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Anti-vax MP quits plum parliament committee role

george christensen
George Christensen is stepping down as a committee chair after making new anti-vaccination comments. Photo: AAP
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Rebel backbencher George Christensen will step down as chair of a parliamentary trade and investment committee after sustained pressure following anti-vax statements.

Mr Christensen said he will advise the Speaker of the House his intention to stand down as the committee’s chair – a role that earns him extra money on top of his backbencher salary – when he returns to Canberra on February 7.

“[It’s] a decision of my own making and not a demand or request from any third party,” he said in a social media post on Wednesday night that announced his move.

But it came hours after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was again forced to distance himself from the Queensland MP’s comments on vaccination.

Mr Christensen urged parents not to get their children vaccinated and has been condemned by health officials and senior government ministers, with Mr Morrison labelling the comments as “dangerous”.

Mr Christensen’s latest anti-vaccination remarks were made in a podcast interview with American virologist Robert Malone, who has been banned from social media platforms for COVID-19 misinformation.

During a media conference on Wednesday, Mr Morrison urged parents not to listen to Mr Christensen’s views.

“I think they’re unwise views, I think they’re dangerous views. I don’t think parents should be listening to them,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone should be paying attention to him on this issue.”

Mr Morrison stopped short of calling for Mr Christensen to be expelled from the Coalition party room.

“Australia is a free country, you can’t go locking people up for what they say as Australians,” he said.

“His views are not the government’s views … I can only encourage those to simply ignore him.”

Mr Christensen, who will leave politics at the next election, has often made anti-vaccination remarks during the pandemic.

Previously in parliament he has likened COVID-19 restrictions to the regimes of dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot.

Mr Morrison has spoken to Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce about Mr Christensen’s comments.

In Brisbane on Wednesday, Mr Joyce said Mr Christensen’s comments were not backed up by medical experts.

“It’s quite obvious it’s at odds with the position held by the appointed medical authorities on this very important issue, and that is something taken into account,” he said.

“His comments are not backed up by medical workers in that field.”

Labor health spokesman Mark Butler said the comments from Mr Christensen were outrageous and urged the government to pull him into line.

“This guy is not a fringe commentator. George Christensen is a menace to pubic health,” he said.

“He’s a danger to the public health of our children, no less, and there should be no place for him in the government partyroom.”

-AAP