MP seeks le­gal ad­vice on elec­tion ad­ver­tise­ment

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

MEM­BER for Daw­son Ge­orge Chris­tensen is seek­ing le­gal ad­vice over a pos­si­ble defama­tion case against Whit­sun­day dive in­struc­tor and ma­rine nat­u­ral­ist Tony Fontes.

At the cen­tre of the is­sue is an ad­ver­tise­ment, pub­lished in Au­gust dur­ing the fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign and au­tho­rised by Mr Fontes, fea­tur­ing the MP’s opin­ions on the place­ment of dredge ma­te­rial from the coal ter­mi­nal at Ab­bot Point.

On the one hand, the ad­ver­tise­ment shows Mr Chris­tensen say­ing he still had “ma­jor con­cerns” (Fe­bru­ary 2013).

The flip side is Mr Chris­tensen say­ing “ap­prove the pro- ject please” (May 2013).

Mr Chris­tensen’s is­sue with the ad­vert is the use of six words – “but then they got to him”.

He says he is happy to be crit­i­cised but not to be called "cor­rupt", which he claims this word­ing im­plies.

Fur­ther­more, he says the rea­sons for his change of heart have al­ways been quite clear.

“Orig­i­nally North Queens­land Bulk Ports (NQBP) had plans to put the dredge ma­te­rial just off the coast of Hol­bourne Is­land – a spot that is used by com­mer­cial and re­cre­ational fish­ing and right on top of the World War II Catalina wreck. But al­most as a di­rect re­sult of me com­ing out against that pro­posal NQBP scrapped it,” he said.

Mr Fontes how­ever, says there was never any in­ten­tion to sug­gest that the MP was cor­rupted or bribed. “It’s not about pick­ing on Ge­orge,” he said.

“It’s just that he’s be­tween us and Can­berra.” On the plus side, Mr Fontes said the pub­lic­ity gen­er­ated by this lat­est feud was a “great op­por­tu­nity to get the word out” about his over­ar­ch­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal mes­sage. “If he took us to court the whole world is go­ing to know about what’s go­ing on here,” he said. Mean­while, Mr Chris­tensen says if Mr Fontes were to pub­licly apol­o­gise, he would be pre­pared to back off.

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