Clive Palmer has backtracked on comments he made suggesting he would rather preference the Greens over the Coalition and Labor, claiming the statement was "tongue-in-cheek".
The United Australia Party chairman, who is pumping around $40 million into his election campaign, last week told the National Press Club the party would place the three at the bottom of its preference list.
Mr Palmer suggested the UAP could punish incumbency by listing the Greens above the major parties, who he blamed for wracking up unprecedented debt.
But in a statement on Monday, he claimed the comments were "tongue-in-cheek" and labelled reporting on them "fake news".
"The notion that United Australia Party would preference The Greens is as ludicrous as them giving preferences to us," he said.
"I made a tongue-in-cheek remark because I was responding to an ABC journalist that, like the ABC, I may preference the Greens before the others.
"The fact of the matter is the party executive has unanimously agreed that The Greens will be last."
Mr Palmer did indeed make the aside to ABC political editor Andrew Probyn, having initially dodged multiple questions over where the UAP's preferences would flow.
But the magnate, who has railed against COVID-19 vaccines and government debt, explained in detail his reasons for preferring the Greens.
"From my personal perspective, I think I'd put the Greens ahead of Liberal and Labor," he said.
"That's my personal perspective, because they haven't been in government and they haven't been responsible for this debt. The debt we see is causing the main problem in Australia.
"So, like the ABC, I'll be putting the Greens ahead of Liberal and Labor."
But Mr Palmer muddied the waters by accepting a handful of Liberal senators were more sympathetic to the UAP, in an apparent reference to Gerard Rennick and Alex Antic, who both threatened to withdraw their vote over vaccine mandates.
"There are Liberal members of parliament who have crossed the floor with [UAP leader] Craig Kelly. That's on the record," he said.
"There are other Liberals who have supported him and people who have sponsored some of our bills that we put up like, George Christensen. Those people will be favourable when it comes to us."
The UAP chairman had initially claimed the party could not confirm its preferences, within days of an election being called, because "we don't know who's standing".
"We haven't determined that because not only in a political party. Even though I'm the money bags, it doesn't mean I make all the decisions," he said.
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