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Fact sheet

Fact Check: Clive Palmer and the United Australia Party claim three former prime ministers as their own. Is that correct?

Palmer United Party Political parties Prime ministers Australian history Parliamentarians Australia

In a December 2021 press release, United Australia Party Chairman Clive Palmer claimed: "We are very pleased to announce that we are officially celebrating 90 years since this great party first held government under our inaugural Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons" and that "We are also commemorating other United Australia Party leaders who were Prime Ministers of Australia in Billy Hughes and Sir Robert Menzies."

The original United Australia Party was a political party established in 1931 and formally disbanded in 1945. Experts told Fact Check that many members then transferred to the Liberal Party and historical accounts show assets also moved across. Mr Lyons and Sir Robert (who was Mr Menzies at the time) were indeed prime ministers as leaders of the original UAP. Mr Hughes was also at one stage leader of the UAP, however, he served as prime minister under earlier Australian Labor Party, National Labor Party and Nationalist Party governments.

Mr Palmer's party on the other hand has only been registered with the Australian Electoral Commission since 2018 and has changed its name twice since then. A party of the same name was briefly registered in Queensland in 2012 before merging with his Palmer United Party. Palmer United Party was voluntarily deregistered in 2017. In a statement to Fact Check, a spokesman for the Australian Electoral Commission said: "The current UAP was registered in 2018. It was not a continuation of registration from the UAP registered in the 1930s."

Experts told Fact Check the contemporary iteration of the UAP had no connection or continuity to the original UAP beyond sharing the same name. One expert compared the claim to changing his name to "Charles Dickens" and claiming he wrote Oliver Twist. Furthermore, experts argued significant differences in policies and voter bases set the parties apart. One said the "true heir" to the UAP was today's Liberal Party.

Verdict: Mr Palmer's claim is nonsense.

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