Palmer United Party

Palmer United Party
Leader Clive Palmer
Founder Clive Palmer
Founded 2013
Headquarters 380 Queen Street,
Brisbane, Queensland
Colours      Yellow

The Palmer United Party (PUP) is an Australian political party that was formed by mining magnate Clive Palmer in April 2013. The party was formed as the United Australia Party, and brands itself as a revival of the historic party of that name. However, it adopted its current name a month after its founding to fast track registration and to avoid a conflict with a similarly named party.[1]

The party fielded candidates in all 150 House of Representatives seats at the September 2013 federal election. Palmer, the party's leader, was elected to the Division of Fairfax. Two candidates (Glenn Lazarus of Queensland and Jacqui Lambie of Tasmania) were elected to the Senate. Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator-elect Ricky Muir, of Victoria, later agreed to enter into an informal alliance with the PUP. Dio Wang of Western Australia was elected to the Senate at a special election held in April 2014, after the original Senate election in the state was voided by the Court of Disputed Returns. The PUP bloc thus had four senators (3 PUPs plus Muir) when new members took their seats in July 2014. However, Muir soon left the alliance,[2] followed by Lambie who resigned to sit as an independent in November 2014,[3] and similarly, Lazarus in March 2015.[4]

At state and territory level, Palmer United has been represented in the Parliament of the Northern Territory (NT) and the Parliament of Queensland. Two former Liberal National (and later independent) members of the Queensland Legislative Assembly joined the PUP in April 2013, while three former Country Liberal (CLP) (and briefly independent) members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, joined the party in April 2014. Both of the Queensland members left to become independents again during 2014,[5] and all of the NT members left the party in the same year, with two becoming independents and one re-joining the CLP.[6] The party contested the South Australian, Tasmanian, and Victorian state elections in 2014, but none of its candidates have been elected to a state or territory parliament.

In May 2016, party leader Clive Palmer announced he would not seek re-election to his seat of Fairfax or run for a federal senate seat, ending his official involvement in Australian politics.[7][8] Two months later, Wang lost his Senate seat in the double dissolution election, as the Party lost all representation in a near-fatal swing against it, receiving less than 0.01% of the House of Representatives vote.

On 23 September 2016, the PUP applied for deregistration in all states.[9] A party spokesperson stated that the party was set up as and would remain a federal party, but no longer contest state elections.[10]


Clive Palmer, party leader 2013–present.

Palmer announced in November 2012 he was considering reforming the United Australia Party, which had been folded into the present-day Liberal Party of Australia in 1945. He had been a longtime supporter of the federal National Party and the Liberal National Party of Queensland (LNP). Palmer's nephew, Blair Brewster, had applied to trademark the party name two months earlier.[11] There was speculation it would join forces with Katter's Australian Party.[11] A month following the party's founding, Palmer announced that the party would be renamed the "Palmer United Party" to avoid confusion with a separate party already registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, the Uniting Australia Party.[1] Despite its name change, the party still brands itself as a revival of the old UAP; its website lists the three leaders of the original party—Joseph Lyons, Robert Menzies and Billy Hughes—as its former leaders.

Federal politics

Peter Slipper, the independent (formerly LNP) member for the Division of Fisher (and previously Speaker of the House of Representatives), joined the party on 11 May 2013.[12] Hours after announcing his membership had been accepted, the party released a statement on its website announcing members had decided to revoke Mr Slipper's membership under clause D26 of the constitution of the party.[13] At the North Sydney by-election, 2015 the party came 13th out of 13 candidates.[14]

2013 election

In April 2013, Palmer announced he was relaunching the UAP with the goal of running candidates in the 2013 federal election and had applied for registration in Queensland.[15][16] He told Lateline "It's a reformation of the original party".[17] The party also endorsed candidates to run in the Senate.[18] In the state of Victoria, two retired sportsmen were announced as Senate candidates: Australian rules football player Doug Hawkins and boxer Barry Michael.[19]

In the 2013 election, Palmer won the Sunshine Coast-area seat of Fairfax with a 26.49 percent primary and 50.03 percent two-candidate preferred vote, a margin of 27 votes. Senate candidates Glenn Lazarus (a former player of the National Rugby League's Canberra Raiders, Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm) and Jacqui Lambie were elected for Queensland and Tasmania on votes of 9.89 percent and 6.58 percent respectively. The nationwide vote in the Senate was 4.91 percent. The outcome of the Senate vote in Western Australia was disputed and the Australian Electoral Commission ordered a re-run of the vote for 5 April 2014.

