UAP candidate in Macnamara too busy to be interviewed


Image supplied

Helen Paton UAP in Macnamara helping out during pre-polling.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) has taken a surprising route for the people of MacNamara in the 2019 federal election, preselecting a recent RMIT business graduate in her late 20s.

Helen Lucy Paton graduated from RMIT in 2018 with a Bachelor of Business – Financial Planning. She currently works as a sales consultant at Defence Health, a non-profit health insurance provider for members of the defence community.

The UAP describes her as “an advocate for government policy to improve conditions for everyday working Australians and vulnerable Australians who need support such as aged pensioners and young people.”

Prior to working in the insurance sector, Paton worked in junior accounting roles at CBD-based finance firm Hanson Porter Curzon and at Pitcher Partner’s Sydney office, as well as in administrative roles in real estate and events promotion.

Ms Paton’s CV conveys a driven, determined young professional with firsthand exposure to the plight of “everyday working Australians” struggling with the demands of rising living costs in an age of record low-growth in real wages. Indeed, she is marketed as such on her UAP website candidate page.

But Paton’s ambitious policy objectives should not be considered without scrutiny.

In campaign videos posted to Paton’s Facebook page, she lambasts the control of Australia’s largest shipping ports by China, foreign ownership of Australian land and assets and the major parties for failing to deliver to Australians.

“I used to vote Liberal, then Labor. I believed in smaller Government incentives and a fair go, but politicians don’t care about us. They just fight with each other,” Paton says in a Facebook campaign video.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over for no result. Australians have voted over and over for Liberal/Nationals and Labor, for no result,” she adds.

Ms Paton’s public statements are uniform with the UAP’s own election policies. The UAP has pledged to reduce taxes by abolishing the Fringe Benefits Tax and cutting tax payments on second jobs to 50% of what is currently paid, while claiming the party will increase the aged pension by 20% and inject $80 billion into the national health budget. How this spending will be funded while at the same time cutting taxes is unclear. This is one of the questions The Junction would have liked to put to Ms Paton.

The overriding sentiment of the UAP campaign this election appears to be “Make Australia Great,” playing on the  electoral catchphrase used by US President Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election, by putting “everyday” working-class Australians first.

It’s a common populist phrase that has been used before in the aforementioned 2016 US election and the Brexit referendum, with great success for the parties who used it in those instances.

If it weren’t for Palmer’s considerable controversies away from federal politics, the slogan may have more sway with undecided voters this election campaign. But the message is largely at odds with Palmer’s own past businesses activities.

In 2016, Palmer’s Queensland Nickel refinery was shut down after the company went into liquidation. Administrators dismissed 546 workers, many of whom were owed outstanding wages and entitlements.

Australian taxpayers has so far payed $66 million to former Queensland Nickel employees under the Commonwealth’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee. A further $7 million in entitlements is still owing.

Litigation is currently before Queensland’s Supreme Court against Mr Palmer and his related entities to recover the $70 million paid out of taxpayer funds and still owing to former employees. The trial has been set down for mid-July.

Coincidentally, Ms Paton hails from Townsville, the same northern Queensland city where Palmer’s Queensland Nickel refinery was based. It is possible that Paton is acquainted with people affected by the refinery’s closure and still awaiting entitlements. The candidates views on this matter is another question The Junction would like to put to Ms Paton.

Among other controversies to embroil the UAP this campaign has been allegations of collaboration with the Liberal Party to sure up votes through preference deals and cross-party campaigning.

Liberal-National Party (LNP) volunteers have been spotted handing out how-to-vote cards for the UAP in Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s seat of Dickson, as well as in the Victorian seat of Dunkley.

Former Victorian Liberal MP Geoff Shaw has also been seen handing out how-to-vote cards at a polling booth in St Kilda, while wearing a yellow UAP t-shirt. Shaw resigned from the Liberal Party in March 2013 after a parliamentary expenses scandal and continued his term in office as an independent.

A report in the Herald Sun noted that the publication had attempted to contact Paton’s office to inquire about Mr Shaw’s involvement in her campaigning, but she told the paper that she was “too busy” on a pre-poll station to answer questions.

The Junction had an interview lined-up with Ms Paton, but that was later cancelled and subsequent attempts to reschedule the interview were met with the same response as that given to the Herald Sun.