Christensen slams ‘broken’ politics in shock retirement
Controversial Queensland LNP MP George Christensen has made the shock decision to retire at the next federal election, with the vocal politician slamming Australia's "broken" state of politics and warning he won't be going away quietly.
Mr Christensen, in a statement provided exclusively to The Courier-Mail, said the "time was right" to announce he would not recontest his Mackay-based seat at the impending election.
He said he had only ever intended to "serve three terms" when he first ran for office in 2010.
Now in his fourth term, Mr Christensen said he wanted to spend more time with his family - ostensibly referring to his Filipina wife April Asuncion - who were "caught up overseas" due to pandemic border closures.
"They're here in the country now so I want to focus more on them going into the future," he said.
He also slammed Australia's "broken" politics, which he said was "dominated by an activist mainstream media along with other leftists cultural institutions that are just so disconnected from the public", as a factor behind his decision.
"I will have more to say about this (broken politics) down the track," Mr Christensen said.
"While I'm in parliament until the next election and while there's still breath in me, I'm going to continue speaking out on the issues that matter, without fear or favour, or the need to get re-elected."
He will remain in the LNP and threw his support behind Prime Minister Scott Morrison and deputy Michael McCormack, declaring the country was "economically, socially, and geopolitically" safer under the Coalition.
Mr Christensen's decision comes despite purported pressure from Prime Minister Scott Morrison on his sitting MPs not to retire at the coming election, a factor understood to be behind Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch's decision to stay on.
The LNP will have to reopen preselection for the seat of Dawson.
Mr Christensen has represented the Mackay-based seat of Dawson, which extends to the southern banks of the Ross River in Townsville, since 2010. He spent six years in local government prior to that.
The son of third-generation cane growers, Mr Christensen has been a vocal critic of his own government, at times making threats to cross the floor of parliament.
His revolts, concentrated during Malcolm Turnbull's tenure as Prime Minister, helped secure a mandatory code of conduct for Australia's sugar growers, millers and marketers in 2017.
Not long after the "game of brinkmanship", he quit as chief whip of the National Party.
Mr Christensen was also an ardent supporter of a Royal Commission into the banking industry, and alongside Nationals MP Llew O'Brien, forced the Turnbull government to acquiesce.
In 2018 he released a music video, in which he wore a one-piece Lycra leotard and sang a ditty titled "Put a Ring Road on it" to the tune of a hit song by Beyoncé, in a bid to secure funding from his own government for a local infrastructure project.
Mr Christensen said he was "very proud" of what he'd achieved in his time in parliament, including securing funding for a number of big ticket infrastructure projects, the Adani mine approval and the establishment of mental health services for Mackay and the Whitsundays.
A divisive figure, Mr Christensen courted controversy the moment he was elected, after it was revealed he had failed to resign from his position on Mackay Regional Council before polling day.
Mr Christensen has been vocal about his anti-abortion views, is a supporter of former US President Donald Trump, and frames himself as a strident Christian. He abstained on the vote to legalise same sex marriage.
The Australian Federal Police has investigated him twice - in 2018 for a Facebook photo of himself holding a firearm captioned "do you feel lucky, greenie punks" and again that year for transferring large sums of money overseas - and inquired into his frequent travel to the Philippines.
The AFP did not take action against him for the gun post, found no crime committed for the money transfers and the case into his travel was closed, although authorities warned he was an ongoing risk of being compromised.
Despite the scandal involving his travel to the Philippines which earned him the "Member for Manila" moniker, Mr Christensen was re-elected during the 2019 election with an 11.2 per cent two-party preferred swing - aided mainly by One Nation voters.
The margin in Dawson grew from 3.37 per cent in 2016 to 14.6 per cent in 2019.
Originally published as George Christensen slams 'broken' politics in shock retirement