knows are moving away from major parties as well: "You don't know who to believe, what to believe," she says. ”

"Labor was once reserved for the tenacious workers," she explains. "It's been altered." ”

Jacqueline Maley will help you cut through the noise of the federal election campaign with her news, views, and expert analysis of the issues. Here is where you can sign up to receive the Australia Votes 2022 newsletter.

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