2014 WA Senate election

With a 12.34 percent vote, an increase of 7.33 percent, the party won a Senate seat at the Western Australian special Senate elections of April 2014.[20] The Palmer United Party's candidate, Zhenya (Dio) Wang won the fifth of six available seats. The publicity for Wang was minor, while the party's advertising was prominent.[21]

Following the April 2014 election, advertising monitoring company Ebiquity reported that PUP spent A$477,000 on 788 television commercial slots during the party's re-election campaign. The amount exceeded the combined spending of the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties on campaign advertising.[20]

2015 federal by-elections and loss of support

Palmer United Party support collapsed at the 2015 federal by-elections, losing more than two thirds of its vote at the December 2015 North Sydney by-election, polling last of 13 candidates with a primary vote of just 0.5 percent, compared to 1.7 percent at the 2013 federal election. The party lost more than half its vote at the September 2015 Canning by-election with a primary vote of 3.1 percent, compared to 6.9 percent at the previous election.

2016 election

Despite having had four parliamentarians elected at the 2013 election and subsequent 2014 Western Australian Senate election, only one, Dio Wang, will contest the 2016 federal election for the Palmer United Party. Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie quit the party mid-term. In early May 2016, party leader Clive Palmer announced he would not seek re-election to his seat of Fairfax and later that month also ruled out running for a federal senate seat, ending his involvement in Australian electoral politics.[7][8]

The party fielded a single House of Representatives candidate in the Division of Herbert, and senate candidates in every state.[22]


Alex Douglas

On 11 August 2014, Queensland Palmer United Party MP Alex Douglas resigned from the party to become an independent citing cronyism: "When I resigned from the LNP in November, 2012, I publicly stated there was a culture in the LNP, and there still is, of looking after mates and relatives, and that I do not support these flawed ideas." [23]

Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu

On 8 September 2014, Northern Territory PUP MP Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu resigned from the party and returned to the CLP, saying "there is no party structure in PUP and no help available". He said that Palmer had promised to give resources and staff to himself, Anderson and Lee, but had gotten "nothing" at all. He added that Palmer hadn't met with him at all since his initial defection from CLP.[24]

Carl Judge

On 8 October 2014, Queensland's only remaining PUP MP Carl Judge resigned from the party to become an independent.[25]

Jacqui Lambie

On 24 November 2014, Senator Jacqui Lambie resigned from the PUP, announcing that she would remain in the Senate as an independent.[26] Lambie's resignation followed several weeks of disagreements with party leader Clive Palmer, culminating in her voting with a group of senators calling themselves the "coalition of common sense" in passing a disallowance motion on legislation supported by PUP to repeal the Future of Financial Advice reforms introduced by the previous Labor government.[27]

Alison Anderson and Larisa Lee

On 29 November 2014, Northern Territory MPs Alison Anderson and Larisa Lee announced they were resigning from the PUP to sit as independents. Anderson stated that she and Lee could no longer tolerate the "absolute chaos" in a party that had become a "national disgrace". She also accused the PUP of doing almost nothing to connect with them. Lee said that the PUP had "just kind of left (us) in the dark" after promising that she, Anderson and Kurrupuwu would be in a position to carry the party's banner and help them fight for Aboriginal rights.[28]

