Over the last week, Craig Kelly has been in the news after becoming leader of the United Australia Party. If you haven’t seen him in the news, there is a chance you might have recently received a political text message from him. Either way, we’re getting to know him below.
The Liberal Party and Independent
Kelly began his career in the Liberal Party in 2010 and was elected to the House of Representatives. Whilst in the Liberal Party (and beyond), Kelly was part of the right-wing faction, holding mostly conservative views. Kelly has previously denied climate change, opposed the proposed First Nations’ voice to parliament, and the abolition of the renewable energy target.
In February this year, he resigned from the Liberal Party and sat on the crossbench as an independent. The decision shocked many, with Kelly revealing that his decision was fueled by wanting to “stay true” to what he believes in and to himself.
COVID-19 and misinformation
Throughout the pandemic, Kelly has notably spread misinformation (including on a podcast with celebrity chef Pete Evans) about COVID-19 and treatments on social media, with content including promoting the use of ivermectin (parasite infestation treatment) and hydroxychloroquine (malaria treatment). The Therapeutic Goods Administration has not approved the use of either as a treatment for COVID-19. As a result of continuing to breach Facebook’s guidelines, Kelly’s account was permanently banned from the platform, as well as his backup accounts.
In July this year, Kelly was also banned from Twitter for seven days, after posting content that breached their COVID-19 misleading information policy.
United Australia Party
Craig Kelly announced last week he will join Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) and “lead” the UAP at the next election. Kelly has said the party will run candidates in each of the country’s 151 House of Representative seats. Speaking of his plans with the UAP, “the crude reality is that I’ll have greater resources [with the United Australia Party]”, Kelly said. Kelly further said, “we have a huge war chest, we can run television commercials, ads, we can finance a proper campaign that no other minor party or independent can”.