Federal MP Clive Palmer says he won’t appear before a parliamentary committee over his election spending if it’s a political witch hunt.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says Mr Palmer has proved you can buy a seat in parliament and that a new parliamentary committee on electoral matters will want to question him on how much personal wealth he spent on the election campaign.
But Mr Palmer says he spent far less than the Liberal and Labor parties, and where the money comes from is irrelevant.
“You can spend a lot of money but if your ideas are not ones the public wants, you won’t get any votes,” he told AAP.
“If we spent much less than both of the major parties, why are they looking at our party? This is not about money, it’s a political witch hunt.”
Asked if he would appear before the committee, Mr Palmer said: “I may or may not.”
Mr Palmer, who last week won the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, said his party spent between $10 million and $12 million during the campaign.
He couldn’t say how much of that was his own money but said his Palmer United Party would disclose its campaign spending by about the end of the year.
Mr Palmer said the Murdoch press had given his party no choice but to fund advertising campaigns so it could be heard.
“I didn’t invest as much as Rupert Murdoch has to get Tony Abbott elected,” he said.
“We have a situation where no media was available for ideas other than Tony Abbott’s, and no coverage was available other than for the two parties.”
He suggested the parliamentary probe could have consequences in the Senate if it was an exercise in persecution.
“It could be a situation that if people are trying to persecute people for their political beliefs, I’m sure our senators won’t allow that to happen.”
Senator Xenophon said scrutiny of Mr Palmer’s personal spending was justified.
“I’ve got concerns. We need to have a national conversation about reasonable spending,” he told The Courier-Mail.
“Like the Beatles say, money can’t buy you love but Clive Palmer proves it can buy you a seat,” he told the paper.
There are no caps on how much personal wealth individuals can spend on election campaigns, but the spending must be disclosed.