Glenn Lazarus

On 13 March 2015, Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus announced his resignation from the PUP, accusing Clive Palmer of bullying, swearing and yelling at people. Lazarus stated "I have a different view of team work. Given this, I felt it best that I resign from the party and pursue my senate role as an independent senator." His wife Tess Sanders-Lazarus joined in, saying "I did make it clear to Clive that I was not happy with being bullied and spoken to using foul language." Palmer responded by sacking her, and then denying their accusations.[29][30]

In a PUP media release, the national director Peter Burke, was quoted as saying; "There is no doubting the timing of Senator Lazarus's defection from the party which came after Tess' sacking as a result of her not doing her job." Mr Burke said Tess Lazarus was dismissed for spending her time writing speeches and questions for her husband instead of working on agreed party duties. "After repeated efforts to have her engage in the correct party duties were ignored, the party had no alternative but to dismiss her."[31]

State and territory politics

Northern Territory

In April 2014, three independent members of the Northern Territory Legislative AssemblyAlison Anderson, Larisa Lee, and Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu – joined Palmer United, with Anderson becoming the party's leader in the Territory.[32][33] The trio had resigned from the ruling Country Liberal Party (CLP) during the previous month, leaving the CLP with a one-seat majority in the unicameral Northern Territory Parliament.[34] After the MPs joined Palmer United, Campbell Newman, the Premier of Queensland, suggested Clive Palmer was attempting to "buy votes", which resulted in Palmer initiating defamation proceedings against Newman.[35][36] The PUP is not registered with the Northern Territory Electoral Commission,[37] but the party already meets the NTEC's eligibility requirements for registration because it is "registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act".[38][39] However, Francis Xavier resigned from the party to rejoin the CLP in September 2104, and Lee and Anderson resigned to become Independents in November.


The United Australia Party (UAP) was registered with the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) on 5 June 2013.[40] Alex Douglas and Carl Judge, the members for Gaven and Yeerongpilly, respectively, in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, joined the party the following day, having announced their intention to join the week before.[41] Both had been elected as Liberal National Party MPs at the 2012 state election, but fell out with the LNP and resigned from the party later that year, sitting as independents in the interim.[42][43] The party remained registered with the ECQ under the United Australia Party name until 28 February 2014, when its registration was updated to reflect the change to Palmer United Party.[44][45] The proposed name change had been announced late the previous year,[46] with Douglas announcing it in parliament on 20 November 2013.[47] Douglas quit the party and sat as an independent from August 2014, and Judge followed suit two months later.[5]

PUP contested its first Queensland state election in 2015. Its state leader was John Bjelke-Petersen, son of former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.[48] PUP had a poor run-up to this election. Although actively stopping a number of unpopular federal education and health reforms in the Senate, Lambie's decision to leave the party following the departure of Carl Judge and Alex Douglas at a state level, made PUP appear to be in disarray. To many, the selection of Bjelke-Petersen and a strange internet election advertisement featuring Palmer, raised questions about the sincerity of PUP. This was reflected in the pre-election polling that had PUP at less than 4%. To complicate matters, Clive Palmer was sick during much of the campaign, missing the election launch. This left the inexperienced Bjelke-Petersen to do most of the electioneering. Despite these difficulties, PUP managed to field 50 candidates out of a possible 89 electoral districts in Queensland. PUP policies included: a First Farm Buyers Grant; to abolish payroll tax for businesses and; tighter regulation of coal seam gas operations.[49] The PUP received 5.1% of first preference votes.[50] While counting was underway, the PUP candidate for Ferny Grove, Mark Taverner, was revealed to be an undischarged bankrupt. Under Australian electoral law, Taverner was ineligible to run. This led to speculation that a by-election would be required in the seat; Labor was narrowly ahead on the two-party vote, and Taverner had preferenced Labor.[51] However, when the tally from Ferny Grove was released, Taverner's votes had no bearing on the outcome, destroying any chance of a by-election.[52]

On 23 September 2016, The PUP applied for deregistration in Queensland, effectively terminating its operation in that state.[53] A party spokesperson stated that the party was set up as and would remain a federal party, but no longer contest state elections.[54]

