The One Nation senator sensationally cut loose from the party an hour after being sworn-in to parliament may not be a “lone ranger” for long.
Fraser Anning has been discussing his future with Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, Cory Bernardi from the Australian Conservatives and even the Turnbull government through cabinet minister Matt Canavan.
“They are both very nice people, and both good people for the country and their constituents,” the now independent senator told ABC radio in Brisbane of the two crossbenchers.
“I haven’t made any decisions about where I’ll be heading yet.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said the new senator hasn’t joined his party or Senator Bernardi, “but his inclination is to do so”.
“[Senator Anning] realises that being a lone ranger in the parliament is not as effective as having a relationship with other senators so he is considering his options at the moment,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Senator Anning entered the upper house chamber on Monday flanked by senators Leyonhjelm and Bernardi after splitting with One Nation in disputed circumstances.
Senator Anning claims he was booted from the party, whereas party leader Pauline Hanson said he quit.
“It was a bit of a shock that. I wasn’t going to be good enough for the job, after all these years. I didn’t see this coming,” he said.
Senator Hanson attacked him “pretty viciously” and was clearly in a “bit of a mood at the time”.
Senator Anning suggested the leader’s chief-of-staff James Ashby was a toxic force in One Nation, and he could not go back to the party while he was there.
“I don’t think that we’re going to be able to work together particularly well if she’s taking advice from James,” he said.
Senator Leyonhjelm claims Senator Hanson asked Senator Anning to step aside in favour of disqualified senator Malcolm Roberts returning to parliament.
“He was very reluctant to do that and things became acrimonious and you saw the end result yesterday,” he said.
“It does look like Fraser has parted irretrievably from One Nation.”
Senator Leyonhjelm has hired Richard Howard, a former Roberts staffer, who has been in “constant communication” with the new senator during the past few weeks.