Queensland Liberal National Party powerbrokers have moved to prevent former federal minister Ian Macfarlane’s surprise defection to the National party room.
With the backing of Nationals leader Warren Truss, Mr Macfarlane announced the move earlier this month and resigned from his Cabinet position.
“The LNP will not be supporting Ian Macfarlane’s intention to move to The Nationals Party Room in Canberra,” a statement from the party read.
“This decision has been made after taking into consideration the best interests of the LNP in Queensland,” LNP President Gary Spence said in the same statement.
It said LNP members of the Groom electorate supported Mr Macfarlane’s move, however the LNP State executive did not.
Mr Macfarlane said he had accepted the decision. He added that he was disappointed and that he was not ready to retire.
“Obviously I felt I had more to offer regional Queensland and regional Australia, that has not been the view of the LNP and I accept that,” he said.
“I’ll make an announcement in the New Year.”
Mr Macfarlane also denied his bid to join the Nationals was a miscalculation.
“I felt that this was the only way I’d be able to continue to be an effective voice in my electorate,” he said.
Addressing media after the meeting, Mr Spence cited concerns over maintaining the stability of the federal Coalition, adding that the partnership had “never been stronger”.
He said that Mr Macfarlane had been a “tremendous servant” and hoped that he remained in Parliament.
The decision has quashed the Nationals’ hopes to gain an extra Cabinet seat, but Mr Spence said he was hopeful that any future reshuffle would go “some way towards correcting that imbalance”.
On Monday, Mr Macfarlane had been in a meeting with LNP power-brokers to determine if he would be allowed to defect to the Nationals.
Mr Macfarlane had on Sunday won strong support to sit in the Nationals party room in Canberra from the federal divisional council in his Toowoomba-based seat of Groom.
Asked if he was confident of a similar outcome as he arrived for talks with the LNP state executive, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, in Brisbane on Monday, Mr Macfarlane said: “I’ll tell you in two hours.”
In Queensland, the Liberal and National parties have merged into one entity.
– with AAP