An­ning will cast net on new party

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN AN­DER­SEN john. an­der­sen@ news. com. au

FAST- MOV­ING for­mer One Na­tion Sen­a­tor Fraser An­ning has al­ready had talks with the LNP’s Matthew Cana­van and break­away con­ser­va­tive Cory Bernardi.

Sen­a­tor An­ning, the One Na­tion re­place­ment for Sen­a­tor Mal­colm Roberts, left the party in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion on Mon­day morn­ing af­ter fall­ing out with its leader, Sen­a­tor Pauline Hanson, and her chief ad­viser James Ashby.

Sen­a­tor An­ning quit the party only hours af­ter be­ing ap­pointed to fill the po­si­tion left va­cant by One Na­tion Sen­a­tor Roberts, who stood down in Oc­to­ber af­ter it was dis­cov­ered he was a Bri­tish cit­i­zen.

Sen­a­tor An­ning, a pi­lot and for­mer North Queens­land gra­zier and pub­li­can, said he had been a “loyal mem­ber” of One Na­tion for more than 20 years.

His mem­ber­ship came to a cli­mac­tic end­ing in Can­berra on Mon­day at a meet­ing with Mr Ashby, Ms Hanson and other One Na­tion politi­cians.

Sen­a­tor An­ning said he had been af­fronted by Sen­a­tor Hanson’s com­ments about his staff ap­point­ments.

“I’ve never been spo­ken to like that in front of other peo­ple in my en­tire life,” Sen­a­tor An­ning said.

He said he was sur­prised other mem­bers of the party at the meet­ing did not speak up.

Sen­a­tor An­ning said he told Sen­a­tor Hanson that he would not “stand there and lis­ten to this”.

He said he blamed what had hap­pened on a wors­en­ing toxic cul­ture in­side One Na­tion.

He said he felt he was be­ing put un­der pres­sure to re­sign from One Na­tion so that Mr Roberts could make a re­turn to the Se­nate.

“They wanted me to fall on my sword so that Mr Roberts could step back in,” he said.

Sen­a­tor An­ning said he was fin­ished with One Na­tion.

“It’s not for me. I won’t be go­ing back. My ar­gu­ment is not re­ally with Pauline, but with other peo­ple in the or­gan­i­sa­tion,” he said.

“I’ve never re­ally had an ar­gu­ment with Pauline, but I won’t take be­ing spo­ken to the way she spoke to me on Mon­day.”

Sen­a­tor An­ning said his pri­or­ity as a sen­a­tor was to get things done for re­gional Queens­land.

“If it’s not for the good of Queens­land, I’m not in­ter­ested,” he said.

Sen­a­tor An­ning would not elab­o­rate on his “talks” with Sen­a­tor Cana­van or with Sen­a­tor Bernardi of the Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tives.

“I’ll be lis­ten­ing to who­ever will do the most for what I want,” he said.

“I’d like to find a home with like- minded peo­ple.”

Sen­a­tor An­ning said he wanted to see a coal- fired power sta­tion built in North Queens­land.

He said the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment’s “un­re­al­is­tic” re­new­able tar­gets were de­stroy­ing jobs and should be scrapped.

Sen­a­tor Cana­van said he had spo­ken to Sen­a­tor An­ning, but there had been no dis­cus­sion about him join­ing the LNP.

Sen­a­tor Hanson told News Corp that Mr An­ning was “in thrall” of dis­af­fected for­mer staff of Mr Roberts and he had be­trayed his vot­ers.

Fraser An­ning.

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