BRISBANE, AAP – Clive Palmer has announced United Australia’s federal campaign will be “the most well-funded” of any party contesting the next election, suggesting a reprieve from federal leader Craig Kelly’s texts is unlikely.
There has been little appetite from the major parties to change laws exempting unsolicited political messaging from current spam legislation.
“They never thought one of the minor parties would have the funds or resources to do that,” the chair of the United Australia Party told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.
“They thought it was a great joke.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has previously confirmed it is aware of text messages from the party.
“Messages from political parties, independent members of parliament (phone calls only), government bodies and registered charities are exempt from most spam and telemarketing rules,” it tweeted on August 27.
Mr Palmer called Tuesday’s press conference to “welcome” any legal action against Mr Kelly brought by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
TGA head John Skerritt told the ABC he was getting advice from the Australian government’s solicitor as to whether an offence has been committed through the use of a Commonwealth logo.
Mr Kelly’s text messages included a link to a website showing listings of “adverse event notifications” from COVID-19 vaccines.
“It is sad that people are using data and misusing data to say, ‘oh, no, hundreds of people are dying because of this vaccine’. It is simply not true, it is extremely rare, less than one in a million,” he told the 730 program on Monday.
“We made a commitment at the very beginning of this vaccination campaign that we would share all statistics we get.
“If people report something, even if on subsequent investigation it shows to have nothing at all to do with the vaccine, we won’t delete that report. That report will be out there, it will stand. The transparency, however, can be used against us.”
Mr Palmer believes legal action would allow him to subpoena Mr Skerritt as well as Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, and said Mr Kelly had “nothing to fear” from circulating the TGA’s report.
He said he wasn’t aware of any communication from lawyers on behalf of the TGA.
As well as the biggest war chest, Mr Palmer said his party would have the most campaign workers and the most members leading into the next election.
Unlike other parties, membership to the United Australia Party is free, and Mr Palmer said 46,000 people had already joined including 20,000 from suburbs in Western Sydney.
The party plans to run candidates in 151 seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and foreshadowed more high-profile announcements in coming weeks.