GOLD Coast businessman MP Clive Palmer has been labelled ‘untouchable’ after the Prime Minster was asked to stop attacking the mining magnate.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce believes Mr Palmer’s appeal to disgruntled voters is growing the more he is mocked, prompting the warning to Tony Abbott.
News.com.au reports, earlier this week Mr Abbott accused the millionaire of “spending like a drunken sailor” in a bid to “buy” a seat in Parliament.
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Mr Joyce said critics of Mr Palmer had “misread the campaign” and predicted the mining magnate’s party was likely to win a seat in the West Australian senate election because “he has harvested the protest vote”.
“People think the way we deal with it is go out there and get stuck into him,” Mr Joyce told The Courier-Mail.
“But that just confirms the intentions of people who are voting for him.”
“You are not actually taking votes away from him, you’re advertising him.”
Mr Palmer’s party has outspent Labor and the Liberals by about 10 to one on TV ads in Perth, according to data provided by advertising monitoring firm Ebiquity.
Mr Joyce has been campaigning in WA for the Nationals as an alternative for conservative voters who want to lodge a protest against Liberal candidates.
But he said he was frustrated with the amount of “free publicity” being handed to Mr Palmer by attacks from the government and negative media coverage.