Dumped One Nation candidate Peter Rogers has accused party leader Pauline Hanson of being a puppet under the control of her controversial chief of staff James Ashby.
Mr Rogers was dumped as the party’s candidate for the Queensland electorate of Mulgrave in a telephone hook-up with Senator Hanson, Mr Ashby and state leader Steve Dickson on Friday night, two weeks after making headlines with a controversial post on his website.
The post, which he says was written by a friend while he was out of the country, alleges the Port Arthur massacre and the death of a Syrian toddler who drowned at sea which sparked a global outcry last year, were fabrications.
Mr Rogers says his axing came as a surprise, given a fortnight had passed since the controversy, and claimed the party had decided to cut him loose because they’d found another candidate to contest the seat.
He hit out at Ms Hanson’s handling of the situation and accused her of being under Mr Ashby’s control.
“My personal view is Pauline is the puppet and he (James) is the puppeteer,” he said.
His comments echo those of Shan-Ju Lin, who was dumped as the party’s candidate for Bundamba earlier this month.
Ms Lin said at the time Mr Ashby was damaging Senator Hanson’s grassroots support.
“It’s like David Oldfield from 20 years ago. The party is once again in danger at the very moment it could otherwise rise to success,” she said.
Mr Rogers said he had been inundated with support from disaffected One Nation supporters since news of his axing became public.
“I can’t tell you how many times James Ashby’s name came up (in those conversations).
Ms Hanson has been contacted for comment but has previously rejected claims she is under Mr Ashby’s control.
Mr Rogers said he would look at running as an independent at the next state election, expected to be called some time this year.
He also said while he didn’t write the controversial Port Arthur post, he did have his own questions about the massacre.
“I’ve always believed there is no way one man can do that much damage,” he said, clarifying that he believed the massacre occurred, just that it can’t have been the work of a lone shooter.
Thirty five people were killed in the 1996 massacre and gunman Martin Bryant is serving a life sentence in relation to each murder.
One Nation has now lost three candidates since December, when it unveiled a team of 36 to contest the next Queensland election.
But the party also scored a major coup with the defection of former Newman government minister Steve Dickson earlier this month, giving it a toehold in state parliament for the first time since 2009.
And its ranks have been bolstered further by the announcement another Newman government figure, former Thuringowa MP Sam Cox, had jumped ship to join the party.
Mr Cox, who lost his seat at the 2015 election after one term, will contest the seat of Burdekin at the next election, which is held by the LNP’s Dale Last.