Now, the controversial member of Hughes is leading the United Australia Party. Here’s a look back at how he landed the United Australia Party’s (UAP) top job, and what Mr Kelly has been campaigning for.
Leaving the Liberal Party for the United Australia Party
On one occasion, there was a confrontation between Labor MP Tanya Plibersek in the corridors of Parliament’s press gallery. She rubbished Mr Kelly for his “conspiracy theories,” after he endorsed unproven drugs to treat COVID-19.
By the end of February 2021, Mr Kelly had quit the Liberal Party to become an independent MP.
After the move, Mr Kelly was thrust back into the public eye when he spammed Australians with messages about adverse vaccine reactions in September 2021. Shortly after, Mr Kelly was hit with a cease and desist letter from the Therapeutic Goods Administration which accused the MP of breaching copyright and misleading the public.
United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly (C) with anti-mandatory vaccine protesters he signed into Parliament House. Source: AAP
More recently, in February of this year, Mr Kelly to the prime minister.
What are the UAP’s election promises?
“We will outlaw lockdowns, protect the rights of all Australians to choose their medical treatment, and to preserve freedom of speech.”
There are also pledges to “bring Australian super home” investing funds locally, and introduce a 15 per cent license on all iron ore exports with the proceeds used to retire debt in Australia.
United Australia Party (UAP) leader Craig Kelly during the UAP’s campaign launch on the Sunshine Coast, 16 April, 2022. Source: AAP / DARREN ENGLAND/AAPIMAGE
Also on the UAP hit list: abolishing the National Cabinet and banning content moderation on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter which it labels “foreign interference” and “censorship”.
The Party is also seeking to increase the age pension by $180 a fortnight, give $40 billion to the healthcare sector, and abolish HECS debt.
Is Craig Kelly likely to win in the seat of Hughes?
Currently, Jenny Ware is the Liberal candidate challenging Mr Kelly for the seat. Ms Ware has worked as a senior legal executive in both the public and private sector, as a government director, and says she has contributed to local community organisations.
United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly speaks to supporters at Elder Park in Adelaide on 10 April. Source: AAP / MATT TURNER/AAPIMAGE
The second-highest first preference vote in the 2019 election went to the Labor candidate. This year, the Labor candidate is Riley Campbell who says he has personal experience with the NDIS and aged care system. Mr Campbell has also worked in local government and sat on a number of committees.
Speaking in Brisbane during election week, the UAP leader said the party was pining for all 151 seats across the nation but did not specify which were more likely.