George Christensen says party unity 'Soviet of 1950s'
THE Turnbull Government's mantra of toeing the party line "sounds like some dodgy 1950s soviet-style campaign", according to Nationals MP George Christensen.
In a sign of things to come, the maverick Queensland MP has told a radio host he was "actually holding back" when he had spoken out against the party line in the past few months.
Mr Christensen opened up about his decision to resign as the National Party Whip Tuesday in an interview with radio station 2GB this morning.
He reiterated his decision to resign was because he had been so outspoken while it was his responsibility to ensure discipline in the party.
But he also delivered a clear assessment of the Prime Minister's calls Tuesday for party unity.
"Discipline', 'party unity', all these mantras, it sounds like some dodgy, 1950s soviet-style campaign," Mr Christensen told host Ray Hadley.
"Think about the work, we're sent as representatives by our electorates down to Canberra to represent the people, not represent the party," he said.
"Sure we come with party values that people vote us in for but we've got to stick up for our electorates, we can't be robots just conditioned to nod our head and do and say whatever the party wants.
"We've got to be forceful enough to put that point across."
In a joint party meeting yesterday, the Prime Minister had spoken to Coalition members about the importance of party unity.
Earlier he had warned Liberal members "disunity is death".
His comments came after dealing with a fresh outburst from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, revelations about a group of Liberal MPs plotting a strategy to launch Mr Abbott back onto the frontbench and a Newspoll which showed record low support for the Turnbull Government.
Mr Christensen said Australia's democracy was lessened by MPs not being able to speak out against their party if they felt the need to.
"The party unity and discipline issue in Australia, its unlike any other Western democracy," he said.
"People can cross the floor, put their own private members bills up, can argue against the government - no one really bats an eyelid but in Australia it's sort of this weird thing, you can't do it.
"I disagree with that and I think as a democracy we're devalued for it."
After resigning as whip yesterday, Mr Christensen said he remained loyal to Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and the party.
But he left some wriggle room as to whether he would remain with the Coalition.
Today, Mr Christensen sent the Prime Minister a warning by saying he now felt free to speak out.
"Even though I have been outspoken - particularly on an issue with the north Queensland sugar industry and a big dispute that we've got going up here between a foreign-owned miller and local growers - every time I did speak out there was a gut feeling of 'should I be doing this?'
"And I was actually holding back a bit, believe it or not.
"Without that encumbrance I guess I feel more freer (sic) to stand up, speak out and fight on behalf of my electorate."