South Australia

Two independent candidates at the 2014 South Australian state election were endorsed by Palmer United.[55] Ngoc Chau Huynh and Kristian Rees (a former soccer player who finished his career at the then Clive Palmer-owned Gold Coast United) ran on a combined ticket for the Legislative Council, and polled 1.6 percent without either being elected.[56] The party had failed to achieve registration by the required date, with the election held on the same date as the Tasmanian state election.[57]


After an appeal against the party's registration was dismissed in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, Palmer United was registered with Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC) on 17 February 2014, and was one of seven parties to contest the March 2014 state election.[58] The party polled 4.97 percent of first-preference votes in the House of Assembly, but did not win a seat. It achieved its best result in the Division of Braddon, where its candidates polled 7.18 percent to finish ahead of the Tasmanian Greens, and third overall, behind the Liberals and Labor.[59] Kevin Morgan, a former public servant who stood in Braddon, was the party's leader during the election,[60][61] while Barbara Etter, the former CEO of the Integrity Commission Tasmania and a former assistant commissioner of Western Australia Police, was deputy leader, standing in Denison.[62][63] Palmer United and the Liberals were subject to TEC investigations over claims they had breached electoral advertising rules by publishing the name and photos of opposing candidates without their permission.[64] The party reportedly spent "more than $1 million on saturation advertising" during the campaign.[65]

Media relations

As of late 2014, Andrew Crook and his firm Crook Media were employed to handle media relations for the Palmer United Party and Clive Palmer. Crook has handled public relations for Palmer effectively full-time since 2013.[66] Andrew Crook is now a person of interest in Queensland Police Taskforce Maxima investigations. Palmer and the party are not implicated in any way.[67]


Australian Federal Electoral performance

House of Representatives

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
2013 Clive Palmer 709,035 5.49
1 / 150
Increase 1 Increase 5th Crossbench
Election Leader Votes % Seats +/–
2016 Clive Palmer 315 0.00
0 / 150
Decrease -1


Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
2013 Clive Palmer 658,976 4.91
3 / 76
Increase 3 Increase 4th Crossbench
Election Leader Votes % Seats +/–
2016 Clive Palmer 26,028 0.2
0 / 76
Decrease -1

See also


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  2. "Palmer United: The rise and demise of a vanity party". ABC News. Australia. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  3. "Jacqui Lambie resigns from Palmer United Party". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. 23 November 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  4. "Clive Palmer's one-word response to Glenn Lazarus resignation". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  5. 1 2 Carl Judge quits PUP: Palmer United Party's only Queensland MP resigns to become independent – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved on 5 May 2015.
  6. PM – PUP defiant despite defection of NT politician 09/09/2014. (25 November 2009). Retrieved on 2015-05-05.
  7. 1 2 "Clive Palmer will not seek re-election in House of Representatives". ABC News. 4 May 2016.
  8. 1 2 "'Everyone was out to get me': Palmer". Ninemsn. 23 May 2016.
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  10. Atfield, Cameron (23 September 2016). "Palmer United Party applies for Queensland deregistration". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
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  36. — (28 April 2014). "Clive Palmer threatens to sue Queensland Premier Campbell Newman for defamation" – Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
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  39. "In accordance with Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the [Palmer United Party] was registered on 5 July 2013." "Palmer United Party", Current Register of Political Parties – Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  40. Melinda Howells (6 June 2013). "Billionaire Clive Palmer's party gains official registration in Qld" – Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
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  47. Speech By Alex Douglas, MEMBER FOR GAVEN, 20 November 2013 – Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  48. Palmer United Party announces Queensland Leader as John Bjelke-Petersen – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). (28 December 2014). Retrieved on 2015-05-05.
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  53. Vogler, Sarah (23 September 2016). "Palmer United Party applies to cancel registration in Queensland". The Australian. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  54. Atfield, Cameron (23 September 2016). "Palmer United Party applies for Queensland deregistration". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  55. Holderhead, Sheradyn (29 January 2014). "March 15 South Australian election 'rigged', claims Clive Palmer". The Advertiser. Adelaide. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
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