Federal MP George Christensen claims he is the victim of a “disgusting smear campaign” peddled by both a Labor MP and a former senior government member.
It was reported on Friday that a government MP had made frequent trips to “seedy” parts of Southeast Asia, which had given the Australian Federal Police cause to become concerned he could be subject to blackmail.
Mr Christensen on Saturday admitted he was the politician in question, having made several trips to the Philippines. But the north Queensland MP said internal political rivals and Labor were behind the allegations, and that the trips were to visit his fiancée, April Asuncion, and her family, as well as for philanthropic purposes.
“All the innuendo is false,” Mr Christensen told News Corp.
“Apart from jaywalking or speeding, I have never, in my entire life, committed a criminal offence either in Australia or overseas.”
He said he had travelled to the Philippines to visit his fiancée and her family several times since 2017 and had sent her money, while also helping to raise funds for a charity providing disabled children with wheelchairs.
News Corp on Friday alleged the un-named government MP had sent money to multiple accounts in the region, with checks revealing he was visiting “dangerous” neighbourhoods “notorious for prostitution and drugs”.
The federal opposition on Friday said it was “extremely concerned” by reports the MP could be open to blackmail over their frequent trips to parts of Southeast Asia.
Speaking before Mr Christensen issued his statement, shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said the government had to come clean as to how much it knew about an AFP investigation.
Mr Christensen on Saturday took to Facebook to confirm the allegations were about him, but the AFP had found no evidence or information supporting them, or any criminal conduct.
“I have confirmation in writing from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that someone made an allegation to the AFP about me, even though they ‘had no direct knowledge of the conduct’ they were alleging — that’s called vexatious in my books,” Mr Christensen wrote.
“The AFP have further stated they ‘found there was no evidence, or other information to support the allegation, or establish criminal conduct’ and, as such, they did not launch any investigation nor did they, at any stage, interview me about any matter, criminal or otherwise.
“I also have confirmation of that in writing.”
Highly defamatory allegations have been made in a southern newspaper in recent days as part of disgusting smear campaign…
Mr Christensen said he had never been interviewed by Australian Federal Police, who he says have told him there was no evidence or information to support allegations made against him, and dismissed the report as part of a “putrid” smear campaign by his political opponents.
He said “this whole matter is vile and defamatory”.
“I’ve asked myself why I’ve been the subject of such a vile and hateful smear campaign and I can only think it is because I stood up for my electorate against the powers that be, or rather, that were, on too many occasions,” Mr Christensen wrote.
“They now want revenge and have sided with Labor in this smear campaign to try and get that revenge.
“I say to my political opponents that if you want me out of Parliament, beat me the old fashioned way — on the hustings, not through smear,” Mr Christensen wrote.
But News Corp on Saturday reported the investigations into his conduct were initiated several months before the Labor Party referred it to the federal police.
The Prime Minister’s office issued a statement saying the allegations were made by a Labor frontbencher and had been discredited and dismissed by police.