Instead, Babet, who is Catholic, was drawn to the UAP for its “unabashed, unashamed love of country”. Australia should take more migrants, he said, but only as long as they are willing to assimilate into local culture.
Babet attended controversial protests at the Victorian parliament, where activists tried to stop the state government’s COVID-19 legislation and mandates. The protests drew criticism for their use of violent language and imagery and from those who saw the gatherings as irresponsible during a pandemic. “I was out there on the steps of parliament house, non-stop for a couple of weeks in a row,” said Babet. “Every single night.”
His priority in Canberra is to represent the so-called freedom movement, a loose coalition of activists opposed to things like vaccine mandates and harsh lockdowns to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to get the average mum and dad, the average Australian, off the couch because I believe that most Australians have a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude about most things, especially politics,” Babet said. “They don’t care about politics, but they need to care. They need to take an interest.”
Babet, who has had “all my shots” except for coronavirus vaccines, said he felt like a “leper” during the period when mandates were being strictly enforced. In contrast to Babet’s unfounded description of coronavirus vaccines as “emergency use gene therapy”, COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by health authorities and are broadly safe, effective and credited with saving millions of lives worldwide.
He is sceptical too of the World Economic Forum, an organisation best known for its annual talk-fest attended by the rich and powerful each year in Davos, Switzerland, and a frequent target of conspiracy theorists. “As far as I can see, they’re trying to do away with the concept of private ownership,” said Babet, who is fearful large corporations want to instead own almost everything.
Babet’s vote is unlikely to be pivotal in this term of parliament because Labor needs the support of the Greens and only one other crossbencher to get legislation through the Senate. That crossbench support is more likely to come from ACT independent David Pocock or the Jacqui Lambie Network from Tasmania, both of which are more ideologically aligned with the government.
The incoming UAP senator gave a dim assessment of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, saying it was hard to judge him because he had spent so little time in Australia since ascending to the role. Albanese has travelled extensively since becoming prime minister on government business, such as meeting with NATO leaders to discuss issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But Babet was even more scathing of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, pointing to Melbourne’s unenviable status as one of the most locked-down cities in the world.
“If he was the CEO of any business, he would have been sacked,” Babet said. “He needs to go.”
The United Australia Party received about 4 per cent of first preferences in the Victorian Senate count, or about 153,000 votes, but Babet was elected on preferences. Federal leader Craig Kelly, who the party billed as the next prime minister, lost his NSW seat of Hughes.
United Australia Party benefactor Clive Palmer, who missed out on a Senate seat in Queensland, said in April he would spend $70 million on advertising for the party having already spent more than $31 million since August 2021. That money was distributed nationally but Babet was the only MP elected.
Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.