Clive Palmer has denied hiding his party’s lead candidate for a West Australian senate seat, claiming the media has not been properly covering the campaign.
Dio Wang, who was the only Palmer United Party (PUP) member to win a senate position in the September election before losing the spot in a recount, has made few public appearances during the re-run campaign.
Mr Palmer said his three candidates – Mr Wang, former AFL footballer Des Headland and academic Chamonix Terblanche – had all been out “door knocking” and talking to voters.
He said the trio would be in Broome on Wednesday and Kalgoorlie the next day while he was spearheading the campaign in Perth.
The party leader denied claims there had been no advertising for Mr Wang, insisting there would be publications later this week that would feature Mr Wang prominently.
Mr Palmer instead turned the focus back on the media, claiming they had failed to cover Mr Wang’s campaign.
“Dio has put out a number of press releases but the press has refused to run them, so that’s not our fault,” he told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.
“They want to run stories about me and the carbon tax … they don’t want to run it about Dio.
“He’s got some serious ideas about what should happen in Western Australia.”
Mr Palmer said he believed Mr Wang would be successful in Saturday’s election.
But it was less than two weeks ago that Mr Palmer contradicted his lead candidate over Renewable Energy Targets (RET).
Mr Wang said the existing RET, which required that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity be produced from renewable energy sources by 2020, was the right scheme for maintaining and improving the nation’s environment, and should stay as it was.
But Mr Palmer said he believed the target should be voluntary.
Last year’s election was declared void after the loss of 1375 votes and a re-run was ordered.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Perth on Tuesday that Mr Palmer was trying to buy seats in parliament.
“The people of Western Australia are smart, savvy people and I don’t believe they are going to allow themselves to be bought,” Mr Abbott said.
“I don’t believe the people of Western Australia are going to put seats in the national parliament up for sale, which is effectively what someone is trying to do.”
Mr Abbott said Palmer United Party senators could not be trusted to repeal the carbon tax, as Mr Palmer had abstained from the vote in the lower house.
“The gentleman in question is not serious about repealing the carbon tax,” he said.
Mr Palmer has said that his party was opposed to the carbon tax, but that he abstained from the vote to repeal it to avoid a potential conflict of interest.