Senator Jacqui Lambie, former deputy leader of the Palmer United Party, has announced her resignation.
Speaking in the Senate on Monday, the Tasmanian representative announced her “immediate” departure from Clive Palmer’s fledgling party, but said she will continue to work with him “in the national interest”.
Senator Lambie gave Mr Palmer, his staff and “his beautiful family” her best wishes, despite the pair’s recent war of words following her opposition to the defence force pay deal.
Mr Palmer has in recent days accused the senator of “infiltrating” his party in an attempt to “blow it up”.
“I will not be drawn into the game of responding to hurtful and false personal attacks,” Senator Lambie said in response to Mr Palmer’s comments.
“I don’t have the time or the energy to be drawn into a political mudslinging contest.”
In a press conference following the announcement, the senator confirmed that she is aware of speculation that Mr Palmer could pursue legal action against her for campaign funds, but insisted that “there was no contract that I entered into”.
“I sold my own house and invested a lot of money myself,” Senator Lambie said.
The former soldier pre-empted her decision to resign last week, telling media she would take the weekend to consider her future in the party.
She revealed that Mr Palmer received her resignation on Monday at 10am, before admitting the pair had not spoken since November 10.
She will now sit on the crossbench as an independent.
During her resignation, Senator Lambie also dispelled speculation that she may align with Senator Nick Xenophon – with whom she voted last week to defeat the Abbott Government’s financial advice regulations – or any other party.
“I must be free to vote in this Senate in the best interests of Tasmanians,” she said.
“I’m now free to negotiate with the government and other members of this Parliament.”
“I’m going to form an alliance with whoever to get the best for Tasmania… and take each piece of legislation on its merits”.
Senator Lambie’s resignation does not bode well for the Abbott government.
She confirmed she is “deadly against” the prime minister’s paid parental leave scheme, and will continue to vote against all government legislation until defence force pay is increased.
“The doors are open so it would be nice for a coalition member to come and speak with me so we can get this debacle sorted once and for all,” she told reporters.
In what could be viewed as a symbolic move, the senator wore a pink scarf to resign from the party, rather than her trademark PUP-yellow accessory.