Billionaire Clive Palmer is getting a financial leg-up from Queensland taxpayers in his bid to win a Senate seat in Western Australia.
Fairfax Media has learnt Mr Palmer is accessing a discounted advertising rate subsidised by the Queensland government as he blankets the airwaves and newspapers in WA before Saturday's byelection.
The blackout on political advertising began on Thursday but Mr Palmer has switched to advertising his Palmer Coolum Resort – a ploy he used when Palmer United burst onto the political scene at the general election in September.
Despite his feud with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his bitter divorce from the Liberal National Party, Mr Palmer is taking advantage of the ''Stand Alone'' advertising program backed by the state government agency Tourism and Events Queensland.
A brochure for the ''TEQ media rate'' says Queensland-based leisure operators save between 10 and 50 per cent on the ordinary rate by using the collective deal when promoting themselves in the domestic market.
The deal is offered through Brisbane-based Coroneo Advertising, which has Coolum Resort as a client. Tony Broadhurst, the destination advertising manager at Coroneo, said he would not comment on whether Coolum Resort was advertising on TV in WA.
A spokesman for Ebiquity, a Sydney-based advertising monitoring firm, confirmed that ads had begun from Thursday morning.
On Friday, Fairfax revealed Mr Palmer had outspent the Liberal Party on TV by a factor of nearly 10 to one.
PUP bought 788 TV ads out of a total of just under 1700 political ads during the campaign.
The party spent $480,000 compared with $55,000 spent by the Liberal Party, which ran just 60 ads.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott accused Mr Palmer of trying to ''buy votes'' and spending like ''drunken sailor''.