A blindsided Liberal National Party has blasted former Queensland government minister Steve Dickson’s shock switch to One Nation and insisted there wouldn’t be further defections.
LNP president Gary Spence and state Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls both slammed the Buderim MP’s move to Pauline Hanson’s party, after 11 years in his seat, as a self-interested betrayal.
Mr Spence said Mr Dickson’s defection was a “breach of trust” with the people of his electorate and former party.
“Steve Dickson has broken his word and the personal assurances that he made to the LNP that he would not be leaving the party,” he said in a statement titled “Dickson Betrayal About Self-Interest”.
Mr Nicholls said he was only informed of the former Newman government racing minister’s decision 15 minutes before Mr Dickson’s press conference on the Sunshine Coast.
“That’s the calibre of the announcement we got from Steve Dickson,” he said.
Mr Nicholls said the Buderim MP’s defection had “nothing to do” with the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, and an amnesty for users, as he had claimed.
“Steve was just looking for an excuse to put his own self-interest ahead of the people of Buderim,” he said.
Mr Dickson’s decision to jump ship leaves the LNP with 41 seats in the 89-seat hung parliament, behind Labor’s 42.
Mr Nicholls said he was unfazed about further defections before a looming state poll, despite speculation another colleague was in One Nation’s cross-hairs.
Cleveland MP Mark Robinson met Ms Hanson and Mr Dickson in December and posted a picture of him with her on social media.
On Friday, Mr Robinson said Mr Dickson remained a good friend and said he would remain loyal to the LNP so long as it was loyal to its “good values and policies on family, marriage and life”.
Mr Nicholls said he was confident the Christian conservative would remain.
“I know Mark will continue to be a solid supporter of the LNP and continue to be a party room member,” he said.
Tim Nicholls on Steve Dickson's defection: "One Nation is doing exactly what Queenslanders hate, it is playing a political game" #qldpol
— Evan Schwarten (@EvanSchwarten) January 13, 2017
Acting Premier Jackie Trad said Mr Dickson’s defection was a “big vote of no confidence” in Mr Nicholls and the LNP.
Ms Trad said Labor wasn’t worried about One Nation’s growing popularity.
“I think the person who should be worried is Tim Nicholls,” she said.
Ms Trad dismissed the opposition leader’s claims that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should have returned from leave to deal with the One Nation issue.
“If he’s not up to the job of fixing up the mess in his own party room then he needs to vacate and let somebody else do it,” she said.