George Christensen blasts Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership after poll


A federal Coalition MP has blamed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership and policies for the Liberal National Party’s poor result in the Queensland election, with his comments sure to further inflame tensions within the government.

Mr Turnbull and his ministers have sought to distance themselves from the result after the LNP suffered a 7 per cent swing in Saturday’s poll, which is expected to return Labor Premier Annastacia​ Palaszczuk to power.

One Nation collapse in Queensland

Pauline Hanson’€™s One Nation are likely to win the seat of Mirani in the Queensland election, falling short of party advisor James Ashby’s predictions of as many as 10 seats€.

While Resources Minister Matt Canavan conceded Labor’s victory put the future of the controversial Adani coal mine in serious doubt, he downplayed any other federal significance and said it was a campaign fought on state issues.

But maverick Queensland backbencher George Christensen disagreed, taking to social media to say “sorry” to people who voted for One Nation.

“I’m sorry that we in the LNP have let you down and now we need to listen more, work harder, stand up more for conservative values and regional Queensland and do better to win your trust and your vote,” he said on Facebook.

“I think a lot of that starts with the Turnbull government, its leadership and its policy direction.”

Mr Christensen, the member for the lower house seat of Dawson, has previously threatened to quit the Coalition – and there has long been speculation he may defect to One Nation.

He has also promised to cross the floor to vote for a banking inquiry, which was one of the factors thought to have prompted Mr Turnbull to cancel a week of sittings.

While counting was continuing in more than a dozen battleground seats on Sunday, Labor is set to hold on to power with an estimated 48 of 93 seats.

The LNP is predicted to win just 39. One Nation is expected to finish with just one seat despite earlier predictions it would win at least five.

Mr Turnbull said LNP leader Tim Nicholls had run a “good campaign” in a “tough environment”.

“The election was fought overwhelmingly on state issues and one thing that we know from Australian politics is that Australians are very smart in the way they go about voting,” he said. 

Senator Canavan said the LNP faced challenges particularly in regional Queensland, where One Nation’s primary support surged and split the conservative vote. But there was “no real discussion of federal issues in this campaign”, he said.

Despite her party’s poor performance, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said the result was “a clear indication that One Nation is not going anywhere”.

“I am not going to walk away from this,” she said.

The billion-dollar Adani project was a hot button issue in the state campaign with activist group GetUp! running hard on it and high-profile protesters dogging candidates at events throughout the month-long campaign.

The issue divided voters, with support for the project in jobs-hungry areas such as Townsville and Mackay but opposition in inner-city suburbs of Brisbane.

Anti-Adani protesters haunted Ms Palaszczuk during the first week of the campaign before she announced Labor would veto a $1 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loan the company had applied for to build a train line to connect the mine to the coast.

The announcement was a backdown for Ms Palaszczuk, who had previously argued the mine would be a boon for jobs in regional Queensland. Ms Palaszczuk confirmed on Sunday she would follow through on the veto.

Senator Canavan, the project’s strongest supporter in federal cabinet, conceded that decision meant the mine was now unlikely to go ahead.

But he warned the decision would haunt the Labor Party in years to come.

“If they seek to destroy the thousands of jobs that would be created, and the hundreds of jobs that are already created from this mine, that will be hung around their necks and that will be a great millstone for the Labor Party going into any future elections in regional Queensland,” Senator Canavan told the ABC.

​Opposition Leader Bill Shorten congratulated the “strong and courageous” Ms Palaszczuk on a “fantastic campaign”.



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