George Christensen Says He Will Stand as One Nation Candidate at Federal Election
By Ben Smee and Eden Gillespie
The former federal Liberal National party MP George Christensen has defected to One Nation and will run for the rightwing party in the Senate, in what appears to be an attempt to boost Pauline Hanson’s re-election bid.
Christensen, who was the MP for the Queensland seat of Dawson, announced last year he was leaving politics to spend more time with his family.
He quit the LNP this month, citing his disenchantment with the party’s direction, its net zero climate pledge and “destructive pandemic policies”.
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On Wednesday, he announced he had joined One Nation and would run for the Senate from third place on the party’s ticket, behind Hanson and Raj Guruswamy, a former corporate affairs manager for Adani Mining.
Former Nationals colleague Matthew Canavan responded to the news on breakfast television by calling the defecting MP and close friend “cowardly”.
ABC election analyst Anthony Green said Christensen “cannot possibly” be elected unless One Nation at least doubled its highest ever Queensland vote.
Hanson is facing a tough re-election contest among a crowded field of rightwing parties, including the former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, running for the Liberal Democracts, and parties headed by Clive Palmer and Bob Katter.
Christensen said Hanson had approached him to join the party while he was in parliament, but that doing so would have broken a contract with Dawson voters, who elected a Liberal National MP in 2019.
“I decided, obviously, last week that I could no longer remain in the Liberal National party,” he said.
“It has come as no surprise to many people that for a long while, I have diverged with the views of the government, most notably around the issue of vaccine mandates.
“I said yes [to Hanson] after having a look at the One Nation policies, around this issue that I am passionate about, vaccine mandates, the response to government around Covid, which was a complete and utter overreach.”
During his later months as an MP, Christensen had become increasingly preoccupied with anti-vaccine mandate and anti-government conspiracy, all while remaining a member of the government.
He has built a significant social media profile and Guardian Australia has reported he appears to be building a news website that will launch after his political career.
Christensen said he wasn’t going to throw rocks at former LNP colleagues, and said he would have a private conversation with Canavan, who he described as “a mate”.
Canavan said while he understood Christensen may have been upset with some party room decisions, change had to be fought for.
“It is a desertion,” he told the Nine Network.
“You don’t go off and speak to a minor party.”