Billionaire Clive Palmer has lashed Labor’s calls for new spending caps on election expenditure, despite revealing he spent more than the two major parties combined, with his spend-a-thon likely to reach $70 million.
The New Daily understands the ALP’s post-mortem on the federal election result, led by former SA premier Jay Weatherill and former frontbencher Craig Emerson, has found the Palmer juggernaut was a big factor in Labor’s election defeat.
A marathon four-hour meeting of the six-person committee in Canberra on Sunday discussed calls for the final report to call for spending caps in the future.
The issue of how brutal the report will be for former leader Bill Shorten was left unresolved.
In an exclusive interview, Mr Palmer said his total spending would likely be more than the widely speculated $60 million when he lodged his final expenditure statement with authorities.
“The final figures will be out in the next couple of weeks, but I would have thought $65 to $70 million if you take all the expenditure going back to the billboards,” Mr Palmer told The New Daily.
“They have got to be lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission, so we are doing a double-check. It will come out somewhere around there.
“We did pump a lot of money into it.”
After the election, Mr Shorten blamed “corporate leviathans” for Labor’s shock loss.
“We were up against corporate leviathans, a financial behemoth, spending unprecedented hundreds of millions of dollars advertising, telling lies, spreading fear,” he said.
“Powerful vested interests campaigned against us through sections of the media itself, and they got what they wanted.”
The New Daily revealed last week that the Labor Party spent $31.9 million on the failed mission to elect Bill Shorten as prime minister.
But Mr Palmer, who has previously boasted of “polarising” the electorate with negative ads, said it was a joke the ALP was calling for caps on spending.
“Let’s examine that objectively. First of all, Labor was happy for me to spend as much as I wanted to when they thought I might give them my preferences, right? They asked for my preferences,” Mr Palmer said.
“I think it’s misguided. It’s not just expenditure, it’s the message. Now, advertising generally is only good if it picks up the mood of the electorate.
“Politicians should focus on the message. Shorten was a flawed leader in the electorate’s eyes and combined with franking credits that gave us credibility.
“It’s not based on ‘Clive Palmer spent a lot of money, so we lost government’. They need to look closer than that.”
Mr Palmer said Labor had only itself to blame for the electoral defeat after running on a platform of tax increases, including a crackdown on concessions for franking credits.
“Remember when Chris Bowen said, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t vote for us’?” Mr Palmer said.