The threat of the “teal independents” to Liberal moderates has been the talk of the 2022 election campaign – but on the right, the government has also had to battle traditional rivals One Nation and the United Australia Party.

Clive Palmer claimed the UAP would run candidates in all Australian electorates, with the party headed by ex-Liberal and Hughes MP Craig Kelly.

Palmer, whose party did not win a seat in the 2019 election despite similar saturation and heavy advertising, claimed Kelly would be Australia’s next prime minister.

UAP founder Clive Palmer with “prospective PM” Craig Kelly. (Rohan Thomson)

One Nation, too, is running candidates in all lower house seats, along with Senate hopefuls such as leader Pauline Hanson.

Former Queensland Liberal National Party MP George Christensen is running for the party as a Queensland senator.

Christensen, part of the government’s right-wing faction, had previously announced he would retire from politics, before making the switch to Hanson’s party.

He and Kelly both cited their discontent with the government’s pandemic policies as a reason for their disconnect with the Coalition.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson with Senate hopefuls George Christensen and Raj Guruswamy. (Matt Dennien)

Christensen had also appeared at far-right and anti-lockdown rallies, and on US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars show, he called for overseas protests outside Australian embassies to fight COVID-19 restrictions.

However, both Christensen and Kelly quit the Coalition voluntarily, with the prime minister refusing to exile either MP.

9News political editor Chris Uhlmann tonight launched a major spray against Kelly.

“If there is any justice on earth, he will be reduced to single digits within the first hour,” Uhlmann said on Nine’s election panel.

“First and foremost, he ratted on his party.

“I don’t think that anyone on either side of politics that does that deserves to stay in parliament in that event.

“You are elected by the people of Australia, by a party essentially. It is the party that gets you into parliament.”

Uhlmann also had strong words for Kelly’s landing pad of choice.

He said the UAP had run the “most dishonest campaign (he had) ever seen”.

From democracy sausages to puppies

“I got a text message on my phone last night telling me our health department would be taken over by the World Health Organisation,” he said, referring to a mass text apparently distributed by the UAP promoting a conspiracy theory about WHO suborning individual governments.

“I think at the end of this campaign, we are going to have to have a long conversation about millionaires and billionaires who intervene in the process and make our democracy their plaything,” Uhlmann said.

Kelly is the UAP’s only current MP, though he was elected as a Liberal.

One Nation has no MPs, but boasts two senators for Queensland in Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.

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