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They spent less than 1 per cent of Clive Palmer’s 2022 purported election advertising bill, but received about 25 per cent more votes than his United Australia Party.
And while it appears unlikely the Legalise Cannabis Australia party will win Queensland’s sixth senate spot this time, lead candidate Bernie Bradley was thrilled to leave his more well-heeled rival in his smoke.
Rubbing it in: Bernie Bradley erecting a corflute outside Clive Palmer’s Coolum resort during the campaign.
“It’s pinch-yourself type stuff, isn’t it?” he told Brisbane Times.
“You couldn’t make it up. It’s just ‘out there, Jerry’, to quote Seinfeld. It’s just bizarre and totally, wildly unexpected.”
Bradley estimated the party’s election spend “wouldn’t have been much over $10,000″, while Palmer claimed his ubiquitous campaign — the giant yellow billboards and high-rotation ads were unavoidable — cost about $70 million.
The single biggest largesse, Bradley said, was a radio commercial that aired six times on an Ipswich FM radio station in the final week of the campaign. That cost about $1000.
“It was absolute, utter grassroots stuff,” he said. “Pardon the pun.”
As for Palmer, the mining magnate did not seem fazed about having nothing to show for his huge expenditure, other than the possible election of a Victorian senator.
“You can’t put a price on liberty,” he said earlier this week. “Governments may come and go, but freedom goes on forever.”
Freedom was also a central plank of Legalise Cannabis Australia’s platform, albeit of a much more targeted nature.
Bernie Bradley at a legal marijuana plantation in Queensland.
Unlike many political parties, Legalise Cannabis Australia does what it says on the packet.
“It’s a very narrow issue, of course, but it just seemed to resonate,” Bradley said.
“I don’t think that cannabis use has the same stigma that it used to have.
“It’s no longer stoners, hippies and lying-on-the-couch types. Now that it’s medicinal, in all walks of life people are taking medicinal cannabis.”
Bradley’s work as a defence lawyer drove his campaign for legislative reform. Every Tuesday, as a subcontractor for Legal Aid Queensland, he fronts Noosa Magistrates Court to defend clients charged with victimless cannabis-related offences.
Many of them had been growing cannabis for personal medicinal use, Bradley said.
Far from a movement for dope-smoking slackers, Bradley said Legalise Cannabis Australia had a far more noble purpose.
“There are actually people who are legitimately interested in the concept of not having to pay for medicine that they can grow in their backyard,” he said.
“The Palaszczuk government, I think, did a really good thing in legalising cannabis for medicinal use, and thereby acknowledging that it is a valid and legitimate treatment for a whole range of medical issues.
“But the downside of it is that for some reason, and I’m not sure of the price structure on cannabis, but I just don’t understand how you come up with $200 for about 20 grams when it’s something you can grow out of the ground.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Queensland Senate counting showed Legalise Cannabis Australia was the fifth-best supported party, behind only the LNP, Labor, the Greens and One Nation.
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