Jason Costigan has denied all allegations against him, labelling them a
Jason Costigan has denied all allegations against him, labelling them a "stitch-up”. Emma Murray

LNP begins search for new Whitsunday candidate

THE LNP is scouting for a new Whitsunday electorate candidate after sitting MP Jason Costigan was ousted from the party over harassment allegations.

It comes as the party opens up about the decision to use parliamentary privilege to detail the allegations Mr Costigan harassed five women.

Deputy leader Tim Mander, visiting Mackay yesterday to begin the search for new talent, said after the allegations were brought to the LNP, it began an investigation immediately.

"From the time we received the (first) allegation until the time we did an investigation and came to the conclusion we came to, it took no longer than 10 days," Mr Mander said.

After news broke of the allegations against Mr Costigan at the end of January, the party felt it needed to give the Whitsunday electorate an explanation for their decision to oust the member.

"Particularly to respect the privacy of the family, we wouldn't go into the intricate details into the lead-up to that decision," Mr Mander said.

"We thought it was important to detail as much as we could, that we thought was appropriate, so people had a better understanding of the decision (we had made)."

Mr Mander said the family was distressed by the situation and wanted the party to investigate Mr Costigan.

"It's our opinion that the alleged behaviour of Mr Costigan was inappropriate, if it was done in any other workplace in the country, we think they could have come to the same conclusion.

"We also believe with members of parliament, there is a higher standard expected.

"(Opposition Leader) Deb Frecklington certainly believes that."

Mr Mander said he could not speak for the rest of the party, but he was disappointed when he heard the allegations.

"You don't want these things to happen in the first place.

"(Opposition Leader) Deb Frecklington spoke to me and our first reaction was if these things are true, it is totally inappropriate and it's not something we would expect from a member of our team."

Mr Mander said he was not concerned about the people who quit the LNP following their decision to air the allegations.

"Those people who got a bit of publicity are a very small minority," he said.

"I think we've had five or six people resign from the party. Every MP normally has a close circle of support, I would assume those people that resigned, and I do know this, are part of that support network for Mr Costigan.

"We will have more people joining the party than resigning because of the decision we've made."

Mr Mander said the LNP was now searching for a new candidate for the 2020 State election.

He said the community should expect more visits from him, Mrs Frecklington and shadow ministers to ensure they did not feel "abandoned".

"We will be searching for someone for the next election, someone who truly represents the local community," he said.

"It's a bit early (to have a short list)... there are a number of people we believe would be ideal candidates, but we still have 18 months until the next election.

"It would be our aim to find someone and preselect that candidate as quickly as we can so that people have an opportunity to access their credentials and the party as well."

The Daily Mercury could not contact Mr Costigan.

He has previously denied all allegations against him, labelling them a "stitch-up".

"I deny any suggestion that I acted inappropriately towards the young woman in question," he said last week.