Nationals MP George Christensen isn’t happy and he’s not afraid for the Prime Minister to know about it. In fact, that’s exactly what he wants.
Becoming incensed over the Government’s inaction in a row between a foreign-owned sugar mill and cane growers in his Queensland electorate, Christensen told News Corp that he had issued an ultimatum before furiously penning his letter of resignation.
Christensen ordered the Prime Minister to announce a mandatory code of conduct for the sugar industry by March 1. By failing to do so, he said he would no longer guarantee his support for the government.
“If it takes ruffling a few feathers here, crossing the floor or going rogue to get an outcome, then you just have to do it,” he reasoned.
While Christensen is yet to submit the letter, he also hasn’t ruled it out. Moreover, his flagrant admission further emphasises the fragility of the Turnbull government and puts more pressure on the flailing PM’s leadership of a minority government.
Last week, senator Cory Bernardi quit to start a rival conservative party, saying his decision was a direct product of “the political class being out of touch with the hopes and aspirations of the Australian people.”
Though a number of Liberal/National MPs condemned Bernardi’s move, Christensen, was one of the few to sympathise with his friend’s choice, telling commentator Andrew Bolt that Bernardi was a “massive intellect within the Liberal party” and a great loss.
Is it unfathomable then, that he would choose to leave in much the same way?
This morning on the Nine Network, Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne laughed off the possibility of Christensen “going rogue”, saying the news was a beat up.
“George is not going anywhere, he is a valued member of the coalition and he is a great whip in the House of Representatives. I can tell you that George Christensen is not going anywhere.”
But Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese took the opportunity to point out the weakness of the government should Christensen choose to act on his threat, telling Pyne:
“You lost Cory Bernardi last week and this week you have George Christensen writing out his resignation letter ready to join the crossbench, which would cost you your majority on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
“I know that you can’t win votes now. Imagine how bad you could be if George Christensen sat on the crossbench.”
No doubt, a terrifying prospect for the Prime Minister.