Clive Palmer’s massive advertising spend fails to translate into election success for United Australia party

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<span>Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP</span>
Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

Clive Palmer’s mammoth campaign spend of close to $100m has failed to deliver his party results, with its primary vote failing to reach 5% across the country.

In both regional and metropolitan areas, the United Australia vote increased slightly to about 4.7%, and was strongest in Queensland where it polled close to 6%.

But as expected, the party did do well in outer suburban areas that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with it polling about 10% in the seats of Holt, McMahon, Calwell, Bruce, Wright, Forde and Scullin.

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Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party polled higher than the UAP, recording about 6% of primary votes nationally. The party this year stood in almost all lower house seats, boosting the count.

At the 2019 election, when Palmer’s campaign was credited with helping erode Labor’s primary vote with its campaign against Bill Shorten, the party recorded a primary vote of 3.4%.

Related: How Clive Palmer’s deep pockets are building a yellow, slick road straight through One Nation’s heartland

United Australia leader Craig Kelly, who defected from the Liberal party to sit on the crossbench, managed to secure just 8% of the primary vote, with the south-west Sydney seat of Hughes expected to return to the Liberals.

Palmer has spent tens of millions of dollars in the lead-up to the election, campaigning on the issue of freedom and opposing Covid vaccine mandates and lockdowns.

He has also campaigned strongly against both major parties, urging voters to put the Liberal and Labor party last.

In the final days of the campaign, Palmer accused the major parties of wanting to give up control of Australia’s health department to the “Chinese-controlled WHO”, in double-page newspaper advertisements across the country.

“They will control our lives. Unelected Foreigners controlling Australia? Not on our watch,” Palmer said.

Related: United Australia party directs preferences to Coalition in key marginal seats

Ahead of the election, Kelly said he was hopeful of picking up seats in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne that had been hit particularly hard by Covid lockdowns.

“Whatever the result is we’ll all be able to hold our heads high because we’ll be on the right side of history,” Kelly told Australian Associated Press.

But while it was able to increase its vote in many of these seats, its vote has failed to influence the outcome.

Labor MP Julian Hill, who holds the seat of Bruce, has described Palmer’s party as a “giant preference scam” to help Scott Morrison remain in power.

The UAP campaign, the most expensive in Australian electoral history, may have contributed to the record vote for minor parties and independents at this election, with Labor’s primary vote at 32% and the Liberal and National coalition with a primary vote at 34%.

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