MP seeks legal advice on election advertisement
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.