Queensland LNP MP George Christensen has announced he will not seek re-election at the next federal election.
Mr. Christensen told The Courier-Mail he would not recontest his Mackay-based seat at the next poll, saying “the time was right,” and it had always been his intention to serve three terms.
The 42-year-old said he wanted to spend more time with his family, including his wife, April Asuncion, whowase “caught up overseas” due to pandemic border closures.
He also said Australia’s politics was “broken” and that he would have “more to say about it down the track”.
“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 favor, or the need to get re-elected,” the statement said.
Nationals Leader Michael McCormack confirmed on Thursday night that Mr. Christensen had decided not to re-contest his seat of Dawson.
“George Christensen has been a tireless fighter for the people of Dawson and central Queensland and his decision not to contest the next election and retire from the Australian Parliament is personally momentous,” he said in a statement.
“Since first being elected the Member for Dawson in 2010 as a candidate for the LNP and The Nationals, George has done a power of good for all the communities in the region. “George’s decision to step back, spend time with family and pursue a career after politics is one that he has not taken casually. Giving up the opportunity to serve his community at the end of this term of the Parliament has been a callous decision for George to take. I respect him for doing so in the professional way he has.
The move follows Queensland’s LNP blocking embattled federal MP Andrew Laming from recontesting the Brisbane seat of Bowman on 12 April after he failed to officially withdraw his preselection nomination following harassment allegations.
The Mackay-based politician was first elected to federal Parliament in 2010 after spending six years in local council.
He came under fire for spending 294 days in the Philippines between 2014 and 2018 and referred himself to the expenses watchdog after questions were raised about taxpayer-funded domestic travel being used to link up with overseas flights to the southeast Asian nation.
He was forced to repay $327.28 including a 25 per cent penalty for misusing entitlements and voluntarily repaid a further $1843.16 for domestic airfares and luxury cars.
Mr Christensen also courted controversy in early 2018, refusing to apologise for a Facebook post showing him pointing a gun alongside the comment: “You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?”.
The LNP held Dawson with a 14.6 per cent margin at the 2019 election, with the seat now set to undergo a preselection process.
Dawson slipped into Labor hands for the first and only time in its 70-year history in 2007 when James Bidgood upset sitting Nationals MP De-Anne Kelly.
Additional reporting by AAP.