PEOPLE are frustrated with politics and looking for an alternative, according to the candidate for the Clive Palmer-backed United Australia Party (UAP) in Mallee at this year’s federal election.
Stuart King, a Swan Hill councillor and equipment hire business owner, has been endorsed as the UAP’s pick to try and unseat Nationals MP Anne Webster.
Mr King said one of his motivations for stepping into the federal arena was to “get life back to how it used to be”.
“The main reason was how our freedoms have been stripped away as a nation and democratic process has not been followed,” he said.
“Governments and unelected bureaucrats over the past two years in particular have done whatever the hell they want, and it’s time to restore democracy and constitutional rights to the people … end lockdowns, end the mandates, get people back to work.”
The UAP is bankrolled by Mr Palmer, a mining magnate, and its party leader Craig Kelly has courted controversy during the pandemic.
Unsubstantiated health claims in relation to COVID-19 posted on social media by Mr Kelly previously drew a rebuke from the Australian Medical Association. He also had his page removed by Facebook for “repeated violations” of COVID-19 misinformation policies.
Mr King said a combination of the party’s values, the support it offers candidates and a belief it will win multiple seats drew him to standing for the UAP.
“When I considered it, I was looking at various options and just talking to people (about) different ideas and different parties, being an independent, that sort of thing,” he said.
“I really landed on the United Australia Party because their core beliefs and core policies line up with my core beliefs and values.”
The Nationals and predecessor the Country Party have held Mallee since it was established in 1949.
Mr King said voters he was speaking to were looking for better representation.
“I ask the question: are our railways any better, are our roads any better, are our waterways any better, are our hospitals any better, are our schools any better − all of those things that matter to people, our community facilities − are they any better for having National Party representation for the past 73 years? I don’t think so,” he said.
“The average voter out there is looking for someone that will stand up for them and the National Party representation have proven they just follow the party line.
“They get swallowed up by corporate Australia and they don’t stand up for people.”
In terms of initiatives for Mallee, Mr King said the UAP was “big on nation-building infrastructure” and a policy to lower regional taxation would promote economic development.
He said the party would look at a “thorough rework” of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and he would listen to “local input”on what Mildura needs.
The federal election is expected to be held in May.
− MICHAEL DIFABRIZIO