Federal Liberals have told a Nationals backbencher to pull his head in after he blamed the Prime Minister for the high One Nation vote in the Queensland election.
The Nationals have used the election result – expected to return a Labor government – to reiterate the need for their party to have a strong and distinct identity, separate from their coalition partner.
Outspoken Nationals MP George Christensen on Sunday apologised to One Nation voters in north and central Queensland for the LNP letting them down.
The One Nation vote was higher than the LNP’s in every electorate bar one – within his federal seat of Dawson.
Senior Queensland Liberal George Brandis understands Mr Christensen is upset.
“But what I would remind him is at the end of the day, what the Australian people want is for governments to get on and deliver for them,” the attorney-general told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
“They don’t want to see an endless symposium on Queensland electoral politics.”
To Qlders who voted One Nation, I'm sorry we in the LNP let you down. We need to listen more, work harder, stand up more for conservative values & regional Qld & do better to win your trust & vote. A lot of that rests with the Turnbull govt, it's leadership & policy direction. pic.twitter.com/0vCREdd7mn
— George Christensen (@GChristensenMP) November 25, 2017
Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who holds the far north Queensland seat of Leichhardt, warned Mr Christensen he risked disenfranchising his other constituents and he would be better off looking out for everyone’s needs or explaining his reasons why not.
“But to go out there and say I’m going to apologise to One Nation, I’m going to apologise to one other group, I don’t think is wise,” Mr Entsch told ABC radio.
Mr Christensen said the coalition had to listen more, work harder and do better at winning people’s trust, and that began with the Turnbull government’s leadership and policy direction.
Mr Entsch had a blunt response: “George, you are actually part of the Turnbull government.”
Senator Brandis echoed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s insistence that overall, the Queensland election was fought on state issues and there were no wider implications.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said clearly the rest of their party didn’t agree.
“If Mr Turnbull thinks there are absolutely no federal lessons from the Queensland election, then he’s just living in la-la land,” he told reporters in Canberra.